Ingolstadt/Hockenheim, October 17, 2010
In front of an impressive turnout of 140,000 spectators (throughout the weekend) Audi put two drivers on the podium at the German finale of the DTM. Timo Scheider achieved his best result of the season with a second-place finish. Mike Rockenfeller in his 40th DTM race managed a podium result for the second time in his career.
After starting from the pole position Timo Scheider was leading the race for a long time. Only in the final phase he lost the remote duel against Paul Di Resta, who was using a different strategy and returned to the track in front of Scheider after a late second pit stop. As Di Resta was running on the fresher tyres Scheider was no longer able to counter and was instructed by Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline to save the tyres and secure second place.
“Obviously I would have liked to win the German finale here in front of our home crowd of fans for Audi,” said Scheider. “But we didn’t quite make it. Paul (Di Resta) was very quick, so we had to change our strategy and be a bit more aggressive. Unfortunately, that wasn’t completely sufficient. Still, being the best Audi driver again is a nice feeling.”
Mike Rockenfeller, who was by far the strongest driver of a 2008-specification car at Hockenheim and with a third-place finish clinched the first podium result of the season for Audi Sport Team Phoenix, was highly pleased. The Le Mans winner last mounted the podium in the DTM in 2007 at Oschersleben.
On the first few laps “Rocky” held up to the pressure by Gary Paffett who had won the past two Hockenheim races. After his first pit stop the German managed to gradually put a distance between himself and the former DTM Champion and to build up a cushion of more than five seconds. “My car was really good during the whole weekend,” raved Rockenfeller. “In the race it was running perfectly, particularly on fresh tyres. Only toward the middle of my stints I had a little bit of oversteer.”
Martin Tomczyk and Oliver Jarvis went on a chase after Gary Paffett on the final laps but did not manage to bump the Briton from fourth place any more. “After my first attack my tyres picked up some rubber off the track,” reported Tomczyk, who occupied fifth place just barely in front of Jarvis.
After a mass collision on lap one, just half of the 18 cars that had started from the grid finished the German finale. For Markus Winkelhock and Katherine Legge (both from Audi Sport Team Rosberg) the race on the new short circuit layout was over at the end of the “Parabolika” as quickly as it was for Miguel Molina, the best rookie in the 2010 DTM.
Mattias Ekström was entangled in the mass collision as well. At first the Swede was able to continue to drive his damaged A4 DTM but after two unscheduled pit stops had to retire on lap eight due to a broken right rear suspension. Before the race at Hockenheim Ekström had been the last Audi driver to still have chances of winning the DTM title.
“That ‘Eki’ was struck right on the first lap was of course really unfortunate for us and the fans,” said Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “Consequently, the title will go to a Mercedes driver for the first time since 2006. Congratulations to Stuttgart! The level in the DTM is extremely high, that’s why this defeat after three triumphs is not an embarrassment for us but motivates us to regain our old strength in 2011 and bring the title back to Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm – which we also managed to do this year at the Le Mans 24 Hours. If you want to win the DTM, everything has got to fit perfectly. This year that simply wasn’t the case with us – today included.”
This was true for Alexandre Prémat as well, who had been running in the points before being brushed by Jamie Green in the pit lane. The right front suspension broke in the incident.
Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport)
“With two cars on the front row you obviously hope for victory. We put two guys on the podium. No doubt that’s not a bad result. But Paul Di Resta was a little quicker and able to decide the race in his favour. As a team, we were strong again this weekend. We keep pursuing our aim of working hard so that we can use the next race for a victory.”
Timo Scheider (GW:plus/Top Service Audi A4 DTM #1), 2nd place
“On the first few metres everything went according to plan. The start was good. The fact that I had a small gap was pretty good. Mike (Rockenfeller) kept Gary (Paffett) busy. As far as turn three goes: I figured that if anything could go wrong on the starting lap, that’s where it would be. And then something did happen. Thank God there was a lot of room behind me so that nothing happened to me. I was able to drive away a bit, but then the safety car period started right away. After the restart I created another gap to Mike. After that I was running at the pace that was possible for us today. At that time Paul (Di Resta) was beginning to indirectly put us under pressure, so we had to choose a relatively aggressive strategy so that we’d at least still have a chance after the first stop. Even after the second stop we almost made it, but unfortunately we were short of half a car length. I’d have tremendously enjoyed going into battle with him. On my used tyres I’d have more than likely had a hard time against him. But as a candidate for the champion’s title he probably wouldn’t have taken a really big risk.”
