Strong DTM opener for Audi & quotes after the race

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  • Three Audi RS 5 DTM cars in top four at Hockenheim
  • Mattias Ekström and Adrien Tambay on podium
  • Dieter Gass: “We can build on this result”

Ingolstadt/Hockenheim – In front of 75,000 spectators (throughout the weekend) Audi left a strong impression at the 2014 DTM season opener. Three Audi drivers – Mattias Ekström, Adrien Tambay and Mike Rockenfeller – finished in the top four at the Hockenheimring.

Seasoned campaigner Mattias Ekström in the Red Bull Audi RS 5 DTM of Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline started his 14th DTM season for Audi as the runner-up. The Swede began the race on the harder standard tires, was running in eighth place in the initial stage and after switching to the faster option tires battled his way forwards position by position.

Five laps before the end of the race, Ekström also overtook his team-mate Adrien Tambay in the Playboy Audi RS 5 DTM, who was initially running at the front of the field but on lap three had to let the subsequent winner Marco Wittmann in the BMW pass him. Due to a time penalty imposed for leaving the track in turn one the young Frenchman lost touch with Wittmann.

Mike Rockenfeller in the Schaeffler Audi RS5 DTM of Audi Sport Team Phoenix drove an impressive race as well. The title defender advanced from position ten on the grid to fourth place on the same strategy as Ekström and, as a result, achieved a much better start of the new DTM season than in his championship-winning year of 2013.

In contrast, the race ended in frustration for his team-mate Timo Scheider, who had started on the softer option tires and was running in third place when he was turned around by DTM rookie António Félix da Costa in the BMW on lap 34 under yellow flags. This incident, too, caused Scheider to subsequently lose a total of six positions – the last three following a tussle with Augusto Farfus on the final lap.

Edoardo Mortara suffered major misfortune as well. The Italian in his first race with Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline was running in front of his team-mate Mattias Ekström until lap 31 when he was forced to park his Audi Sport Audi RS 5 DTM with a front left puncture. “That was a real shame,” said the Swede. “This would have turned into a very cool fight at the end. I can live well with second place today, even though all of us are here to battle for victories.”

Miguel Molina advanced from position 13 after having been relegated from the sixth to the last position on the grid following the qualifying session due to a part that was missing on his Audi Sport Audi RS 5 DTM.

Nico Müller in the Audi Financial Services Audi RS 5 DTM of Audi Sport Team Rosberg experienced a turbulent DTM debut. After the start, the young Swiss dropped to the end of the field. Even though the Drag Reduction System (DRS) of his car did not function at a later stage of the race he finished in 16th place.

His team-mate Jamie Green had to park his Hoffmann Group Audi RS 5 DTM in the pits after only two laps because the mount of his front splitter was damaged in a collision with the BMW of Augusto Farfus.

“It was a good race for Audi,” said Dieter Gass, Head of DTM at Audi Sport. “That we managed to put three cars into the top four, particularly on different strategies, speaks for our new RS 5 DTM. Victory would have been possible too but Marco Wittmann was extremely strong this weekend – congratulations to him but, above all, to our guys: we’re all looking back on some tough weeks. We can build on this result and are now looking forward to Oschersleben.”

The second race of the 2014 DTM will be held in only two weeks from now (Sunday, May 18).

Quotes after the race at Hockenheim

Ingolstadt/Hockenheim – Positions two, three and four: At the Hockenheim season opener, three Audi drivers finished in the top four. Quotes from the Audi camp after the race.

Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): “The people at Audi Sport and in our teams worked extremely hard in the past weeks. That’s why a result like today’s is good for everybody. Audi is always committed to battling for victories – and that’s what we’re able to do with the new RS 5 DTM. We’ve got a good base and, fortunately, suffered no major damage here at Hockenheim so that the whole DTM squad can now enjoy the successful season opener and calmly prepare for Oschersleben.”

Dieter Gass (Head of DTM): “Basically, we’re happy. The most important thing was to show that the Audi RS 5 DTM is powerful and has the potential to be in contention for race victories. I think we proved this. Having clinched positions two, three and four, we’ve got two drivers on podium. The result could even have turned out much better because Timo (Scheider) definitely belongs there at the front, and so does Edoardo (Mortara), who unfortunately suffered a puncture. This gives us a certain amount of self-confidence that we’ll be taking with us into the next races.”

Mattias Ekström (Red Bull Audi RS 5 DTM), 2nd place
Tires: standard/option

“Finishing the race and then mounting the podium to top it off is obviously a successful start of the season. Before the next race we’ve still got a bit of work to do though in order to make the car even faster because we could tell that the BMW in particular were running really well too. But all in all, I’m very pleased.”

