|July 31, 2004
Audi Driver Ekström to Start From First Row
After setting best times on Friday, Audi driver Mattias Ekström on Saturday again set the benchmark for the DTM race at the Nürburgring. The Swede in his Audi A4 DTM was the quickest in the free practice session as well as clocking a superior best time of 1m 23.390s in the qualifying. In the subsequent single timed lap of the top ten ("super pole"), though, the Swede fell short of his own benchmark by six tenths of a second, because his tyres failed to build up the same grip as in the qualifying session. Nevertheless, at 2 p.m. (local time - with live broadcast on ARD) on Sunday, Ekström will start from the first row ahead of the current leader of the standings, Christijan Albers. Starting from position three, Christian Abt has so far scored his best qualifying result of the season. After making some mistakes in the "super pole" session, Tom Kristensen and Martin Tomczyk will start the race from the fifth row of the grid. Emanuele Pirro came in eleventh, barely missing the top ten by two thousandths of a second, Frank Biela will start from position 14.
Quotes after qualifying
Mattias Ekström (Audi Sport Team Abt / Audi A4 DTM #5) 2nd place "super pole", 1m 24.062s
Christian Abt (Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline / Audi A4 DTM #11) 3rd place "super pole", 1m 24.173s
Tom Kristensen (Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline / Audi A4 DTM #12) 9th place "super pole", 1m 24.670s
Martin Tomczyk (Audi Sport Team Abt / Audi A4 DTM #6) 10th place "super pole", 1m 30.327s
Emanuele Pirro (Audi Sport Infineon Team Joest / Audi A4 DTM #44) 11th place, 1m 24.337s
Frank Biela (Audi Sport Infineon Team Joest / Audi A4 DTM #45) 14th place, 1m 24.574s
Hans-Jürgen Abt (Team Director Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline): "Considering that the whole weekend was going so well for us, it goes without saying that we'd been expecting a better result. We had the chance to get all four cars into the top five. This would have enabled us to give Mattias a little more backing. Yet, he'll be starting from the first row - and Christian from position three, which makes me feel particularly happy for him: it proves that he's still got what it takes."
Ralf Jüttner (Technical Director Audi Sport Infineon Team Joest): "Emanuele decided to take a gamble, driving two timed laps with his second set of tyres. This, obviously, meant that he'd shot his bolt. Three trials would have probably been better, though, because most of the drivers clocked their best times with their third set of tyres. Nevertheless, we have the chance of scoring points from positions eleven and 14. After all, we've managed to clinch points before after having started from much less favourable positions."
Dr Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): "Needless to say, we were aiming for pole after being so far ahead in all the practice sessions. Unfortunately - for various reasons - we weren't able to fully apply this advantage in the qualifying session. We now have to analyse why Mattias' tyres didn't have the same grip in the super pole lap as in the qualifying. Still, he'll be starting from the first row. Christian, as well, rendered a super performance. We've got four cars in the top ten, and that's a good basis for the race. Tomorrow, we're going to try to make the best of it."