Saturday, September 28, 2013

DTM: Audi driver Mike Rockenfeller strong again

Audi Press Release

  •          Leader of the standings best Audi driver in qualifying at Zandvoort
  •          Grid position three directly behind title rival Farfus
  •          Seven of the eight Audi RS 5 DTM cars among the top eleven

Ingolstadt/Zandvoort, September 28, 2013 – The starting base before the penultimate race of the 2013 DTM season could hardly be more thrilling than this, as Augusto Farfus (BMW) and Mike Rockenfeller (Audi) – the two candidates for the title – are directly behind one another on grid positions two and three at Zandvoort (the Netherlands) on Sunday. 

The 4.307-kilometer circuit on the Dutch North Sea Coast is regarded as one of the most challenging race tracks on which Audi, since its comeback with a factory-backed commitment in 2004, has achieved six out of nine possible victories. The track is regarded as putting extreme demands on the tires and offers only limited overtaking possibilities. That is why, more than at other races, good grid positions, the right strategy and a set-up that is gentle on the tires are crucial.

Leader of the standings Mike Rockenfeller in the Schaeffler Audi RS 5 DTM of Audi Sport Team Phoenix has checked off the first part and, by clinching grid position three, secured a good starting base for the 44-lap race. “Naturally, I’d have wished to be starting in front of Augusto (Farfus) tomorrow,” said the 29-year-old. “But even in this morning’s free practice he showed that he’s very strong here. Now we’ve got to see to us being fast enough in the race tomorrow to crack him. It was a difficult qualifying session for us, so I’m pleased with grid position three. My thanks go to Audi and my team. I’m the best Audi driver on the grid and my aim of winning the race remains unchanged. I need a good start and then we’ll see what happens.”

Alongside the leader of the standings, Timo Scheider in the AUTO TEST Audi RS 5 DTM of Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline will be starting the race from grid position four. Filipe Albuquerque in the Audi Financial Services RS 5 DTM of Audi Sport Team Rosberg, by taking position six, made for drivers from all three Audi teams to start from the first three rows.

Audi’s qualifying performance that was strong on the whole was completed by Edoardo Mortara (Playboy Audi RS 5 DTM), Adrien Tambay (Audi ultra RS 5 DTM), Miguel Molina (Audi RS 5 DTM) and Mattias Ekström (Red Bull Audi RS 5 DTM) with grid positions seven, nine, ten and eleven.

With that, seven of the eight Audi RS 5 DTM cars are starting from the best eleven grid positions on Sunday. Only Jamie Green in his Red Bull Audi RS 5 DTM, in 18th place, was eliminated by just a very narrow margin right in the first qualifying segment. As last year’s winner Bruno Spengler received a two-position grid penalty, Green will start the race from 17th place.

“The two candidates for the title are directly behind one another tomorrow on the first two rows of the grid – it can hardly be more thrilling than this,” said Dieter Gass, Head of DTM at Audi Sport. “Mike (Rockenfeller) drove a strong qualifying session yet again and Timo (Scheider), as always, was very fast at Zandvoort again. With six Audi cars in the top ten, we’ve got a good overall starting base for the race in which the right strategy will play a crucial role – there are many different variants that can be driven here. It’ll be a very exciting race.”

Mike Rockenfeller will have the chance to secure an early DTM title win by achieving a good result on Sunday. ARD will broadcast live on ‘Das Erste’ starting at 13:15 from. The race can be watched live on YouTube in many countries as well.

Quotes after qualifying at Zandvoort:

Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport):“Mike Rockenfeller achieved a good starting base for the race on his own power. Now, making the right decisions in the race tomorrow will be very important. Nobody knows yet how the option tires are going to perform here – and overtaking isn’t easy at Zandvoort. The DTM fans can look forward to a thrilling race at which the start and the first turn will already be explosive, as both candidates for the title are close together on the grid.”

