|March 31, 2006
DTM Opener Includes Numerous Audi Premieres
On Sunday 9 April the eager DTM fans must wait no longer: Following the long winter break the new DTM season starts in Hockenheim and with it the first round of the eagerly awaited prestigious duel between Audi and Mercedes-Benz.
For Audi it is a race of premieres: Ten Audi A4 DTM cars line up on the grid for the first time ever. With the Belgian Vanina Ickx a woman competes for Audi in the DTM for the first time. Ex-Formula 1 driver Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Timo Scheider and privateer Olivier Tielemans compete their first race with the Audi A4 DTM, and with the Phoenix and Rosberg factory teams, and the new customer team Futurecom TME alongside the established Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline there are three new Audi teams in action.
The DTM qualifying format is also new: In similar fashion to Formula 1, the grid positions for the race are determined in a three-part "Shoot Out”. The ARD television channel "Das Erste” broadcasts qualifying live from Hockenheim on Saturday 8 April from 1:35 p.m., the race on Sunday from 1:45 p.m.
More than 138,000 spectators at the DTM presentation in Düsseldorf demonstrated the enormous attraction that the DTM now possess. Last year’s finale in Hockenheim was held in front of a record crowd of 148,000 fans. Advanced ticket sales for the opening race of the season are running at maximum capacity. Tickets are available on the Internet at www.audi-dtm.de and www.dtm.de as well as on the day.
Quotes before the season opener at Hockenheim
Dr Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): "We’ll see just where we are at Hockenheim. The tests went well, but you never know exactly who was sandbagging or not. We also know from experience that Hockenheim is a very special circuit and what you see there is not necessarily how the season unfolds. I think that we prepared thoroughly, and the fans can look forward to an exciting opening DTM race. The entire Audi team is also pleased that the season is about to start.”
Martin Tomczyk (Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline #4): "The first race of the year always shows just who did their homework during the winter. I think we worked well and things are looking good. I like the circuit at Hockenheim. My goal is to finish as high as possible in the points.”
Mattias Ekstrom (Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline #5): "I’m delighted that the season is finally about to start after such a long winter and that everyone will have to give 100 per cent. I’m really interested to see just how strong the individual teams, drivers and cars are. The crowds of spectators at Hockenheim are always fantastic. I like the circuit although I’m missing a win there. I do however have another chance on Sunday…”
Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline #6): "I’m intrigued to see how the Audi A4 handles at Hockenheim. I’ll have the first opportunity to make a genuine comparison to last year. I’m also interested to see exactly how we measure up and just how the new qualifying system works. There could be a few surprises. I always liked Hockenheim in the past, since the circuit layout was modified the track is much more interesting for the spectators. They see the cars more often, and it’s easier to overtake.”
Tom Kristensen (Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline #7): "It seems like only yesterday that we were at the final at Hockenheim. The winter was very short for me, since I’m also part of the Audi R10 TDI project and we also developed the Audi A4 DTM. I’m convinced that we’ll be quicker than we were at the finale. The new car seems to function well. The season started perfectly for me with a win at Sebring with the R10 TDI. I can hardly wait for the DTM to get started. I’m very motivated!”
Christian Abt (Audi Sport Team Phoenix #12): "I like the Hockenheimring, the results over the last three years have been promising. If I can improve my performance still further it might be possible to finish on the podium. The first race is always something special, because it influences the entire season. You have to reveal your hand at Hockenheim. Just three days of preparation with my new team was not much. But we will give our all.”
Pierre Kaffer (Audi Sport Team Phoenix #14): "I’ve set my goals very high for the 2006 DTM. I feel comfortable within the Phoenix squad around Ernst Moser and want to finish in the points at Hockenheim. It’ll be difficult to hit the ground running at the first race without much preparation. The driver can’t afford to make any mistakes, and the pit stops must be faultless.”
Frank Stippler (Audi Sport Team Rosberg #15): "Unfortunately I couldn’t test as much as I’d like to have done before start of the season. Nevertheless, I’ll do my best. I had a good race at the finale last year at Hockenheim. I’d obviously like to repeat this. In the past Mercedes was a little bit faster down the straight at Hockenheim, but we were faster in the Motodrom. So, it should be very exciting again.”
Timo Scheider (Audi Sport Team Rosberg #16): "I want to arrive at Hockenheim perfectly prepared and in excellent condition, and settle in the DTM again. From the sporting aspect I’d like to come away with some pints. The best thing would be if I could spring a surprise from the word go and finish in the top-five with a 05 car.”
Vanina Ickx (Futurecom TME #20): "My DTM debut will certainly be hard work. I want to be consistent, make very few mistakes and have a good race. I still can’t believe that I’m really now a part of the DTM and especially as a member of the Audi family. A dream comes true, I feel like a princess at Audi. Now I must also show that I deserve the seat.”
Olivier Tielemans (Futurecom TME #19): "I think that Hockenheim will be a very special occasion for me. I’ll be driving for the first time in front of such a huge crowd. I know Hockenheim from Formula 3000, I like the circuit and am looking forward to the race. It’s fantastic to be able to compete at the age of 21 in the DTM – after all the DTM is the top of European racing.”
Hans-Jurgen Abt (Team Director Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline): "We are all very interested to see what happens at Hockenheim. The opening round of the big match between Audi and Mercedes starts. We worked very hard over the winter to improve our performance. We hope that we can make the most of it at Hockenheim. The competition is tough but our team is motivated and well prepared.”
Ernst Moser (Team Director Audi Sport Team Phoenix): "Whoever races wants to achieve the best possible result – that’s why we are also expecting a lot at the first race at Hockenheim. We want to achieve a good result and do a good job for Audi.”
Arno Zensen (Team Director Audi Sport Team Rosberg): "Although we were a little short of time for preparation, in my opinion Timo (Scheider) and Frank (Stippler) both made an excellent impression during the tests. Our first target is to make the top ten with both cars in qualifying. Then we’ll wait and see what happens…”
Facts about the DTM opener at Hockenheim
Every winner since 2000
2005 Pole Position
DTM track record