- Second half of the season starts at the Nürburgring
- Audi drivers aim to recapture lead of the standings
- Positive mid-point track record for Audi
The second half of the DTM season will start at the Nürburgring on August 16. Audi driver Mattias Ekstrom will come to the Eifel with the same point score as the leader of the standings Gary Paffett. Just one point behind them another Audi driver – title defender Timo Scheider – is lying in wait. The gaps between the front runners could hardly be any smaller than this.
If Timo Scheider had not been retroactively stripped of his eighth place at Zandvoort as many as three drivers would now have 28 points to their credit. But even the current standings mark a premiere: The “new” DTM has never seen two drivers with the same point score after the first five races. To date, the smallest gaps occurred in 2003, 2005 and 2008 when the respective leader of the standings was separated from his closest rival by one point.
For Mattias Ekstrom, this starting base is by no means unusual: When he clinched his two champion’s titles, in 2004 and 2007, the Swede from Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline was the runner-up halfway through the season – just as he is now.
However, Ekstrom would currently have a clear lead of the standings if a puncture two laps before race end at the Hockenheim season opener had not deprived him of victory. It cost the Swede eight points.
Ekstrom’s track record in the first half of the season is impressive nevertheless: Twice he started from the pole position, three times from the front row, and four times he mounted the podium. In addition, the Audi driver is the only contender in the entire field to have led each of the previous five races for at least one lap – a total of 66.
Title defender Timo Scheider – who was running in first place on 85 laps so far and celebrated his first victory of the season at Oschersleben – is the only driver to have put in more time as the race leader.
As many as seven different Audi drivers have enjoyed the feeling of being the front runner in a DTM race, compared to just three on the part of Mercedes. With a score of 169:91 leading laps, this tally clearly favors Audi.
In terms of points Audi with a score of 100:95 has the upper hand after the first half of the season as well. In the duel of the 2009-spec cars the score of victories is tied at 2:2. Four out of five possible fastest laps have been posted by Audi and in all five races an A4 DTM was starting from pole position.
Audi wants to continue this string at the Nürburgring and, if possible, follow up the brand’s 50th DTM win with victory number 51. According to the law of averages it will be Audi’s turn anyway: Since 2004, Mercedes and Audi have been taking turns at winning the races in the Eifel.
The squad around Head of Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich still has some unfinished business from last year when the team massively lost on a tire gamble and scored only a fifth-place finish after having started from grid positions one to three.
Looking at the statistics, the probability that it will rain again in the Eifel is pretty high: In the past four years, it rained on at least one day of the DTM weekend at the Nürburgring. In 2005, 2006 and 2008, rain showers heightened the level of suspense on race day as well.
Quotes before the DTM race at the Nürburgring
Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): “Unfortunately, we didn’t manage winning at the Nürburgring last year. That’s why we’re aiming to take our momentum from Oschersleben with us. In terms of characteristics, the Nürburgring is a completely different track on which things haven’t always been going all that well for us, but on which we’ve also won races. We’re all working toward the goal of being extremely well prepared for the Nürburgring. If we do a good job of putting our whole package together it should be possible to again score a lot of points for Audi there.”
Mattias Ekstrom (Red Bull Audi A4 DTM 2009 #5), 2nd place (28 points)
“I’ve always enjoyed being at the Nürburgring – not just because of the Nordschleife … I’m simply comfortable there and eager to see the new attractions that are now available at the Nürburgring. And of course I’m looking forward to continuing the thrilling fight with Timo (Scheider), Gary (Paffett), Bruno (Spengler) and all the others.”
Timo Scheider (GW:plus/Top Service Audi A4 DTM 2009 #1), 3rd place (27 points)
“The Nürburgring has always been very special to me because it’s my home circuit. I’m hoping to see many of my fans come to the venue again who can also again look forward to our annual invitation to free beer, this time in the old paddock. I’m hoping that we’ll be able to carry the good spirit from Oschersleben to the Nürburgring. The performance should be right there too. We need to work hard and do a good job.”
Oliver Jarvis (Audi Cup A4 DTM 2008 #15), 7th place (14 points)
“The Nürburgring is my team’s home race. I’m expecting us to be very strong there. At the last races we had a very good pace and I’m hoping that we’ll be able to score lots of points.”
Tom Kristensen (100 Jahre Audi – A4 DTM 2009 #2), 8th place (13 points)
“As always, I’m particularly looking forward to the Nürburgring: For me, it’s simply the home of German motorsport. In addition, the circuit is situated in a very picturesque setting of the Eifel. Around the Nürburgring there’s a lot of motorsport industry. And, thanks to the old circuit, the Nürburgring has a proud tradition. The sprint circuit on which we’re racing fits the DTM cars well. There are always good races there – particularly when it rains.”
