Sunday, May 15, 2011

DTM: Audi's Mike Rockenfeller wins at Zandvoort

. Sunday, May 15, 2011

Marking his first-ever DTM race win, Audi Sport Team ABT Sportsline diver, Mike Rockenfeller would be the first to take the checkered flag at today's race in Zandvoort (The Netherlands). In addition to Rocky's triumph, Audi Sport Team Phoenix driver, Martin Tomczyk would finish in third place; putting two Audi drivers on the podium. Full report and photos after the jump.

Ingolstadt/Zandvoort, May 15, 2011 – A great motorsport weekend for Audi: A few hours after a 1-2-3-4 success of the Audi R8 LMS at the ADAC GT Masters at the Sachsenring, Le Mans winner Mike Rockenfeller clinched the first victory of the 2011 DTM season at Zandvoort (the Netherlands) for Audi.

For Audi, this marked the fifth exploit at Zandvoort since the brand’s return to the DTM with a "factory” commitment in 2004. For Mike Rockenfeller, it was the first-ever triumph in the most popular international touring car racing series. The 2010 Le Mans winner laid the foundation for his win by making a perfect start which allowed him to push himself between Bruno Spengler and Jamie Green. By making an early first pit stop "Rocky” managed to overtake Spengler as well. He then managed to gain a lead of up to three seconds in a perfectly setup A4 DTM of Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline and to control the pace at the front of the field.

"I feel relieved,” commented the 27-year-old. "The race at Hockenheim was frustrating. But we found the problem and did a perfect job of converting our findings into a success here. My thanks go to my team and to Audi. Both stops and the strategy were fantastic and my car was really fast. In the end I was even able to play it safe.”

With Martin Tomczyk from Audi Sport Team Phoenix finishing in third place, two Audi drivers mounted the podium at Zandvoort. The by far fastest driver of a year-old car lost some time at his first pit stop but then made up ground again and bumped Jamie Green from third place in a remarkable maneuver seven laps before the finish. "My car had been superbly prepared and was incredibly quick,” said Tomczyk. "At times I almost felt like I was in a different league. It’s nice to be among the front runners and in contention for the championship with a 2008-spec car.” The Audi racer even closed the gap to the leader of the standings, Bruno Spengler, on the penultimate lap but was unable to overtake him.

Timo Scheider in fifth place scored valuable points. The current Formula 3 Champion Edoardo Mortara (Audi Sport Team Rosberg) on position six finished in the points as early as at his second DTM race and was thus the best DTM rookie in the field.

A remarkable performance was also shown by Mattias Ekström. After a disappointing qualifying session the Swede pushed forward to eighth place from position 16 on the grid and, as a result, scored one point. Oliver Jarvis completed the top ten.

Miguel Molina and Rahel Frey finished the race on positions 15 and 17. Filipe Albuquerque slipped into the gravel trap in the notorious Tarzanbocht at the start and subsequently had to park his Audi A4 DTM with a damaged radiator.

"Despite the fact that qualifying wasn’t optimal we knew that our performance is good,” commented Head of Audi Motors Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. "We were optimistic that we’d even be able to win from the second row of the grid. On the whole, our cars were very quick today – thanks to the great job and hard work done by the whole squad. ‘Rocky’ drove a commanding race. Martin (Tomczyk) attacked superbly. To ‘Edo’ I take my hat off. He clinched points as early as at his second DTM race. And we did a good job of moving ‘Eki’ forward too. It was a fantastic performance overall!”

Quotes after the race:

Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): "Our cars today were simply exactly as fast again as they’d been before qualifying. We put that on track with a very aggressive strategy. Mike (Rockenfeller) drove a perfect race. Martin (Tomczyk) showed his potential. He was quick, aggressive and delivered a fair battle in every respect nonetheless. In addition, we brought Mattias (Ekström) into the points from grid position 16. ‘Edo’ Mortara scored points as early as at his second DTM race. Timo (Scheider) wasn’t quite as happy with his car and his fifth place tends to reflect his efforts to ‘contain the damage.’ But on the whole it was a fantastic showing by Audi.”

Mike Rockenfeller (E-POSTBRIEF Audi A4 DTM #9), position 1
"The race was simply perfect. After the warm-up I didn’t even expect this. But my engineer and my mechanics turned exactly the right screws for the race. The car was exactly the way I wanted it to be – simply fantastic. The foundation was laid by passing a Mercedes right at the start. Plus the early first stop: It gave me enough room to Bruno (Spengler). Afterward, I was able to control the race. I almost feel like a big load has been taken off my chest. It took a long time before I was finally able to sit in an A-car. After a good qualifying session but a poor race at Hockenheim this was exactly the right answer. The ten points are important. And then we’ll try and be even stronger from the outset in Austria.”

