Audi Shoots for Another Victory at EuroSpeedway
After clinching places two and three in the season opener at Hockenheim, the Audi squad has set a clear goal for the second DTM round at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz on 30 April: this time the top position on the podium should be occupied by an Audi driver. One man, in particular, is familiar with the vista from there: Mattias Ekstrom. The Swede from Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline won two of the last three DTM races on the circuit located 130 kilometres south of Berlin last September after a thrilling duel with Gary Paffett, which had spectators watching with bated breath over the entire 48-lap distance.
Ekstroms track record at the EuroSpeedway is impressive: five out of six events saw the fair-haired racer finish on the podium, twice at the very top. The former DTM Champions first podium result in 2001 was claimed at the “Lausitz circuit as well. The Audi drivers worst EuroSpeedway result so far was fourth place last May when a drive-through penalty was imposed on him after a collision with Jamie Greens Mercedes.
Ekstrom and Green are considered hot candidates for the title in the most popular international touring car racing series this year, but neither of them finished the Hockenheim season-opener in the points. Though, both are under particularly high pressure this time and need to score to stay in the race for the title.
This promises a fierce competition because within the Audi squad Tom Kristensen and Heinz-Harald Frentzen, in particular, will give everything to repeat their performance at Hockenheim and to defend their positions. Both have good chances because the circuit suits them well, too: Frentzen started the race from the front row at the EuroSpeedway last September, Kristensen last May finished as the runner-up to claim the new Audi A4 DTMs first podium result having started from seventh place on the grid at that. Kristensen is eager to clinch his second victory in the DTM after Oschersleben in 2004. After Hockenheim, there is no doubt left in Frentzens mind that as an Audi driver he finally has the chance to manage his first victory in a DTM race.
This is what Martin Tomczyk is striving for as well. Tomczyk, who at the age of 24 is the youngest Audi driver, showed a qualifying performance at Hockenheim which proved that he is a contender to be reckoned with again this season. What is more, the season opener demonstrated the fact that the cars from last year have genuine chances for victory in the 2006 DTM season, too. Consequently, Christian Abt, Pierre Kaffer (both with Audi Sport Team Phoenix), Timo Scheider and Frank Stippler (both with Audi Sport Team Rosberg) are going to the EuroSpeedway with a high level of motivation all four have scored points in the past.
Last but not least, Vanina Ickx wants to improve at the wheel of the 2004-spec A4 in her second DTM race. This will certainly be no mean feat because for the Belgian, who at Hockenheim had to handle as much interview stress as Heinz-Harald Frentzen, the EuroSpeedway is new territory again.
The second 2006 DTM round promises to be a real thriller. Tickets for race day start at a price of 15 euros and may be ordered at www.dtm.de, Audi fan packages at www.audi-dtm.de. ARD will broadcast the qualifying live on Saturday (29 April) starting at 1:35 p.m. (local time), the race on Sunday (30 April) starting at 1:45 p.m.
Quotes before the race at the EuroSpeedway
Dr Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): “We have good memories of the EuroSpeedway from last year and, since our DTM comeback as a manufacturer, have won two of three races there. The circuit should be suiting our Audi A4 DTM even a bit better yet than the Hockenheim track, that is why we have set our sights on victory of course. If our new teams continue to make progress, a strong team performance should be possible.
Hans-Jurgen Abt (Team Director Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline): “We have set a high benchmark for ourselves as a team and achieved a good result at Hockenheim. This is the way we want to continue. Our goal continues to be running four cars without making any mistakes and to improve our performance yet again. Lets face it, we want to be at the very front in the end. In the past two years, the EuroSpeedway suited us. We will try and finish one place better as at Hockenheim….
Ernst Moser (Team Director Audi Sport Team Phoenix): “After we learned a great deal during our first race for Audi at Hockenheim were going to the EuroSpeedway with a positive feeling. The Audi brand has achieved some nice exploits here in the past. As a team we were able to put pressure on our rivals there in the past on numerous occasions as well, and last year we were leading a DTM race for part of the time. Experience has shown that at the EuroSpeedway a great deal depends on the driver some like the circuit very much, others dont.
Arno Zensen (Team Director Audi Sport Team Rosberg): “Of course finishing in the points at Hockenheim in our first race for Audi was great but we do know that there is a lot more work for us to be done. At the EuroSpeedway we need to get a few things better than in the first race. Were working on this and hope that racing luck will continue to be with us.
Facts on the DTM race at the EuroSpeedway
All winners since 2001
Pole position 2005
DTM track record
2006 DTM points standings