“Home Game” for DTM Champions Audi
The DTM race at the Norisring on 17 July is Audi Sport’s “home game”, but nevertheless a very special challenge for the team of Dr Wolfgang Ullrich, Head of Audi Motorsport: The 2.3 kilometre street circuit between the Franken Stadium and the Dutzendteich, on which Audi has already won three DTM races (1990, 1991 and 2002), was not the A4 DTM car’s favourite circuit last year. Its main strengths were the corners – and there are just four of these at the Norisring.
Audi Sport Team Joest, with its four 2004-spec cars, faces a really tough race weekend. On the other hand, championship leader Mattias Ekstrom and his three Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline team mates fancy their chances of fighting for victory at the Norisring this time around: The new Audi A4 DTM with its striking single-frame radiator grille has a different aerodynamic configuration than last year’s championship winning car and is on a par with the competition as far as top speed is concerned.
Not only is pure top speed of importance at the Norisring but also efficient brake cooling and excellent traction – both disciplines in which Audi was always very strong and in which Audi Sport attached great value to during the preparation.
Things in Nuremburg are not only completely different because of the unusual circuit: Saturday’s qualifying and the race on Sunday will be held late in the afternoon to prevent a clash with the ARD “Tour de France” TV coverage. As usual, ARD broadcasts both events live. Last year 132,000 fans attended the Norisring weekend. The organisers expect even more spectator interest this year.
Quotes before the race at the Norisring
Mattias Ekstrom (Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline #1): “I have a lot of good memories of the Norisring: It was here that I took my first pole position in 2002 and followed it up with my first win – even if it was only in the short sprint race then. I also arrived at the Norisring as championship leader last year and lost it after the race – we certainly want to do things differently this time. I’m looking forward to the hubbub and the army of fans, because every racing driver dreams of such a motorsport highlight.”
Martin Tomczyk (Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline #2): “The Norisring is not necessarily the top circuit on the DTM calendar, but the race around the street circuit is always great fun, and something very special because of the incredible setting. I think that we’ll be in with a much better chance this year with our A4 and could even aim for a win.”
Tom Kristensen (Audi Sport Team Abt #5): “I’m convinced that we will be competitive at the Norisring. Our Audi A4 DTM should be very strong in the chicane and particularly under braking. I’m looking forward to the Norisring since it is the ‘DTM Grand Prix’, the most well-known race of the year visited by scores and scores of fans. It does however mean that the weekend will be very tense for both the teams and drivers…”
Allan McNish (Audi Sport Team Abt #6): “I’ve never driven at the Norisring and was never in Nuremberg. I heard that the event is quite spectacular. I remember sitting in front of the television in 1996 when Dario Franchitti drove at he Norisring. I’ve really found my feet during the last couple of races in the DTM and am confident as a result.”
Christian Abt (Audi Sport Team Joest Racing #14): “I’m looking forward to my home race. Things always went very well for me at the Norisring in the past. However, if I had one wish it would be to drive a new A4 particularly at this race, because it’s going to be very tough with last year’s cars. In spite of this I’ll be fighting like always and believe that I can get into the top ten during the race.”
Pierre Kaffer (Audi Sport Team Joest Racing #15): “I loved the Norisring in Formula 3 and the Carrera Cup. I’m really looking forward to the ‘German Monaco’. As always there’ll be masses going on, and I think that we’ll be able to give the spectators a great show again. Personally I hope to have a little more luck than I’ve had in the last three races.”
Rinaldo Capello (Audi Sport Team Joest #18): “The last time that I was at the Norisring was years ago. The circuit is very unusual, in fact not really a typical street circuit. I’m afraid that it is the most difficult circuit of the year for us, particularly as our year-old A4 love corners – at the Norisring however there are mainly straights. We’ll just have to live with it.”
Frank Stippler (Audi Sport Team Joest #19): “Thanks to information gained last season we know that we’ll have a tough job at the Norisring. Nevertheless the race is a without doubt a highlight in the calendar. Up till now, I’ve always had great results at the Norisring, although the hairpins are not really my scene. I’m intrigued as to just how the DTM Audi will perform there.”
Hans-Jurgen Abt (Team Boss Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline): “The Norisring weekend is a special challenge for us. There will be loads of Audi fans there. The working conditions for the team are particularly difficult, but we are more than happy to accept this because of the fantastic atmosphere. We prepared ourselves well for the home race. Everybody in the team is fully motivated and ready to settle the score from last year and repeat the victory from 2002.”
Ralf Juttner (Technical Director Audi Sport Team Joest): “The Norisring is Audi’s home game – but unfortunately we don’t have a home advantage, or at least not with our year-old cars, which will not be as quick as the new A4 on the straights. We really struggled here in 2004 and are prepared for a tough weekend. The entire team will try to make the most out of it. After all, a lot can happen at the Norisring.”
Dr Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): “The Norisring race is very important to us. On the one hand it is our home race, at which many Audi employees and fans will cheer us on from the stands, and, on the hand, the championship is incredibly close. Every point counts. We are preparing intensely for the race so that we can fight for top honours. The 2005 DTM cars are all very evenly matched as far as top speed is concerned. That’s why things look better to start with than last year. Nevertheless it will be one of the most difficult DTM races of the year, perhaps even the hardest.”