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DTM: Audi on Second Row of Grid at Norisring

• Two Audi A5 DTM cars in top ten at Norisring
• Mattias Ekström on grid position four after best times in Q2 and Q3
• After extreme heat, cooler weather predicted for the race

In extreme conditions, Mattias Ekström in the Red Bull Audi A5 DTM of Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline secured grid position four for the DTM race at the Norisring (Sunday starting at 13:15 – local time – live on “Das Erste”).

As expected, the fight for the pole position on the 2.3-kilometer city street circuit between the Dutzendteich Lake and the easyCredit Stadium turned into a battle for thousandths of a second. While in the last free practice session in the morning the quickest twelve cars were within just two tenths of a second the time gaps were again minimal in qualifying in the afternoon with 35 degrees in the shade and track temperatures of more than 50 degrees.

“The conditions were definitely extreme today,” said Mattias Ekström, who from the first session on was consistently the quickest Audi driver. After best times in Q2 (48.822 seconds) and Q3 (48.861 seconds) the Swede was the last driver to go out on track in the crucial shoot-out for the pole position at which the Audi racer on used tires had to settle for position four (49.369 seconds).

“When you’re the fastest driver to go into Q4 of course it’s very disappointing to only be on grid position four in the end,” commented Ekström. “Q2 and Q3 went superbly. But in Q4 I simply didn’t have any grip in the tires. At least I’m still on the second row of the grid, so from there anything’s possible. There’s a really large crowd of Audi fans here. I owe them a fantastic fight in tomorrow’s race.”

The second-best Audi driver to start into the race will be Edoardo Mortara in his Playboy Audi A5 DTM. The Italian from Audi Sport Team Rosberg, who cheered Italy’s move in to the Euro 2012 finale at the Dutzendteich Lake on Thursday night, is on grid position ten.

After the checkered flag had dropped in Q2, Mike Rockenfeller (Schaeffler Audi A5 DTM/Audi Sport Team Phoenix) was still bumped from tenth to eleventh place. Rockenfeller, who had finished the 2012 Le Mans 24 Hours in third place, was only lacking 0.004 seconds to make it into the next qualifying session. Just a tiny bit slower were Adrien Tambay (Audi ultra A5 DTM) and Filipe Albuquerque (TV Movie Audi A5 DTM) on positions twelve and 13.

For Miguel Molina (Red Bull Audi A5 DTM), Timo Scheider (AUTO TEST Audi A5 DTM) and Rahel Frey (E-POSTBRIEF Audi A5 DTM), who were eliminated as early as in Q1 and will start from positions 20, 21 and 22, qualifying was a particular disappointment.

“After we’ve been consistently showing a solid team performance so far we unfortunately didn’t manage to do that today,” said Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “Qualifying proved to be as close as expected. Mattias (Ekström) made it into Q4 and thus showed that we’re on the right track with the further development of our A5 DTM – because he was consistently fast here throughout the weekend. If you want to be at the very front at the Norisring you’ve got to put all three sectors together perfectly. In Q2 and Q3, Mattias managed to do that, in Q4 he didn’t. On the whole, of course we’re not satisfied to have only two cars in the top ten. But the race will be extremely hard and long – and tomorrow the weather conditions should be completely different. At this point, anything’s still possible.”

For race day, the forecast predicts temperatures to drop by around ten degrees compared to the two practice days, plus rain showers. The race covers 83 laps (190.900 kilometers) – a record distance for the DTM at the Norisring. ARD will broadcast live from Nuremberg starting at 13:15, local time. Due to the European Track & Field Championships in Helsinki the race will already start at 13:30.

Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport)
“On the whole, it was a disappointing qualifying session for us. If you want to take something positive from this, then it’s the fact that Mattias (Ekström) drove the fastest lap in qualifying. At the Norisring, everything has got to fit together perfectly – and today we didn’t achieve this in the form of the solid team performance we’ve been showing lately. But if we manage to draw on our full strength in the race again, then we’ll certainly have our say in the action at the front of the field.”Mattias Ekström (Red Bull Audi A5 DTM), grid position 4
“The second row is okay – but that’s all. I must admit that I’m a bit disappointed because my intention was to battle for pole. Our car was good for that but in all fairness I’ve got to say that the competition was quicker at the crucial moment. Congratulations on that. But points are only awarded in the race. The large crowd of Audi fans at the track deserves the full commitment of our squad. Nothing’s lost yet but of course everything’s a lot more difficult from position four than from pole.

Edoardo Mortara (Playboy Audi A5 DTM), grid position 10
“Qualifying was very difficult. I tried everything but more than this was not possible.

Mike Rockenfeller (Schaeffler Audi A5 DTM), grid position 11
“As expected, it was very tight. We improved the car some more for qualifying. It was a shame not to be part of Q3. Now we’ve got to fight and drive a good race. I’m hoping that in that case we’ve got some chances.”

Adrien Tambay (Audi ultra A5 DTM), grid position 12
“Qualifying was close – as usual. We very barely missed Q3. That’s a shame because it would have been nice to reach Q3 for the third time. But grid position twelve is okay. From there I’ll be able to fight for points in the race.”

Filipe Albuquerque (TV Movie Audi A5 DTM), grid position 13
“Qualifying was difficult for everyone. We were only lacking a couple of hundredths for Q3. 13th place isn’t fantastic and wasn’t my goal either. It’ll be hard in the race but I’ll be fighting for points.”

Miguel Molina (Red Bull Audi A5 DTM), grid position 20
“Qualifying wasn’t good. I’m on grid position 20. My car wasn’t fast. We had changed the set-up for qualifying and that didn’t work out. We’re expecting a tough race. We need to wait how the weather and the heat will develop and how our tires will work.”

Timo Scheider (AUTO TEST Audi A5 DTM), grid position 21
“We’re in for a long night today in order to carefully analyze what went wrong in qualifying. The penultimate place is a huge disappointment, there’s no doubt about it. But it’s also motivation to start a recovery for the spectators tomorrow that will take us as far to the front as possible.”

Rahel Frey (E-POSTBRIEF Audi A5 DTM), grid position 22
“After free practice I was very positive. I was hoping that we’d be able to build on that in qualifying. But it didn’t work out. There was nothing working for me in qualifying.”

Hans-Jürgen Abt (Team Director Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline)
“We can’t really be happy. But we could see how close it was. The first two qualifying sessions were very good. The shoot-out in the end didn’t really work out, so before you know it you’re on the second row. But we’re going to fight in the race.”

Ernst Moser (Team Director Audi Sport Team Phoenix)
“That was truly hard labor. From the first practice session on, we were still looking for the optimal set-up for the Norisring in order to squeeze out the final thousandth here. ‘Rocky’ (Mike Rockenfeller) was quite happy with the car in qualifying; unfortunately, he was lacking four thousandths for Q3. But we’re on a good track here and will continue to work on that up to the race. In Miguel’s (Molina) case we went into the same direction with the set-up. Unfortunately, he was having difficulties with the car and when that happens, you quickly find yourself on grid position 20 here. Now we’re going to work on bringing him farther toward the front in the race.”

Arno Zensen (Team Director Audi Sport Team Rosberg)
“Honestly speaking, I’d been expecting a bit more. I expected that on the whole we’d be closer to the front but actually Mattias Ekström was the only one who was in contention. We were too slow and Edo Mortara had brake problems. We’ve got to analyze that.”

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