|May 17, 2004
Audi to Compete in DTM Away Race in China
Touring car and Audi fans can look forward to a very special type of event: on 17 and 18 July, the DTM (German Touring Car Masters) will be competing in an away race right in the heart of boom town Shanghai, China. Audi will be fielding their two works teams, Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline and Audi Sport Infineon Team Joest, in the "East Race Festival".
Though not part of the DTM series, in which Audi just celebrated its first victory with the A4 DTM, the city race in Shanghai is expected to attract worldwide attention. The roughly 2.85-kilometre circuit is situated in the centre of the Chinese metropolis in the immediate vicinity of Orient Pearl Tower, one of Shanghai's landmarks. The "East Race Festival" is to be established as the major sporting event of Shanghai. At the same time, it will be the first large-scale international car race to be staged in mainland China.
"The fact that the city of Shanghai has selected the DTM as its partner for this new motor racing highlight proves the high prestige enjoyed by this series," says Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich. "For Audi, China has meanwhile become one of the world's three major markets. Consequently, we particularly welcome the opportunity of being able to present the fascination of the DTM along with our technology," adds Erich Schmitt, Member of the Board Purchasing, who is responsible for the Chinese market at AUDI AG. "AUDI AG's DTM commitment also stands for the performance of the brand."
Since 1988, Audi have been the leading manufacturer of premium cars in China. In addition to the A6, the Audi A4 has been produced at the Changchun plant since April 2003. China imports the Audi A8, Audi A4 convertible, four-wheel quattro and Audi TT. The new A8 was launched on the Chinese market in mid-2003. After Germany and the United States, China has meanwhile become the third-largest A8 market in the world. Altogether, Audi's 2003 vehicle sales in China amounted to 63,531 units. In the first quarter of 2004, Audi posted a 44 per cent increase over prior year sales.
Neither is China new terrain for Audi Sport: last year, Emanuele Pirro did a few laps around the "Forbidden City" in Beijing in an Audi R8. In Shanghai, the car that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans aroused attention as well. "The stints with the R8 in China were a very special experience for me," says Emanuele Pirro. "There was an incredible amount of enthusiasm and interest. I'm sure that the DTM race at Shanghai will be a resounding success and that we'll be autographing more pictures than anywhere else before."