After clinching places two and three in the season opener at Hockenheim, the Audi squad has set a clear goal for the second DTM round at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz on 30 April: this time the top position on the podium should be occupied by an Audi driver. One man, in particular, is familiar with the vista from there: Mattias Ekström. The Swede from Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline won two of the last three DTM races on the circuit located 130 kilometres south of Berlin – last September after a thrilling duel with Gary Paffett, which had spectators watching with bated breath over the entire 48-lap distance.
Ekström’s track record at the EuroSpeedway is impressive: five out of six events saw the fair-haired racer finish on the podium, twice at the very top. The former DTM Champion’s first podium result – in 2001 – was claimed at the “Lausitz” circuit as well. The Audi driver’s worst EuroSpeedway result so far was fourth place last May when a drive-through penalty was imposed on him after a collision with Jamie Green’s Mercedes.
Ekström and Green are considered hot candidates for the title in the most popular international touring car racing series this year, but neither of them finished the Hockenheim season-opener in the points. Though, both are under particularly high pressure this time and need to score to stay in the race for the title.
This promises a fierce competition because within the Audi squad Tom Kristensen and Heinz-Harald Frentzen, in particular, will give everything to repeat their performance at Hockenheim and to defend their positions. Both have good chances because the circuit suits them well, too: Frentzen started the race from the front row at the EuroSpeedway last September, Kristensen last May finished as the runner-up to claim the new Audi A4 DTM’s first podium result – having started from seventh place on the grid at that. Kristensen is eager to clinch his second victory in the DTM after Oschersleben in 2004. After Hockenheim, there is no doubt left in Frentzen’s mind that as an Audi driver he finally has the chance to manage his first victory in a DTM race.
This is what Martin Tomczyk is striving for as well. Tomczyk, who at the age of 24 is the youngest Audi driver, showed a qualifying performance at Hockenheim which proved that he is a contender to be reckoned with again this season. What is more, the season opener demonstrated the fact that the cars from last year have genuine chances for victory in the 2006 DTM season, too. Consequently, Christian Abt, Pierre Kaffer (both with Audi Sport Team Phoenix), Timo Scheider and Frank Stippler (both with Audi Sport Team Rosberg) are going to the EuroSpeedway with a high level of motivation – all four have scored points in the past.
Last but not least, Vanina Ickx wants to improve at the wheel of the 2004-spec A4 in her second DTM race. This will certainly be no mean feat because for the Belgian, who at Hockenheim had to handle as much interview stress as Heinz-Harald Frentzen, the EuroSpeedway is new territory again.