Martin Tomczyk (Schaeffler Audi A4 DTM #14), position 3
"After yesterday’s qualifying the direction was forward. We saw at the long runs that my car is very quick, so the main thing was to have a good strategy. And we did. Unfortunately, I lost some time at the first pit stop because the situation with Oliver (Jarvis) was very tight and I had to wait before I was able to drive off. Fortunately, I managed to make up the time on track and drive very fast and consistent lap times. The timing of the second pit stop was perfect. Afterward I was quick enough to close the gap to Jamie (Green) and to overtake him. I also moved up to Bruno (Spengler). Unfortunately, the race was over a bit too soon ... but with position three for me and with ‘Rocky’s’ win it could hardly have gone better!”

Timo Scheider (AUTO TEST Audi A4 DTM #4), position 5
”At first we were quick for six to seven laps after each stop. But then we had the same problem again as in the warm-up: The rear suspension dropped a bit, which clearly impaired the car’s balance. I haven’t had to fight so hard to finish a race in a long time. Below the line we’ve scored a few points. They’re important for the championship. But: That’s obviously not satisfactory.”

Edoardo Mortara (Playboy Audi A4 DTM #19), position 6
"It was a tough race because I’m still lacking experience to some extent. I had a good start but Schumacher came very close to me in turn one. I was very cautious on the first lap, trying to avoid touching other cars and damaging my own car. After an early first pit stop I was able to keep the pace on old tires in the second stint as well. The team had a great strategy and made a fast pit stop. We’re happy with this fantastic result.”

Mattias Ekström (Red Bull Audi A4 DTM #8), position 8
"An interesting race. Our car was faster today than it was yesterday. The grid position wasn’t good. But scoring one point is definitely better than leaving empty-handed. I certainly had to work pretty hard for this though.”

Oliver Jarvis (Audi Sport performance cars A4 DTM #5), position 10
"We managed to stay clear of all trouble and drove our own race. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a good start and it was difficult for me to make up positions. In the race we were quick – and that was clearly an improvement over qualifying.”

Miguel Molina (Red Bull Audi A4 DTM #22), place 14
"I had a good start but lost a few positions on lap one. My rhythm was good and so was the car’s balance. But the others were just as quick and we didn’t find an opportunity to overtake. My hopes are pinned on the next race.”

Rahel Frey (Glamour Audi A4 DTM #15), position 17
"I paid dearly in the race; it was my first time at Zandvoort. Once I got off the line and unfortunately hit even more sand when I started braking and then slid into the wall. That way I destroyed my own race early on. I tried to finish the race but the car was very hard to drive. Because I damaged my splitter, my A4 behaved very nervously. As I said – I paid dearly.”

Filipe Albuquerque (TV Movie Audi A4 DTM #18), retirement
"My start was okay. But in the first turn I made a braking mistake. Both wheels locked, I left the track and drove through the gravel trap otherwise I’d have hit Miguel (Molina). After that it was okay. But the engine temperature went up due to the defective radiator and I had to stop to keep from damaging the engine.”

Hans-Jürgen Abt (Team Director Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline): "’Well done’ to the whole team. It was very important for us to clinch a success today. We learned from the problems in qualifying and had a superb strategy. The whole team was right on the mark. The three quickest pit stops in the race speak for themselves. You need such a motivation boost once in a while. This strengthens us for the future and makes us hopeful.”

Ernst Moser (Team Director Audi Sport Team Phoenix): "That was a race exactly to our liking. Congratulations to Martin (Tomczyk), the team and to Audi. We managed to move forward quite a bit with our strategy. We opted for a long middle stint. In the end we were the quickest on the track on new tires. Martin had the chance for fantastic attacks and overtook a Mercedes. As expected, Rahel (Frey) is learning from race to race. She had an excursion and lost a lot of time. When she was running alone she set good lap times. She improves on every lap she drives and is gathering experience. We’re building on that.”

Arno Zensen (Team Director Audi Sport Team Rosberg): ”That was surely a fantastic race and a great advertisement for the DTM! I’m incredibly happy for Edoardo Mortara, who finished in the points. The team did an outstanding job. The stops went well, the strategy was superb. My thanks go to everyone. I’m happy! The only drop of bitterness was Filipe (Albuquerque) flying off the track right in turn one. He damaged the radiator in the incident and was forced to retire. We’ve seen that we’re in contention. We need to continue this way.”

Source: Audi Motorsport
Photos: Audi Motorsport and DTM Media