Martin Tomczyk and Timo Scheider also score points
At a thrilling opening to the DTM season in Hockenheim, 104,000 spectators were eyewitness to an excellent Audi team performance. The performances of both Tom Kristensen and Heinz-Harald Frentzen were particularly impressive: The pair carved their way through the field from grid positions nine and eight to clinch second and third at the chequer helped by a good strategy and perfect pit-stops. As a result, Frentzen claimed a podium position first time out in his first race with the Audi A4 DTM. With Martin Tomczyk, in seventh place, and Timo Scheider finishing eighth, two further Audi drivers scored points. Audi Sport Team Abt leads the teams championship.
Mattias Ekstrom, who jumped from sixth to third position at the start and who had eventual winner Bernd Schneider well in his sights after a quick opening pit-stop, was struck by bad luck when he was forced to retire his A4 with damage to the front right suspension. Christian Abt and Pierre Kaffer were also forced to retire. Frank Stippler lost his chance of points due to a problem during his second mandatory pit-stop. Olivier Tielemans and Vanina Ickx took the chequered flag in 13th and 15th position respectively on their DTM debuts.
Quotes after the race
Dr Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport)
“That really was a nail-biting race. Bearing in mind the starting positions we can be extremely satisfied with the result. A second and third position for Tom (Kristensen) and Heinz-Harald (Frentzen) is an excellent team performance. We demonstrated just how much potential is in the Audi A4 DTM, and saw that cars from both manufacturers are almost as quick as each other. Strategy and pit-stops still play an important role alongside fast driving. Today we saw just how high the level is in the DTM. Im already looking forward to the rest of the season.
Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline, Siemens Audi A4 DTM #7
2nd, + 4.268s
“Im obviously happy to have finished second after starting in ninth position. The team did a fantastic job in the pits and with the strategy. I drove absolutely on the limit. I edged closer and closer to Bernd and thought that I was in with a chance of winning. However, about eleven laps before the finish the steering wheel was suddenly skew after Id driven over the kerbs on the corner exit. I didnt risk anything after that kept well away from the outside kerbs. Thats why Im happy that I finished second. My thanks go to the team that got me into this position today.
Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline, Veltins Audi A4 DTM #6
3rd, + 6.279s
“Im really very satisfied. To be right at the front in the Championship from the word go is very important in the DTM. I knew just how good my A4 was and that I could translate this into results if everything fell into place. However, I was a little sceptical immediately after the start. I had huge understeer, couldnt attack and had to be careful that I didnt lose too many places. Thats why my crew called me in earlier. The balance was good again with new tyres. The strategy to take the second set of tyres early also paid off even though Mika (Häkkinen) got very close right at the end.
Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline, Red Bull Audi A4 DTM #4
7th place, + 19.397s
“My start was good up to the first corner when some of the Mercedes drivers got into each others way. I wanted to stay clear of all that. Mattias Ekström was next to me on the right-hand side, Bruno Spengler pulled over into my lane and touched me hard. I didnt want to pass this impulse on to Mattias, took my foot off the throttle and lost a few places. Bruno Spengler then made another mistake, got back into the lane and caught me full force. I had to drive through the grass, dropped back to eleventh place and my car was not perfect anymore. Apart from this, Im very satisfied with the whole weekend, because my team performed very well. I wanted to finish in the points, and I managed that by claiming seventh place.
Audi Sport Team Rosberg, Gebrauchtwagen plus Audi A4 DTM #16
8th place, + 23.482s
“Eighth place is basically positive, considering the fact that grid position 13 didnt give me ideal prerequisites for the race. With a fighting spirit and a bit of luck we claimed our first point. We kept improving our performance throughout the weekend and had a very good pace in the race. Im satisfied a big thank you to my team.
Audi Sport Team Rosberg, S line Audi A4 DTM #15
12th place, + 1m 02.638s
“My congratulations to Timo Scheider on the point he scored. Unfortunately my race didnt go according to plan. Because of all the body contact my chassis got damaged and we lost a few body parts. Unfortunately we had a problem with our radio communications, so our strategy didnt work any more either. In addition, there was a spill during the refuelling operation and that fuel was missing in the end.
