|July 23, 2004
Audi Driver Ekström Wants Championship Lead Back
The DTM returns to Germany only two weeks after the Asian guest performance in Shanghai (China): The "Touring Car Top Class" performs at the Nürburgring between 30th July and 1st August. Audi works driver Mattias Ekström travels to the Eifel with only a three point deficit to front runner Christijan Albers and wants to take the championship lead back for Audi. The omens look good: Three of the previous five DTM races held at the Nürburgring ended in victories for Audi. Traction and downforce are of particular importance around the 3.629 kilometre long sprint course - both of which are strengths of the Audi A4 DTM.
In addition, most of the Audi drivers have good memories of the Nürburgring. Mattias Ekström took pole position and narrowly missed winning the race last year. Emanuele Pirro succeeded in winning on his debut DTM race there back in 1990. Ex-DTM champion Frank Biela celebrated his last DTM victory to date in 1992, and returns, on the back of the Audi DTM comeback, to his home circuit.
The Nürburgring race begins at the usual time of 2:00 P.M. on Sunday. Ronny Ackermann will also keep his fingers crossed for the Audi squad: The defending World Champion and two-time overall Nordic Combination World Cup winner will follow the race live as Audi guest at the Nürburgring. ARD begins its live broadcast at 1:45 P.M.
Pre race quotes
Mattias Ekström (Audi Sport Team Abt / Audi A4 DTM #5): "I'll travel with great expectations to the Eifel. We were very quick from the word go there last year. Even though we race with the Audi A4 DTM now - the Nürburgring was and is an Audi circuit. At the Norisring there were simply too many Mercedes boys up the front for my taste - its time for me to take revenge."
Martin Tomczyk (Audi Sport Team Abt / Audi A4 DTM #6): "The Nürburgring is my favourite track on the DTM calendar. Quite simply it's a circuit that really suits me and I was always quick and amongst the leading group over the last few years. Therefore the goal is to qualify well and have a problem free race. I'm convinced that if I can reach the finish I'll be up at the front and score lots of points."
Christian Abt (Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline / Audi A4 DTM #11): "My goal at the Nürburgring is clear: Its time to finally score points. I don't actually like the circuit that much as it doesn't have much grip. However, my results over the last few years were usually good, and I have already had many fantastic races in the Eifel. That's why the Nürburgring is something very special for me every year."
Tom Kristensen (Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline / Audi A4 DTM #12): "After a brief trip to Tokyo, where, together with Team Goh, we celebrated our Le Mans victory I'm back in action again almost immediately at the Nürburgring. I'm convinced that the test work we completed in Adria before the race in Shanghai will reap dividends there. Our entire team is exceptionally well prepared for the second half of the season."
Emanuele Pirro (Audi Sport Infineon Team Joest / Audi A4 DTM #44): "I can hardly wait to get behind the wheel of my A4 again. The Nürburgring is my favourite circuit. We made progress with the set-up of the A4 during the test in Adria and also in Shanghai. I want to continue the positive trend at the Nürburgring and start just as far up the grid as we did in Shanghai."
Frank Biela (Audi Sport Infineon Team Joest / Audi A4 DTM #45): "Zolder and the Nürburgring are my home races, which is why I'm really looking forward to starting with the DTM at the Nürburgring. The short loop is more interesting since the track was modified. A good set-up is very important, and you need a lot of mechanical grip. Even though it is not reflected in the result, I was extremely satisfied with my car during the race in Shanghai - that gives me hope for the Nürburgring."
Hans-Jürgen Abt (Team Director Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline): "Our A4 race cars arrived again in Kempten, allowing us to prepare with utmost concentration for the Nürburgring. The Shanghai adventure knitted the entire Audi team even more together - every single mechanic wants the lead in the championship back, and for the first time we are even looking forward to the somewhat cooler temperatures in the Eifel..."
Ralf Jüttner (Technical Director Audi Sport Infineon Team Joest): "A clear upward trend was noticeable with us in Shanghai. It would seem that the test has helped, because we were able to try many things with the tyres and car. Our goal for the Nürburgring is as follows, to get both cars to qualify for Super Pole. Then we have a good chance to score points, which is not only important for us but also as support for Mattias in the title battle."
Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): "We want to make sure that we stay in the running for the championship at the Nürburgring. Obviously it would be useful if Mattias managed to overhaul Christijan (Albers) again. To give us the best possible chances of this we want to repeat the excellent team performance from Qualifying in Shanghai. The odds are in our favour as the Nürburgring certainly suits our A4 DTM a lot better than the Norisring."