Friday, June 29, 2012

Audi at the Norisring: project home victory

Audi Press Release

  • Nuremberg city street race marks pinnacle of the DTM season 
  • Aim is to clinch first victory at the Norisring since 2002
  • Audi Sport’s “home race” has seen three Audi successes so far

For the fans, the Norisring race is the absolute highlight on the DTM’s race calendar. For Audi, it is a home round. But in Nuremberg of all places the brand with the four rings has had to wait for a triumph for ten years – in 2002, it was successful with the compact TT.

In 1990 and 1991, the V8 quattro was victorious at the Norisring and in 2002 it was the ABT-Audi TT-R. Yet with the A4 DTM, the situation seems to have been jinxed. From 2004 to 2011, it won five out of eight possible champion’s titles and 34 DTM races. Not at the Norisring, though. Pole positions, leading laps, fastest laps, second places, third places – only victory was denied to the A4 DTM on the short, 2.3-kilometer city street circuit between the Dutzendteich lake and the easyCredit Stadium. In 2010, merely 0.591 seconds were lacking.

Now the A4 DTM is in a museum and its successor, the A5 DTM, just won its first DTM race at Spielberg at the beginning of June. Since then, “project home victory” has been running at full stretch at Audi Sport in Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm. The squad headed by Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich has been intensively using the brief break between Spielberg and the Norisring to continue to optimize the A5 DTM. Computer analyses, tests at the Lausitzring, a special Norisring simulation: Audi Sport and the three Audi Sport teams, Abt Sportsline, Phoenix and Rosberg, have been meticulously preparing for the season’s pinnacle.

Yet it remains a journey into the unknown, as the Norisring is the only city street circuit on the DTM’s race calendar. The track changes from year to year, with a new bump in the surface here or a new piece of tarmac there. Opportunities for prior testing are not available so that the effects always manifest themselves only in the first free practice session at any of the events. Plus, the Norisring races are typically decided by thousandths of a second, which means that the driver’s form on race day is another crucial factor.

Mattias Ekström is traveling as the runner-up in the standings to Nuremberg where he has always been among the protagonists. Timo Scheider only missed the long-awaited victory in 2010 by a very narrow margin. Spielberg winner Edoardo Mortara won at the Norisring in Formula 3 and Mike Rockenfeller in the Porsche Carrera Cup. All other Audi racers rave about the track as well which, according to Rahel Frey, “looks super easy but is super difficult.”

Clearly, the battle of the premium manufacturers, Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, that already thrilled the fans at the first four races of the year, will see a new highlight at the Norisring – in front of more than 100,000 fans.

Those who miss the chance of buying any of the coveted Norisring tickets will be treated to a seat in the front row on ARD, as “Das Erste” will be broadcasting the qualifying session (Saturday, starting at 15:00 – local time) and the race (Sunday, starting at 13:15 – local time) live as usual. Tuning into the DTM race at “Germany’s Monaco” will no doubt be worth everyone’s – not only Audi fans’ – while.

Quotes by the officials

Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): “After my personal home race at Spielberg, the home round for AUDI AG and particularly for the Ingolstadt plant is now coming up. We’re all hoping to be successful at the Norisring this year. At Spielberg, we developed the cars by another step. At the Norisring, we want to show a good team performance as well. Victory is our big aim.”

Hans-Jürgen Abt (Team Director Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline): “We’re particularly looking forward to the Norisring, as this is the home race not only for Audi but also for our company. It would be nice to finally clinch another victory there. We last managed to do so in 2002 with our Abt-Audi TT-R.”

Ernst Moser (Team Director Audi Sport Team Phoenix): “Like every year, we’re looking forward to the ‘German Monaco.’ We’ve still got some unfinished business there too. It’s time for Audi to finally mount the very top of the podium there again. It’s Audi’s home track and we’ll be seeing a very large turnout of Audi fans – our job is to not disappoint them.”

Arno Zensen (Team Director Audi Sport Team Rosberg): “After the victory at Spielberg, we’re extremely motivated. Last year, we were running well in the rain. The Norisring is always special – a fantastic city circuit that we’re tremendously looking forward to.”

