A debut for the DTM: after four races at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya, the almost traditional Spanish round of the most popular international touring car series from May 21 to 23 will be held at Valencia for the first time. With the young, just 21-year-old Spaniard Miguel Molina, Audi has a local hero in its line-up.
During the official pre-season tests at Valencia the young Spaniard shone by posting the second-best time and immediately clinched a point in his DTM debut at Hockenheim at the end of April. Just the second DTM round in his career will be a home race to which “Magic” Molina, as his team has nicknamed him, is looking forward with particularly eager anticipation.
- Home race for Audi driver Miguel Molina
- First DTM round at Valencia, Spain
- 100th DTM race for title defender Timo Scheider
- In-depth analysis of tire failures at Hockenheim
“A home round is always something special for a racer,” says the Catalonian, who calls Lloret de Mar, a town about 400 kilometers north of Valencia, home. “I’m hoping to be able to help make the DTM similarly popular in Spain as it is in Germany. I was amazed to see the level of enthusiasm for the DTM there. It was a completely new feeling for me to be driving in front of such a big crowd at Hockenheim and to write such a large number of autographs.”
Ever since Molina has been signed by Audi Sport, interest in the DTM has notably increased in Spain. For the first time, the TV channel Onda6 is airing live broadcasts of all DTM races this year. “In every interview with Spanish media I tell people: ‘join us at Valencia for the race! You’ll get to see a great show,’” says the DTM rookie.
With a population of 805,000, Valencia is Spain’s third-biggest city. The Mediterranean metropolis became world famous as the venue of the America’s Cup, the world’s most popular sailing regatta. Since 2008, Formula 1 has been racing on a city street circuit in Valencia’s harbor area. The DTM will hold its round at a 4,500-kilometer permanent race track about 20 kilometers from Valencia that was named after the Spanish motorcycle racer Ricardo Tormo who died of leukemia in 1998.
100th DTM race for Timo Scheider
Valencia is not only a very special event for Miguel Molina. The reigning DTM Champion Timo Scheider will contest the 100th DTM race of his career in Spain. This makes the Audi “factory” driver the only active DTM racer in the “100 club” of the most popular international touring car racing series. His two team colleagues Mattias Ekström (94 races to date) and Martin Tomczyk (93) will reach the 100-mark in the course of the season as well.
“Obviously, this is a special number,” says Scheider, who is the only driver in the field to have raced in the DTM when the series was re-launched in 2000. In 2006 the German who lives in Austria took a break and since 2007 he has been driving for Audi – with consummate passion. “It was always my dream to compete for Audi,” says Scheider, whose private garage recently became home to a white Audi R8 Spyder. “This is another dream I’ve been able to fulfill …”
After the season opener at Hockenheim, where Scheider started from position nine and finished seventh, did not go according to plan by any stretch of the imagination he can hardly wait to strike back at Valencia – provided the tires will let him.
The tire failures at Hockenheim continue to occupy Audi Sport and the DTM scene. “We’ve put a lot of effort into analyzing and reproducing the tire problems we had in the race at Hockenheim,” explains Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. Among other things, the track tests with Mattias Ekström and Timo Scheider at Almería (Spain) and tire rig tests at the universities in Hamburg and Aachen were conducted for this purpose. “We’ve gained a lot more knowledge about the new tire generation, but this hasn’t solved the problem yet, which is pretty complex. I would like to stress again that we clearly complied with the requirements specified by the tire manufacturer at Hockenheim. The problem is by no means just on our side of the house. But we’ll do everything within our means to ensure that the tire failures we had at Hockenheim won’t occur again at Valencia.”
Other topics of the weekend
• How important is qualifying at Valencia?
• Does the 4,005-kilometer circuit offer overtaking opportunities?
• How will the new Dunlop tires work in the summer temperatures to be expected?
• Will the 2008-spec vehicles again be on an equal footing with the 2009-spec models?
• How many spectators will turn out for the DTM debut at Valencia?
Quotes by the officials
Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): “We’ve had an official test at Valencia, so we’ve got some data. I’m assuming, though, that we’ll have different weather conditions in May. We’ve tried to get a handle on the tire problems. That was a lot of work. Our goal is to recover the points we lost at the season opener. I’m eager to see the response to the DTM at its first round at Valencia. After all, with Miguel Molina contesting the series, the DTM field includes a Spanish racer for the first time. I’m hoping that a very large turnout of local fans will keep their fingers crossed for him.”
Hans-Jürgen Abt (Team Director Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline): “Our goal is to strike back at Valencia. We’ve tried to learn from the problems we had at Hockenheim. The fact that we’ve tested at Valencia before will probably be helpful. With this year’s tire generation, it seems to be particularly difficult to combine performance and durability. The round at Valencia, no doubt, will be exciting.”
Ernst Moser (Team Director Audi Sport Team Phoenix): “That we were able to test at Valencia for four days suits us well. We learned a lot and completed a few qualification and race simulations. “We’re well sorted. Alex (Prémat) and ‘Rocky’ were both very fast during the test. I think that we’ll be able to run at the very front of the field again.”
Arno Zensen (Team Director Audi Sport Team Rosberg): “Valencia is a new race track on the DTM calendar, which I didn’t know before. We had the chance to get to know it during the test and I must say that it’s a fantastic facility. Depending on where you sit as a spectator, you may have a full view of the circuit. We’re already looking forward to a new challenge.
- Audi Motorsport