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- Extremely narrow time gaps in DTM qualifying at Moscow
- Seven Audi RS 5 DTM cars in the top twelve
- Müller and Rockenfeller only 0.095 seconds short of pole position
Moscow, RUSSIA – The champion and a rookie will be sharing the second row for Audi in round five of the DTM at Moscow Raceway in Russia on Sunday – and with the same time set in qualifying.
Following the successful Russian debut last year, which ended in Mike Rockenfeller in the Schaeffler Audi RS 5 DTM taking victory, the DTM is using the long, near-four-kilometer track configuration of the circuit near Moscow for the first time this season. Still, in the end, just thousandths of a second again decided the battle for the best grid positions for a DTM race.
With seven of the eight RS 5 DTM cars in the top twelve, Audi is well-positioned for the race on Sunday. Youngster Nico Müller (Audi Sport Team Rosberg) and young father Mike Rockenfeller (Audi Sport Team Phoenix) are spearheading the squad. The two Audi drivers were only 0.095 seconds short of clinching the pole position.
The Swiss Nico Müller, who is only 22 years old, had already attracted attention by setting the fastest time in free practice at Moscow Raceway on Saturday. With grid position three and the best qualifying result in his still young career the DTM rookie in the Audi Financial Services Audi RS 5 DTM showed his so far strongest performance in the DTM.
“Obviously, I’m happy,” said the Swiss. “We already managed to start the day well in the first free practice session. In the second one, we made another step forwards. It’s a good feeling to put this on track in qualifying and to be among the top three drivers at the press conference. The lap in Q3 wasn’t completely perfect; naturally you always aim to squeeze out the maximum. From that perspective, a big ‘thank you’ from me to the whole team because the car would probably have been good for pole today.”
Title defender Mike Rockenfeller set exactly the same time as his brand colleague down to a thousandths of a second, albeit 15 seconds after Müller. That’s why ‘Rocky’ will be starting the race on Sunday from position four. The reigning champion was the only driver to have two sets of fresh Hankook tires available in Q3 because in Q1 he only needed one set of tires to make it into the next session.
Two drivers from Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline – Adrien Tambay (Playboy Audi RS 5 DTM) in position five and Miguel Molina (Audi Sport Audi RS 5 DTM) in eighth place – managed the leap into the top eight as well. Jamie Green in the Hoffmann Group Audi RS 5 DTM in ninth place missed this by only 13 thousandths of a second.
Mattias Ekström (Red Bull Audi RS 5 DTM) and Edoardo Mortara (Audi Sport Audi RS 5 DTM) are sharing the sixth row. Timo Scheider in the AUTO TEST Audi RS 5 DTM will start from position 17.
“Not only the FIFA World Cup final will be a thriller tomorrow, but so will the DTM race,” said Dieter Gass, Head of DTM at Audi Sport. “Although we’re racing on the long track configuration at Moscow this year, the time gaps are extremely narrow. Nico (Müller) and Mike (Rockenfeller) were short just 0.095 seconds of the pole position. With seven Audi cars in the top twelve we’re in a good overall position for the race. Our youngest driver was really strong today: Nico Müller is showing why we got him to join Audi in the DTM.”
The DTM race at Moscow Raceway will start on Sunday at 15.30 local time (13.30 CEST). ARD will start live coverage from Russia on ‘Das Erste’ at 13.15.
Audi drivers bet on Germany winning World Cup
The final match of the FIFA World Cup in Brazil is a topic at the DTM at Moscow as well. The Audi squad will be watching it at a lounge above the pits on Sunday night. Except for Miguel Molina and Edoardo Mortara, all Audi drivers are betting on a clear victory of the German national team over Argentina. Here’s how the Audi squad expects the match to end:
Mattias Ekström: 6-1
Jamie Green: 2-0
Miguel Molina: 0-0 (Argentina wins on penalties)
Edoardo Mortara: 0:0 (Argentina wins on penalties)
Nico Müller: 3-1
Mike Rockenfeller: 3-1
Timo Scheider: 2-0
Adrien Tambay: 2-0
Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): 2-0
Dieter Gass (Head of DTM): 2-1
Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): “If the race turns out as exciting as the qualifying session the Russian spectators can look forward to a real DTM thriller. The gaps today were truly minimal. We’re typically stronger in the race than in qualifying, that’s why I’m pretty confident that we’ll be able to repeat our victory from last year.”