Adrien Tambay (Playboy Audi RS 5 DTM), 3rd place
Tires: option/standard

“A very good weekend: the first pole position and the second podium in my DTM career. Starting the season like this is a nice reward for the guys who had a lot of work to do in the winter and often toiled away late into the night. The season could hardly have started any better.”

Mike Rockenfeller (Schaeffler Audi RS 5 DTM), 4th place
Tires: standard/option

“The race was really exciting because nobody knew what to expect. Tenth place wasn’t an optimal starting base. Finishing in fourth place, I think, was the maximum that could be achieved from that grid position. These are important points for the overall classification. I’d like to thank my team – it wasn’t easy for any of us. We were pretty tense before the race. Now we know where we stand and can travel to Oschersleben with a good feeling.”

Timo Scheider (AUTO TEST Audi RS 5 DTM), 9th place
Tires: option/standard

“On the option tires, everything was going according to plan in the beginning. We didn’t know what to expect but our prediction that it would be going well was right. The pit stop went well too. I had a realistic chance for a podium place. Unfortunately, António Félix da Costa hit my car in the hairpin turn during a yellow period, which easily cost me ten seconds. At the end, I had to defend myself against three BMW on option tires and that didn’t work out so well. As a result, I lost a few more positions.”

Miguel Molina (Audi Sport Audi RS 5 DTM), 13th place
Tires: standard/option

“My race was positive in one respect. We overtook ten cars and my Audi was fast. Unfortunately, we started from the very rear of the grid. The race was tough. Yesterday, in qualifying, we showed that we’re quick. Unfortunately, the dummy camera wasn’t installed and that destroyed our race. But I’m optimistic for the next races.”

Nico Müller (Audi Financial Services RS 5 DTM), 16th place
Tires: standard/option

“The race was chaotic for me in the beginning. Something went wrong at the start. When I engaged second gear the engine speed massively dropped. After I depressed the clutch it was suddenly okay again. Of course it’s difficult once you’ve ended it up at the rear of the field. I battled and managed to make up some ground again. Unfortunately, my DRS didn’t work anymore after my pit stop. But in spite of this I managed a couple of good maneuvers. That was fun. To sum it up: I’m taking a lot of positive things with me from this race, I learned a lot but the end result has room for improvement.”

Edoardo Mortara (Audi Sport Audi RS 5 DTM), retirement
Tires: standard/option

“A big disappointment because we could have finished on the podium today. We were fast in the race, both on option and standard tires. Unfortunately, we then had the problem with the left front tire. Now we’re going to work even harder for Oschersleben.”

Jamie Green (Hoffmann Group Audi RS 5 DTM), retirement
Tires: option

“The whole weekend didn’t go particularly well for me. In free practice, we didn’t manage to work out an optimal set-up, in qualifying the car was okay but I got off track and was relatively far at the back of the grid. And when you start from a position at the rear it’s not easy. On the first half lap, I recovered a few places but then Augusto Farfus closed the door when I was in the process of overtaking him. My car was so heavily damaged afterwards that I wasn’t able to continue to drive.”

Hans-Jürgen Abt (Team Director Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline): “That was a very good start of the season. We can really be pleased with positions two and three. Obviously, we’d have liked to win but in the end it was important to see that our cars are running well. And they did. The team did a superb job, all pit stops worked perfectly.”

Ernst Moser (Team Director Audi Sport Team Phoenix): “I’m pleased. Our intention was to advance as much as possible from grid positions nine and ten, and we managed to do that. If Timo (Scheider) had not been unfortunate due to collisions that were not his fault he’d have had the possibility to finish on the podium. We used a fifty-fifty strategy and that worked out too. We did everything right, the cars are fast, the drivers are good, and the team performed good stops.”

Arno Zensen (Teamchef Audi Sport Team Rosberg): “Congratulations to (Mattias) Ekström, (Adrien) Tambay and (Mike) Rockenfeller on a great race. We were unfortunate though. Nico (Müller) had a problem at the start. He drove off in a normal way and in second gear there was suddenly some black smoke. We’ve got to investigate this. It doesn’t seem to have been his fault, he subsequently drove a good race. For Jamie (Green) the race took an unfortunate course. Following a good start, he was already in ninth place in turn one. Then Augusto Farfus failed to notice him, the two cars collided and Jamie was forced to retire from the race with a defect. We’re looking ahead to Oschersleben.”

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