Facts and quotes by the Audi drivers

Filipe Albuquerque (27/P), TV Movie Audi A5 DTM #22 (Audi Sport Team Rosberg)
• Celebrated his 27th birthday between Spielberg and the Norisring
• Is one of only four drivers to have scored points at all races in 2012 so far
“The Norisring is a unique track that always sees tough races with surprises. Due to the bumps and walls experience is particularly beneficial there. For me, it was really rough last year. But this year, I’m returning with more self-confidence and will at least knock one mirror off in the race – because that’s what happens when you give everything at the Norisring.”

Mattias Ekström (33/S), Red Bull Audi A5 DTM #3 (Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline)

• In 2002, won the qualification race at the Norisring
• Was on the Norisring podium as many as five times, most recently in 2010
“The Norisring is the highlight of the year for me. I’ve often tried to win there. In many cases, I came close but didn’t make it yet. This year, I’m going to give everything for it again. I’ll be taking every risk for victory. After a short vacation I’m traveling to Nuremberg with freshly charged batteries.”

Rahel Frey (26/CH), E-POSTBRIEF Audi A5 DTM #17 (Audi Sport Team Abt)
• Is doing an increasingly better job of handling the Audi A5 DTM
• Qualified in front of ex-Formula 1 driver David Coulthard at Spielberg
“My experiences at the Norisring last year weren’t very positive. The track looks super easy but is super difficult. I was struggling last year – especially in the rain. But I’ve continued to learn and look forward to the 2012 Norisring challenge.”

Miguel Molina (23/E), Red Bull Audi A5 DTM #10 (Audi Sport Team Phoenix)
• Is competing in a DTM car at the Norisring for the third time
• Has already scored points twice this year
“The Norisring is a very special race track for the DTM and a special weekend. I remember my first lap there very well. I simply like the track and the atmosphere. We used the break after Spielberg to get some rest but also to continue to work hard. I’m hoping for a good weekend and a good race.”

Edoardo Mortara (25/I/F), Playboy Audi A5 DTM #21 (Audi Sport Team Rosberg)
• Is regarded as a specialist for city street races
• Celebrated his first DTM victory at Spielberg
“I’m already very excited to see how we’ll be doing at the Norisring. After the brilliant victory at Spielberg, I’m confident that we’ll be looking good there as well. I love city street circuits and won in Nuremberg twice in Formula 3. Now I want to achieve a good result in the DTM there as well.”

Mike Rockenfeller (28/D), Schaeffler Audi A5 DTM #9 (Audi Sport Team Phoenix)
• Between Spielberg and the Norisring contested the Le Mans 24 Hours which he finished in the Audi R18 ultra on position three
• In 2012 has been the quickest Audi driver in qualifying twice
“I won the Porsche Carrera Cup in Nuremberg, so I know how to win there. Unfortunately, in terms of results, the track has not been so positive for me in the DTM so far. Still, I’m tremendously looking forward to it. With the A5 DTM, the Norisring will be really special. I’m hoping to be among those running at the very front of the field.”

Timo Scheider (33/D), AUTO TEST Audi A5 DTM #4 (Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline)
• Clinched the pole position for Audi at the Norisring in 2009
• Most recently shone with an impressive recovery at Spielberg
“The Norisring will be a big challenge for all of us again. It’s the home race for Audi that we’d finally like to win. A few years ago, I already took the pole position and had many leading laps. After ‘Edo’s’ (Mortara) victory at Spielberg and my good race performance we started our small break with a good feeling. We’re hoping to get everything together and to be at the very top of the podium then.”

Adrien Tambay (F/21), Audi ultra A5 DTM #18 (Audi Sport Team Abt)
• Will be contesting his fifth DTM race at Nuremberg
• Knows the Norisring from Formula 3
“I’m particularly looking forward to the Norisring in my first DTM year. I like this track and had my best qualifying result there in Formula 3. After the disappointing race at Spielberg, I’m hoping for a good weekend. We saw there that Audi can win. That gave everyone a boost – including me.”