- Mattias Ekstrom stays cool in weather chaos
- Three Audi A4 DTM cars on two front rows
- Mike Rockenfeller on grid position three in year-old A4
For the first time ever, an Audi A4 DTM will start from the top grid position at a DTM race at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz. In extremely difficult conditions the Swede Mattias Ekstrom – like at the Hockenheim season opener – clinched the pole position for Audi. With Mike Rockenfeller and Timo Scheider on positions three and four, two other Audi drivers will start the race on Sunday from the two front rows of the grid.
Rain setting in immediately after the qualifying had started made for a hectic first segment (Q1), in which fast times could only be posted on the very first lap that was still almost dry. Mattias Ekstrom (Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline) was the only driver to make it into the top 14 at the last moment on the track that was by then wet from rain, thus qualifying for the second section. Hockenheim winner Tom Kristensen (17th place) on the other hand failed to get past Q1, as did his brand colleagues Alexandre Prémat (15th), Martin Tomczyk (16th) and Oliver Jarvis (18th).
“We had not expected rain in the first qualifying segment and decided at the beginning to scrub rain tires for the subsequent qualifying sections,” said Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “Things didn’t go as planned, but hindsight is always twenty-twenty vision. We’re pleased that in the end ‘Eki’ clinched pole for Audi nevertheless – especially on a track that never suited us particularly well in the past.”
On the track that was extremely slippery with air temperatures of just 13 degrees, Mattias Ekstrom proved his exceptional caliber yet again. He posted the best time in Q2, missed it in Q3 by merely 0.076 seconds and secured the 13th pole position in his DTM career in the crucial fourth section by more than two tenths of a second. “My car was really good again today,” raved the Swede. “Despite the difficult conditions I felt comfortable in the cockpit the whole time. Of course I was lucky to some extent in the first part – we kept everyone in suspense somewhat … On the whole, the result is perfect. I’m very pleased.”
Mike Rockenfeller (Audi Sport Team Rosberg) was another Audi driver to manage the leap into the fourth qualifying segment in which he was unable to participate, though, because on the last lap of Q3, after posting a personal best time, he slid into the gravel trap. Despite this mishap, the youngster will start from the second row on Sunday along with Timo Scheider, who missed Q4 by just 38 thousandths of a second. On Sunday, both Audi drivers will benefit from the fact that Mercedes driver Gary Paffett will be relegated from second to seventh place on the grid due to a avoidable collision at the Hockenheim season opener.
Katherine Legge made a strong showing yet again: The Briton from Audi Sport Team Abt Lady Power finished in ninth place and thus clinched the best qualifying result of her DTM career so far, in the prevailing difficult conditions. Another Audi driver, Markus Winkelhock, will line up on the grid alongside Legge.
Tomas Kostka and Christian Bakkerud, who secured grid positions eleven and 13 in their two-year-old Audi A4 DTM cars fielded by the private team Kolles, showed a remarkable performance as well: Christian Seidlitz in the third Kolles A4 will be unable to start on Sunday after an accident in free practice.
The second race of the 2009 DTM season will start on Sunday at 2:03 pm. ARD will broadcast live starting at 2:00 pm (local time) on “Das Erste.”