Dieter Gass (Head of DTM): “It was extremely close here today. I wouldn’t have expected this on such a long track. But it again shows how balanced the DTM field is. We’ve got the fastest four cars within a tenth of a second. Unfortunately, not the ‘right’ car is in front, but one from the ‘wrong’ brand. But the race is tomorrow and we’re third, fourth and fifth – so we’re in a good position. We’re going to attack because we’re aiming to win our first race here this season.”
Nico Müller (Audi Financial Services RS 5 DTM), grid position 3
“Obviously, I’m happy. We already managed to start the day well in the first free practice session. In the second one, we made another step forwards. It’s a good feeling to put this on track in qualifying and to be among the top three at the press conference for the first time. The lap in Q3 wasn’t completely perfect; naturally you always aim to squeeze out the maximum. From that perspective, a big ‘thank you’ from me to the whole team because the car would probably have been good for pole today.”
Mike Rockenfeller (Schaeffler Audi RS 5 DTM), grid position 4
“It wasn’t a perfect qualifying day, but a very good one. We had good laps on each outing, so it was a performance of the kind we expect. That’s exactly what we didn’t manage in the past races. That’s why I’m pleased. It’s tough in the DTM. Today again showed how tight the situation is. Pole would have been possible with a mega lap, but grid position four is good too. Now we’ve got to make sure that we’ll have a good race pace and then perhaps advance some more.”
Adrien Tambay (Playboy Audi RS 5 DTM), grid position 5
“Grid position five is excellent. We had a difficult morning. I was struggling with the car. For the first time, I wasn’t completely happy. We made a lot of changes and then had a great qualifying session. I came close to my team-mates who had been seven tenths of a second faster than I in the morning. Now I’m hoping for a great race.”
Miguel Molina (Audi Sport Audi RS 5 DTM), grid position 8
“That was a bit of ‘ups and downs’ in qualifying. In the beginning, we were hunting for the pace a bit and in Q2 we had it and delivered a really good lap. In Q3, the tires weren’t optimal for the first lap. On the second flying lap, the time was okay but on the first one even more would have been possible on perfect tires.”
Jamie Green (Hoffmann Group Audi RS 5 DTM), grid position 9
“As always, the times were extremely close. Looking at my ninth place, I was a tenth of a second slower than Nico (Müller) in Q3 in position three. I missed Q3 by only 13 thousandths of a second. That was a bit frustrating, but the potential was there. Unfortunately, one of our laps was cancelled due to an infraction of the track limit in turn 1. That interfered with my rhythm and, due to the long lap, cost a lot of time.”
Mattias Ekström (Red Bull Audi RS 5 DTM), grid position 11
“Grid position eleven – nothing to be proud of. So tomorrow will be another day of hard work.”
Edoardo Mortara (Audi Sport Audi RS 5 DTM), grid position 12
“This wasn’t our best qualifying. But we already showed that we can be strong in the race. We’re hoping for things to go as well as they did in the past four races.”
Timo Scheider (AUTO TEST Audi RS 5 DTM), grid position 17
“After we changed the set-up for qualifying once more I was very positive on the first outing. But I either wanted too little or too much – in any case, it didn’t fit. The car was good but I didn’t manage to put the potential on track. Obviously, that’s disappointing but tomorrow I’m going to give my all for a good showing.”
Hans-Jürgen Abt (Team Director Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline): “It was a close qualifying. The track improved a lot towards the end. Now we’re hoping for a good race.”
Ernst Moser (Team Director Audi Sport Team Phoenix): “We were consistently running well here in the free practice sessions as well as in qualifying. Although we were lacking the last tenth in the end, we’re very pleased. The race speed is good and we can achieve a lot from the second row as well. We made some changes to Timo’s (Scheider) car for qualifying, which clearly made it better. But you’ve got to get all the sections together and he didn’t manage that. Now we’ve got to look at why that was the case. We made a huge step with the car and that’s why I’m also confident for him in the race.”
Arno Zensen (Team Director Audi Sport Team Rosberg): “It was a superb qualifying session for us with third place for Nico (Müller) and Mike (Rockenfeller) in fourth place after both set the same time. I’m a bit disappointed with ninth place for Jamie (Green). He didn’t handle turn one properly once. But even from ninth place a lot is still possible in the race. I’m pleased.”