Futurecom TME, Futurecom Audi A4 DTM #19
13th place, + 1m 30.373s
“Im very satisfied with my first DTM race. 13th place isnt bad with a 2004-spec car. Unfortunately, on the second set of tyres and because of the pit stops, I lost some time. Otherwise, perhaps I would have even finished as the second-best driver of a 2004-spec car. This was a good beginning.
Futurecom TME, Original Zubehor Audi A4 DTM #20
15th place, 1 lap
“This was a very good start into my DTM season and Im happy about having finished the race. In the beginning there was quite a commotion, some rivals drove through the gravel trap and you had to really watch out. I also had to evade Christian Abt who spun in the beginning. I stayed out of all this, pitted early and then had a clear track.
Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline, Red Bull Audi A4 DTM #5
Retired on lap 26 (front right suspension failure)
“I started from sixth place and was running in third after two corners. Im satisfied with that. My car had too much understeer to be really fast. I gave my best. The pit stops and the strategy, too, were good. Everything was okay when twelve laps before the end the front right-hand suspension broke. We need to analyse the reason for this.
Audi Sport Team Phoenix, Castrol Audi A4 DTM #14
Retired on lap 15 (steering failure after collision)
“My start wasnt perfect because I had to brake in the first corner and lost a few positions. We had a good speed but then my friend Stefan Mücke drove into my car once more. This destroyed my steering system, which of course is a real pity for the whole team.
Audi Sport Team Phoenix, Playboy Audi A4 DTM #12
Retired on lap 13 (suspension damage, left rear)
“The pace was extremely fast today. On the first laps I had the feeling wed be able to drive a good race. The car was quick, the set-up was right. So we did work in the right direction, but unfortunately a technical defect prevented me from finishing the race. That is disappointing, but Im looking forward to the next race already.
Hans-Jurgen Abt (Team Director Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline)
“The way the team worked and pulled Tom (Kristensen) and Heinz-Harald (Frentzen) so far to the front with a perfect strategy was sensational. We achieved a great team result. Of course it was too bad that Mattias (Ekström) retired. But our friends from Stuttgart had a few problems today, as well
In any event its been a thrilling race. I wouldnt mind if things continued this way.
Ernst Moser (Team Director Audi Sport Team Phoenix)
“Im elated about the cooperation with Audi Sport during our first joint race weekend. Its really fun to work this way. I hope our team will be more fortunate in the next race, though. Im very happy about Audis two podium places.
Arno Zensen (Team Direcot Audi Sport Team Rosberg)
“On the one hand, Im very happy with the outcome of the race because we scored the first point in our first race for Audi with Timo Scheider. On the other hand, Frank Stippler had been among the top ten for a long time but then ran short on fuel because we apparently made a mistake while refuelling his car. Altogether, Im not unhappy but we need to continue to work in order to move further towards the front.
1 Bernd Schneider (Mercedes), 37 laps in 59 m51.850s
2 Tom Kristensen (Siemens Audi A4 DTM), + 4.286s
3 Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Veltins Audi A4 DTM), + 6.279s
4 Mika Hakkinen (Mercedes), + 7.067s
5 Alexandros Margaritis (Mercedes), + 11.276s
6 Jean Alesi (Mercedes), + 17.399s
7 Martin Tomczyk (Red Bull Audi A4 DTM), + 19.397s
8 Timo Scheider (Gebrauchtwagen:plus Audi A4 DTM), + 23.482s
9 Bruno Spengler (Mercedes), + 40.626s
10 Susie Stoddart (Mercedes), + 44.918s
11 Mathias Lauda (Mercedes), + 53.284s
12 Frank Stippler (S line Audi A4 DTM), + 1m 02.638s
13 Olivier Tielemans (Futurecom Audi A4 DTM), + 1m 30.373s
14 Daniel la Rosa (Mercedes), 1 lap
15 Vanina Ickx (Original Zubehor Audi A4 DTM), 1 lap
Mattias Ekstrom (Red Bull Audi A4 DTM), 12 laps
Stefan Mucke (Mercedes), 14 laps
Pierre Kaffer (Castrol Audi A4 DTM), 23 laps
Christian Abt (Playboy Audi A4 DTM), – 25 laps
Jamie Green (Mercedes), 35 laps