|April 17, 2005
Christian Abt Excels in Last Year's Audi
In front of an impressive backdrop of spectators (116,000 over the entire weekend), Christian Abt proved the quality of a "used" Audi in the DTM season opener at Hockenheim: in his first DTM race for Audi Sport Team Joest, Abt - after a starting collision, in which he was not at fault, that sent him into a spin - fought his way up from 16th to fourth place, just missing a podium position with the champion's car from last year. Title defender Mattias Ekström, who had started the race from pole position with the new A4 DTM, was fighting a thrilling duel with Gary Paffett for several laps. The lead alternated between these two several times before Ekström - following his first pit stop - lost a lot of time behind slower cars to ultimately finish the race in fifth place.
Frank Stippler and Allan McNish finished their DTM debuts tenth and eleventh places respectively. Pierre Kaffer was in seventh place, and thus in the points, prior to being touched by a competitor just before the end of the race, which forced him to retire. Tom Kristensen and Rinaldo Capello got involved in a multiple-car collision at the first corner immediately after the start. Two turns later, Martin Tomczyk collided with a competitor and had to retire as well.
Quotes after the race
Christian Abt (Audi Sport Team Joest Racing #14)
Mattias Ekström (Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline #1)
Frank Stippler (Audi Sport Team Joest Racing #19)
Allan McNish (Audi Sport Team Abt #6)
Pierre Kaffer (Audi Sport Team Joest Racing #15)
Martin Tomczyk (Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline #2)
Tom Kristensen (Audi Sport Team Abt #5)
Rinaldo Capello (Audi Sport Team Joest Racing #18)
Hans-Jürgen Abt (Team Director Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline): "We had a lot of bad luck with the starting accident and all the confusion after the safety car phase. Still, we have to clearly say as well that we weren't able to keep up the pace over the distance. We need to work on this."
Ralf Jüttner (Technical Director Audi Sport Team Joest): "Today, we tried to promote `Audi Gebrauchtwagen:plus' - this has worked out very well. Christian delivered a tremendous race, but Pierre and Frank, as well, did a super job of driving and could have scored points. We owe Frank an apology for the first pit stop where a wheel nut jammed. All other stops went off perfectly. We are incredibly happy, because our team performance was really a class act. I'd have never thought that this would work out so well. Christian now has more points already than he did all of last year. It would be nice if things continued going this way."
Dr Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): "Altogether, this just hasn't been our day. On the first lap we lost three cars and then had some bad luck with our timing of the pit stops. After pitting, Mattias got stuck in traffic, which caused him to lose a lot of time. That decided the race, because - towards the end - everyone at the front of the field was clocking nearly identical lap times. Christian drove a really fantastic race, and I can only express my congratulations to him."