January 18, 2004
After its successful roll-out shortly before Christmas which was followed by tests in the wind tunnel and on a dynamic suspension test bench, the Audi A4 DTM has passed its first examination on a race track at Jerez in Spain. After five days of testing and completing over 1,000 kilometres in Audi´s new touring car, Audi factory drivers Emanuele Pirro, Mattias Ekström and Tom Kristensen were impressed by their new “tool”.
“I felt well in the car immediately,” explained Emanuele Pirro, who, on Wednesday, was the first of the three Audi drivers to climb into the cockpit of the new A4 after getting accustomed to a DTM car at the wheel of an Abt-Audi TT-R. “The A4 is real fun to drive. The car is very forgiving, you can really attack. Following the seat fitting at Ingolstadt, I had some worries regarding the extreme position of the seat. However, driving the car, this was not a problem at all.”
Similarly enthusiastic were the comments from Mattias Ekström. “After only 20 laps, I felt at home in the A4 DTM,” said the Swede. Having completed the past three seasons in the DTM, Ekström was in the best position to make comparisons: “Driving the car, there is no concrete difference to the TT-R. Nothing is in fact completely different, but everything a little better. Every detail is worked out and prepared absolutely professionally. The team of Audi Sport did not leave anything to chance while developing the car. Of course, after the first test, it is too early to evaluate the whole potential of a new car. In spite of that I am convinced that my team mates and I will have a lot of fun with the A4 DTM.”
At Jerez, Ekström also acted as a “driving instructor” for DTM newcomers Emanuele Pirro and Tom Kristensen. Five times Le Mans winner Kristensen got to grips with a DTM car at the wheel of the TT-R on Saturday before driving the Audi A4 DTM for the first time on Sunday. “We practiced everything: practice, qualifying, long-runs, starts, pit stops – the full programme,” explained Kristensen. “I knew the DTM only from watching television and did not know what to expect. After this first test I feel much more comfortable. The speed was there immediately and I know more about the DTM now – for example that I will again use my left foot for braking as in former times.”
Audi motorsport chief Dr Wolfgang Ullrich followed the tests at Jerez on site and returned satisfied to Ingolstadt: “The new Audi A4 DTM ran without problems and does not have any teething troubles. We got to know the car quite well during these five days and tried out various different set-up options. Our engineers have collected many valuable data which will help us developing the car.”