“Following a long winter and this final pre-season test, I can hardly wait for the season to finally start,” said Dieter Gass, Head of DTM at Audi Sport, at a DTM press conference held on the occasion of the pre-season tests at Hockenheim. “Last winter, we again did a lot of detailed work on our Audi RS 5 DTM. That was mainly hard and meticulous work in the set-up area, as that’s all that the regulations permit at the moment. The test went well. But we’re only going to see in qualifying for the first race at Hockenheim how good a job our competitors did. It’s going to be a real thriller because in the DTM everything is done to have a balanced field and to deliver spectacturlar races to the fans.”
At the only official DTM pre-season tests, all eight Audi drivers tested on at least two days. In addition to seven race cars fielded by Audi Sport Teams Abt Sportsline, Phoenix and Rosberg, Audi Sport deployed two test vehicles of the Audi RS5 DTM fitted with additional sensors – to test Hankook tires for the 2017 season, among other things.
Audi set two best marks. The absolutely fastest lap during the test (1m 32.964s) was achieved by the two-time DTM Champion Mattias Ekström on Thursday during the tire test for 2017. In regular testing operations for the 2016 season, Mike Rockenfeller, the 2013 DTM Champion, was the front runner, setting the best time of 1m 33.197s in the Schaeffler Audi RS 5 DTM of Audi Sport Team Phoenix on Friday morning.
However, as usual in a DTM test, Audi Sport was not mainly focused on absolute lap times. In addition, the weather varied on all four test days. Only on Wednesday and Friday, the sun was shining throughout. In contrast, the drivers testing on Tuesday and Thursday were struggling with rain and a slippery track some of the time. Temperatures heavily varied from day to day as well.
Much more important than the lap times is the positive feedback our drivers provided,” says Dieter Gass. “That shows that our work in winter was headed in the right direction. And, obviously, having had four days nearly without any major incidents and completing a total of 8,700 test kilometers is positive. This is going to help us in our further preparation before the season opener.”
Tickets for the DTM races are available online at www.audi-motorsport.com. The season opener at Hockenheim on the second weekend in May will include the Audi Sport TT Cup and the FIA World Rallycross Championship.