In the first wet race the DTM has seen in two years Audi racer Timo Scheider drove the “race of his life:” at the Adria International Raceway the two-time DTM Champion from Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline triumphed after having started from position 15 – the last driver to have achieved this feat in the DTM had been the former Formula 1 World Champion Mika Häkkinen, at Mugello in 2007.
But in addition to the commanding first victory of the season clinched by the two-time DTM Champion, Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich had another reason to be happy about at Adria: according to initial medical checks at the hospital Alexandre Prémat (Audi Sport Team Phoenix) sustained no injuries in a spectacular roll-over after body contact on the start-finish straight. “We can be proud of the safety of the DTM cars which has always been of paramount importance to us when designing the regulations,” said Dr. Ullrich. “Safety will again be the number-one priority for the next generation of the DTM cars. I hope that further medical checks will confirm that Alex has suffered no injuries.”
Not only the passive safety of the Audi A4 DTM impressed at what was arguably the most thrilling DTM race of the year but so did its performance. On the extremely slippery track the Audi drivers had a clear advantage over their rivals. At times Timo Scheider was more than one second faster per lap than the Mercedes drivers Bruno Spengler and Gary Paffett who had been leading the race in the beginning. As early as on lap one he pushed forward from 15th to seventh place. Because he was able to drive consistently fast lap times even on used rain tyres Scheider came in for his two mandatory pit stops only just before the race ended and returned to the track with an advantage of over seven seconds. “Driving from P15 to P1 is incredible,” beamed Scheider. “I was able to advance superbly on the first laps. After that, the guys did a perfect job. The key today was that I was able to drive for an extremely long time on used tyres. This morning I was joking that I’d be driving the race of my life today – and that’s exactly what happened.”
Mattias Ekström could have finished on the very top of the podium at Adria too. The Swede had just pushed forward past Jamie Green to third place and was quickly catching up to Bruno Spengler and Gary Paffett when a cotter pin of the gearshift lever came lose. The half minute which Ekström lost during his early first pit stop threw him back to the end of the field. Nevertheless the Swede managed a recovery into the points and overtook the previous leader of the standings, Paul Di Resta.
In total, five Audi A4 DTM cars finished in the points at Adria. Markus Winkelhock made a strong showing at the wheel of the best 2008-specification vehicle in fourth place, putting an end to his streak of misfortune and clinching the first points of the year for Audi Sport Team Rosberg. Oliver Jarvis, Martin Tomczyk and Mattias Ekström occupied positions five, six and eight.
“We repeatedly saw strong team performances at the last few races already,” said Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “Today we finally managed to return to victory lane as well. We worked hard to achieve this. But sometimes it is more difficult to return to victory lane than to stay in it. Now we’ve done it – thanks to a good performance, a good strategy and perfect teamwork.”
Another driver who could have scored points at Adria was Miguel Molina. However, the best rookie in the 2010 DTM was hit on the left rear wheel by Paul Di Resta at the end of the start-finish straight. The rear suspension broke in the incident. Afterwards Molina was just a passenger in his Audi A4 DTM and crashed into the rear of Di Resta’s Mercedes.
Mike Rockenfeller had body contact with the Scotsman as well: while trying to defend himself against an attack by Oliver Jarvis on the starting lap the Le Mans winner unfortunately hit the rear of the Mercedes. After the race was re-started Rockenfeller started in 17th place and ultimately finished the round on his 27th birthday in eleventh place. Katherine Legge finished the race in 16th place.