Ingolstadt/Klettwitz – In the 100th year of its existence, another anniversary is coming up for the Audi brand: After Tom Kristensen’s triumph at the Hockenheim season opener, Audi is aiming to clinch its 50th victory in the DTM – in which case the brand with the four rings would pass BMW on the perpetual list of the best contenders in the most popular international touring car series.
The first opportunity to achieve this ranking will present itself to the squad around Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich on May 31 at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz. Up to now, however, the circuit located 130 kilometers south of Berlin has not exactly been the Audi A4 DTM’s favorite track. Audi clinched victory only once at the EuroSpeedway on its own power: In September 2005, Mattias Ekström prevailed against Mercedes driver Gary Paffett in an impressive duel.
Nevertheless, the names of Audi and Ekström appear on the winners’ list of DTM races at the EuroSpeedway a second time: In 2004, the Swede inherited victory because Gary Paffett ran out of fuel after crossing the finish line and the tank of his Mercedes did not contain the residual amount of gasoline prescribed by the regulations.
After the one-two-three-four victory at the Hockenheimring, Audi comes to East Germany with a handicap: The rules require the Audi A4 DTM to start from the EuroSpeedway grid with ten kilograms more weight than the Mercedes cars. This means that part of the “Vorsprung durch Technik” advantage which Audi Sport achieved during the further development of the Audi A4 DTM in winter will be lost. At Hockenheim, the “R14 plus,” which is the internal model designation of the 2009 A4 DTM version, was clearly superior to the current Mercedes C-Class.
The Audi drivers clinched a total of 31 out of 39 possible points at the season opener – an impressive tally in which the drivers of the 2008-spec cars had a part as well. The Briton Oliver Jarvis achieved his first podium result in the DTM, the German Markus Winkelhock, in fourth place, the best result of his DTM career.
Audi could have scored even more points if Mattias Ekström had not lost the victory that already seemed to be sure due to a puncture on the penultimate lap. The Swede will do everything within his power to recover lost ground and has good chances to do so: The two-time DTM Champion has been on the podium six times so far at the EuroSpeedway – more than any other current DTM driver.
Tom Kristensen, who has fond memories of the EuroSpeedway as well, comes to the venue as the front runner of the standings: The Dane, who started his last DTM season with victory at Hockenheim, achieved as many as three podium finishes at the EuroSpeedway.
Like at Hockenheim, qualifying will predetermine the outcome of the race to some extent. At the request of the TV channel, the session will only start at 2:35 pm (local time), one hour later than usual. The race will be broadcast live on “Das Erste” on Sunday at 1:45 pm as usual. I want to thank Audi Sport for this great article and keeping us updated, of course I will finish it off with a video.