Dieter Gass (Head of DTM): “It can’t get much better than this. We’ve got two Audi and two BMW cars in the top four. Both candidates for the title are in contention at the front; that’s a promising situation for the race tomorrow. Thinking about our performances, we can be pleased as well. We’ve got seven Audi cars among the top eleven and can come up with something in terms of strategy for the race. We’re going to try and win tomorrow.”

Mike Rockenfeller (Schaeffler Audi RS 5 DTM), grid position 3
“It’s a good starting order, it’s got spice. I’m pleased with my position but not with my pace in qualifying. I gave everything but was struggling a bit with the car. Cracking Augusto (Farfus) tomorrow won’t be easy. But my aim of winning the race remains unchanged.”

Timo Scheider (AUTO TEST Audi RS 5 DTM), grid position 4
“A clean qualifying session without any problems and with a good way of making it into Q4. When I heard of Marco Wittmann’s time over the radio I knew that this lap could only be beaten with a lot of risk. And the risk in my case was a bit too high. Compared with my personal best time I was faster initially. I then tried to give everything and took too much of a risk. In the end, it was the second row. We can help Mike (Rockenfeller) and finish on the podium ourselves – that’ll be our aim tomorrow.”

Filipe Albuquerque (Audi Financial Services RS 5 DTM), grid position 6
“It was a very close qualifying session. The team did a great job after free practice because I wasn’t completely happy with the car this morning. I’m hoping that, like at Oschersleben, I’ll be able to make up four places again. The race will be very long and it’ll be very close.”

Edoardo Mortara (Playboy Audi RS 5 DTM), grid position 7
“It was a disappointing qualifying session for us. We were quick in Q2 and there was greater potential. Then, in Q3, we had lower grip than in Q2 and didn’t make it into the last qualifying qualifying segment.”

Adrien Tambay (Audi ultra RS 5 DTM), grid position 9
“I’m not completely happy with my performance. Q4 was possible today but I made a mistake in the penultimate turn. I’m sorry for the team. But ninth place isn’t bad. We’re going to battle in the race!”

Miguel Molina (Audi RS 5 DTM), grid position 10
“As always in the DTM, it was very close. We were always at the limit: 16th place in Q1, tenth in Q2, and always barely another lap forward. Subsequently, I wasn’t completely happy with Q3. But it’s always good to make it into the top ten. With that, we’ve got a good chance to help ‘Rocky’ (Mike Rockenfeller) and Phoenix in the battle for the title.”

Mattias Ekström (Red Bull Audi RS 5 DTM), grid position 11
“I’m looking forward to the race. But starting from position eleven is more difficult than when you’re further at the front. Half the field is in front of me, the other half is behind me. My aim is to overtake as many cars as possible. Those who know me know that we’ll only give up after the checkered flag has come out.”

Jamie Green (Red Bull Audi RS 5 DTM), grid position 17
“It was a short qualifying session. We only went out twice; the best lap came in the first outing. Before qualifying, we’d changed the set-up a bit and that didn’t pay off. Some of the changes weren’t positive. I first had to get used to the car in qualifying, which isn’t ideal. On such a short weekend, you’ve only got little time for changes.” 

Hans-Jürgen Abt (Team Director Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline): “It was a close qualifying session again. But we’re pleased with our starting base because we believe that we’ve got a good race set-up. We’ll see to supporting ‘Rocky’ (Mike Rockenfeller) tomorrow; we’re starting from the same row.” 

Ernst Moser (Team Director Audi Sport Team Phoenix): “A good qualifying session with both cars among the top ten. That’ll help us a lot in the team classification, as the two Mercedes, which are leading the standings, are far at the rear. We’ve achieved a lot and are closely trailing Augusto Farfus. We’re going to try and stay on his heels in the race or to overtake him. ‘Thanks’ to the team and the two drivers who showed very strong nerves.” 

Arno Zensen (Team Director Audi Sport Team Rosberg): “Positions six and seven aren’t so bad. In Q2, Edo (Mortara) drove the best time. But afterward he didn’t manage to do that well anymore. In each sector, he lost some time although everything on the car was the same. We’ve got a good base; we can build on that for the race tomorrow.”