The Audis take the lead at the start from the front row
With a commanding 1-2-3 victory at the Hockenheim DTM season opener Audi, yet again, underpinned the brand’s slogan "Vorsprung durch Technik", not only on the road but on the circuit. 93,000 spectators (throughout the weekend) witnessed an impressive premiere showing of the new Audi A4 DTM, which outperformed the competition in its racing début, clinching positions one, two, three and five.
The fourth-generation Audi A4 DTM features leading-edge technology with numerous innovative details, particularly in the area of aerodynamics. Using advanced CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) calculations, the engineers intensively worked on the airflow around and through the vehicle. In addition, the technology specialists at Audi Sport managed to lower the vehicle’s centre of gravity and achieved a further reduction of the car’s dry weight. With the four-liter V8 engine that delivers approximately 460 hp, the engineers found further development potential as well.
At the season opener at Hockenheim the new Audi A4 DTM was the quickest car straight from the start. In the race the Audi drivers impressively demonstrated that their new "company" car is not only competitive throughout a lap but delivers consistently fast lap times along with immediate reliability. On average, race winner Mattias Ekström beat the best Mercedes by over half a second per lap – a margin of mammoth proportions in the DTM.
At Hockenheim, the race was crucially determined as early as at the start: Mattias Ekström managed to take off a bit quicker than his team colleague Timo Scheider, who had started from the pole position. The Swede had to briefly relinquish his lead only during the two mandatory pit stops. His eleventh victory in the DTM now makes Ekström the most successful Audi DTM driver of all time.
Timo Scheider followed Mattias Ekström over the entire race distance like a shadow and saw the checkered flag in second place merely 0.824 seconds behind the title defender. By finishing as the runner-up, Scheider repeated his best DTM result so far, achieved in the 2007 season finale.
Tom Kristensen, who had started from position five on the grid, finished third to complete Audi’s total triumph. The Dane benefited from perfect pit stops and a good strategy of Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline, which caused him to move in front of the two Mercedes cars driven by Bruno Spengler and Paul di Resta. Impressive, as well, was Martin Tomczyk’s fight to make up ground. Tomczyk had dropped to ninth place at the start, but managed to improve to fifth. Shortly before race end, he even caught up with Bruno Spengler.
Katherine Legge finished her first DTM race as well. Her teammate Christijan Albers retired after a collision with Ralf Schumacher in the early stages of the race.
Quotes after the race
Dr Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): "This is really a superb start for the new Audi A4 DTM. It was obvious that this car delivers very good performance. The front row on the grid and three podium places in the first race – it’s hard to wish a better result than this. Martin (Tomczyk) even came extremely close to clinching fourth place. A great achievement by the squad throughout the winter, as well as here on site. We were strong in terms of driving performance, and the pit stops – particularly with the new cars – were sensational. Now we’ve got a good base. Of course we need to continue working on it to sustain a consistently good performance."
Mattias Ekström (Red Bull Audi A4 DTM #1): "The car was simply fantastic. I want to thank Audi Sport and everyone in my team who had a part in creating such a good car. These were the best prerequisites. I was able to really enjoy the race because the car did everything I expect a racing car to do. In the end, we clinched places one to three, which is great for the team. I think after such a good weekend, we definitely deserved this result."
Timo Scheider (GW:plus/Top Service Audi A4 DTM #10): "Starting with the completely new developed Audi A4 DTM after the winter break was a difficult task. Nobody would have expected us to strike like this on a circuit that used to be Mercedes territory. I want to really thank Audi and the Abt squad for this brilliant feat. They laid the foundation for what we achieved today. Except for my start, my race was perfect. I had a bit too much wheel spin, that’s why Mattias (Ekström) passed me. I wasn’t able to follow him too closely because my car would have had more understeer in that case. The car was good enough for winning the race. I think my team and I are strong enough to fight for podium places and also victories on numerous other occasions this year."
Tom Kristensen (Audi A4 DTM #9): "That was a superb race. Having started from fifth position on the grid, it was clear to me that I’d have to fight in a Mercedes sandwich. My crew had a good strategy and performed an excellent pit stop. When I left the pit lane, I fought for half a lap with Bruno Spengler before I was able to get away. A great feeling! But my two team-mates were already too far away at that point so that I took it easier, something I’ve never done before in the DTM. Places one to three on our rival’s home circuit – that’s a great feeling."
Martin Tomczyk (Red Bull Audi A4 DTM #2): "My race was good even though it hadn’t started well. I lost a few places at the start. The car had a great setup and was running very well over the whole distance. After my second pit stop I caught Bruno (Spengler). It was a very tough but always fair duel. I was lacking a tiny bit of speed to overtake him. It was the first race, so a scoring points is more important than trying to force the issue."
Katherine Legge (Audi A4 DTM #20): "At my first DTM race the atmosphere was fantastic, which was a pleasant experience. Unfortunately, our race didn’t go according to plan because we had a few problems. But we did finish and can learn from this."
The result at Hockenheim
1 Mattias Ekström (Red Bull Audi A4 DTM) laps in 59m 17.726s 2 Timo Scheider (GW:plus/Top Service Audi A4 DTM) + 0.824s 3 Tom Kristensen (Audi A4 DTM) + 19.604s 4 Bruno Spengler (Mercedes) + 20.872s 5 Martin Tomczyk (Red Bull Audi A4 DTM) + 21.269s 6 Jamie Green (Mercedes) + 33.019s 7 Gary Paffett (Mercedes) + 33.956s 8 Bernd Schneider (Mercedes) + 34.726s 9 Oliver Jarvis (Best Buddies Audi A4 DTM) + 40.720s 10 Mike Rockenfeller (S line Audi A4 DTM) + 41.798s 11 Alexandre Prémat (Audi Bank/Shell Helix Audi A4 DTM) + 46.339s 12 Markus Winkelhock (Playboy Audi A4 DTM) + 46.950s 13 Paul di Resta (Mercedes) + 47.867s 14 Ralf Schumacher (Mercedes) + 49.873s 15 Mathias Lauda (Mercedes) + 56.308s 16 Susie Stoddart (Mercedes) + 1m03.824s 17 Maro Engel (Mercedes) + 1m 05.161s 18 Katherine Legge (Audi A4 DTM) + 1m 33.669s Not classified: Christijan Albers (Audi A4 DTM), - 34 laps (front right-hand suspension)
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