Mike Rockenfeller (S line Audi A4 DTM #10), 3rd place
“I’m happy with my performance this weekend. Needless to say I’d have also liked to have won the start from position two on the grid. But I didn’t manage to do this. From then on it was clear that I had to defend myself at the rear, against Gary (Paffett). I managed to do that well. Then I was even able to build up a little bit of a distance. I didn’t see Paul (Di Resta) at any time during the race. When he came out in front of Timo (Scheider) after his second stop I knew that third place would be the maximum. I then concentrated on securing this position. I’m pleased. The team performed two great stops. It’s been a good day for us.”
Martin Tomczyk (Red Bull Cola Audi A4 DTM #6), 5th place
“In the beginning the race was turbulent. My start was good. After the safety car period I had serious problems with the tyres and wasn’t able to keep the pace. After the first pit stop things were going really well, and even better after the second one. I caught Paffett and attacked him. I almost got past him. Then Oliver Jarvis came up from behind and got involved, which is basically okay too. But, unfortunately, neither of us profited from the situation as a result of this.”
Oliver Jarvis (Tabac Original Audi A4 DTM #2), 6th place
“My start was really bad. I took the second turn from the outside. That way I gained one or two positions again. After that I went around the chaos on lap one. Later, I was running fast – faster than Martin (Tomczyk). I overtook him at the pit stop but then he was quicker again on his next set of tyres and passed me. In the end there was a big battle between Martin, Gary and me. This was a race I truly enjoyed!”
Alexandre Prémat (TV Movie Audi A4 DTM #9), retirement (suspension)
“I started in fourth place and then Paul Di Resta heavily attacked me. We were driving door to door. His manoeuvre was aggressive, afterwards I was fifth. The pace in our group was good. Unfortunately, my first pit stop took longer than usual. When I drove off and was in the left lane, Jamie Green came out of his place in the pits. He touched my right front wheel, which then started losing air. The suspension was probably damaged too. I slid into the gravel and my race was over. That’s really a shame because today we could have scored a lot of points.”
Mattias Ekström (Red Bull Audi A4 DTM #5), retirement (suspension)
“If you start from the rear you almost expect a hairy situation. But that even happened at times when I started farther from the front. Discipline at the rear of the field is not as good as it is farther toward the front. But the main factor was the poor performance in qualifying. Of course it’s disappointing to retire all of a sudden on lap one. But I’m already looking forward to the next race.”
Markus Winkelhock (Playboy/GW:plus Audi A4 DTM #14), retirement (accident)
“My start was good because I got off better than (Alex) Prémat and (Paul) Di Resta. Unfortunately, there was no room for me anywhere, so I had to lift again. At least I was able to defend my position despite of that. At the entrance to turn 3 I was running on the outside, wanted to turn in and felt a huge impact on the side. That meant another one of my races was over.”
Miguel Molina (Audi Bank A4 DTM #18), retirement (accident)
“My start was good, albeit conservative, but I still gained one position. I braked too late into turn three and was hit – I think it was (Bruno) Spengler. I braked late but apparently he didn’t brake at all. That meant the end of my race. I’m unhappy, but that’s part of this racing discipline too. We’ve got to focus on the positive aspects.”
Katherine Legge (Glamour Audi A4 DTM #15), retirement (accident)
“My start was okay even though the wheels were spinning. But that made no difference after all because just three turns later there was a big crash party. That ended my race – unfortunately, I’ve got nothing else to report today.”
Hans-Jürgen Abt (Team Director Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline)
“Obviously, it’s a bit disappointing not to win after having started from the pole position. Timo (Scheider) drove really well and didn’t make any mistakes. You’ve simply got to accept that Paul (Di Resta) was driving in a different league today. Our team made no mistakes but we weren’t quick enough with our car. We need to continue to work on this. We need to become quicker.”
Ernst Moser (Team Director Audi Sport Team Phoenix)
“I’m extremely happy with Mike Rockenfeller’s podium place. Our pace was very good. It’s too bad we couldn’t keep Paul Di Resta at bay despite this. All the other drivers who were running behind us at first stayed there as well. It’s a shame that we lost our second car. Alex (Prémat) was running well. Our strategies were clear. Unfortunately, a wheel nut got lost during the pit stop, which cost us some time. On leaving the pits (Jamie) Green failed to do what he should have done – respect the right of way. This resulted in a puncture and a suspension problem. It’s a shame because today a place in the top five would have been possible.”
Arno Zensen (Team Director Audi Sport Team Rosberg)
“Markus’s (Winkelhock) grid position was a promising one and his start was good too. He was already running in fifth place, albeit for just a short time. If he had been just a bit farther toward the rear, maybe he would have gotten around the accident. But this way, it was all over right in the beginning. Katherine’s (Legge) race was over as early as in turn three too. I can’t remember the last time I was sitting in our hospitality lounge again so early. Now we’ve got a lot of work to do before Adria. We’ve got to do the repairs in a hurry because we’ll be leaving early in the following week. But we’re not giving up and will try and make the best possible use of the last two races.”