Martin Tomczyk (Red Bull Cola Audi A4 DTM 2009 #6), 9th place (11 points)
“The Nürburgring is an interesting race track. Like in previous years, Mercedes will probably be very strong there – but, definitely, so will we. The field will be pretty balanced. The small weight advantage we’ve got doesn’t play such a crucial role as it did at Oschersleben. Still, I’m hoping for us to manage a similar result.”
Markus Winkelhock (Playboy Audi A4 DTM 2008 #12), 11th place (5 points)
“The Nürburgring is a circuit that suits me particularly well. In Formula 3, I was regularly on the podium there and have got fond memories as far as my Formula 1 Grand Prix is concerned. I’m very much looking forward to the race and hope that things will be going better for me than they did at Oschersleben.”
Mike Rockenfeller (S line Audi A4 DTM 2008 #11), 13th place (2 points)
“The Nürburgring is my home race which I’m really looking forward to. I was on the front row there last year and I’m hoping that this time we’ll be quick again and that I – unlike at the past two races – will finally make it through the first lap without any body contact, damage and problems.”
Katherine Legge (Audi Collection A4 DTM 2008 #21), 17th place (0 points)
“We showed that we’re fast in the last few races. But something always went wrong. For me, the beginning of the second half of the season is something like a new start. The Nürburgring is one of the world’s most famous race tracks in a really beautiful landscape. I enjoy driving there.”
Alexandre Prémat (Audi Bank A4 DTM 2008 #14), 20th place (0 points)
“I love this circuit and have had major exploits at the Nürburgring. It’s up to us to make a good showing there. I’ll give everything I’ve got to clinch good results in qualifying and the race. My goal is clear: I finally want to score points!”
Hans-Jürgen Abt (Team Director Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline):“After the 50th Audi victory we’re hot for more. We want to continue our performance from Oschersleben at the Nürburgring.”
Ernst Moser (Team Director Audi Sport Team Phoenix):
“That’s the home round for Phoenix Racing and a clear challenge for our drivers and our team to deliver a super result there. We’ve frequently seen capricious weather at the Nürburgring. In this case I’d listen to the farmers from the Eifel with respect to my choice of tires.”
Arno Zensen (Team Director Audi Sport Team Rosberg):
“In the second half of the season we definitely want to score more points than in the first one. We already had the chance to clinch points in the past two races but we bungled it. At the Nürburgring we want to change that.”
Facts and figures
The Nürburgring was officially opened in 1927, the new Grand Prix circuit in 1984 … Since 2003, the DTM has been using the 3.629-kilometer sprint circuit, also known at the “short version” … Audi has won seven DTM races at the Nürburgring since 1990, most recently in 2007 with Martin Tomczyk … In the past two years, Audi clinched the pole position (Martin Tomczyk in 2007, Tom Kristensen in 2008) … For Audi Sport Team Phoenix based in Meuspath, Timo Scheider, Mike Rockenfeller and Arno Zensen, the race at the Nürburgring is a “home round” … Due to the Track & Field World Championship ARD will not broadcast qualifying from the Nürburgring in real time, but from 2:30 to 3:15 pm (local time). The race will be broadcast live as usual starting at 1:45 pm.
Mike Rockenfeller about the sprint circuit of the Nürburgring: “For a driver, no doubt there are more interesting tracks than the sprint circuit of the Nürburgring. In particular there’s a lack of fast turns. Still, the track isn’t easy. A perfect set-up of the car is crucial and it’s not easy to find a good balance for the sprint circuit. In addition, there are some extremely slow turns where traction and a solid job of driving count. Braking into turn 1 is a particular challenge because you arrive at high speed and the turn then drops off toward the outside. The place I enjoy most is the Bit turn which is also a very important corner. You tend to drive it a little too fast – but then you’ll lack the momentum for the next turn.”
Victories: Mercedes 3; Audi 2
Pole positions: Audi 5; Mercedes 0
Fastest laps: Audi 4; Mercedes 1
Leading laps: Audi 169; Mercedes 91
Points: Audi 100; Mercedes 95
The schedule at the Nürburgring
Friday, August 14
16:30 – 17:00 hrs Roll-out
Saturday, August 15
08:45 – 11:15 hrs Free practice
13:35 – 14:22 hrs Qualifying
Sunday, August 16
09:35 – 10:05 hrs Warm-up
14:03 hrs Race