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DTM: Audi on Second Row of Grid at Season Finale

Ingolstadt/Hockenheim, October 20, 2012 – Mattias Ekström (Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline) will start into the DTM finale at the Hockenheimring (from 13:45 live on “Das Erste”) from grid position four as the best Audi driver.

The Swede continued the performance he had shown at the season opener where he had clinched the pole position in his Red Bull Audi A5 DTM at the same venue. In Saturday morning’s free practice, Ekström drove the fastest time and was the best Audi driver in each of the qualifying sections. The two-time DTM Champion, however, entered the crucial shoot-out of the top four with a small disadvantage because he had driven a second timed lap in Q3. “That’s why there was no more grip in the tires in Q4,” said Ekström. “I’m pleased nonetheless because I’ve been trying to find a perfect set-up for qualifying at a few of the last races. Today, I managed to do that; the car was right on the dot.”

On the whole, the Audi drivers were not able to continue the strong results of the free practice session in the morning. Seven of the eight Audi A5 DTM cars made it into Q2 but only three ultimately managed the leap into the top ten. “After taking the top three places in free practice this morning and all drivers were very happy with their cars, the qualifying results are no doubt a bit disappointing for us,” commented Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “As is often the case in the DTM, it was incredibly close today and in the warmer conditions our drivers were complaining about lack of grip. But we’ve still got every chance of achieving our aim, which is to win the manufacturers’ championship. For this goal, we’ve primarily been working on improving our race performance lately. I’m hoping that this’ll pay off tomorrow.”

As the second-best Audi driver, Timo Scheider in the AUTO TEST Audi A5 DTM will be starting into the race from grid position eight. Edoardo Mortara in the Playboy Audi A5 DTM of Audi Sport Team Rosberg secured grid position nine.

Filipe Albuquerque (TV Movie Audi A5 DTM), in eleventh place, missed Q3 by merely 15 thousandths of a second. Mike Rockenfeller (Schaeffler Audi A5 DTM) will be starting alongside him on the sixth row as the best driver of Audi Sport Team Phoenix.

Adrien Tambay (Audi ultra A5 DTM) and Rahel Frey (E-POSTBRIEF Audi A5 DTM) will start into the race from grid positions 15 and 16. The female driver of Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline managed the leap into Q2 for the second consecutive time.

Miguel Molina (Red Bull Audi A5 DTM) lost valuable practice time in the morning due to an excursion into the gravel trap and was the only Audi driver to be eliminated in Q1. The Spaniard will start from position 20.

Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): “Qualifying was extremely close. After the good free practice sessions, I must admit that I’m disappointed that as a team we didn’t make a similarly good showing in qualifying. Mattias (Ekström) was the only driver to make it into Q4 and had the disadvantage of having driven the largest number of laps on his tires compared with the other drivers. That made it difficult for him in Q4. But we’re continuing to work on achieving our aim of winning the manufacturers’ championship.”

Mattias Ekström (Red Bull Audi A5 DTM), grid position 4
“It was a perfect weekend. We achieved everything we’d been planning for. Our set-up was perfect; it’s never been as optimal as this. I’m happy about that and want to thank my engineer, Alex (Stehlig). Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough for pole. But the others drove faster in Q4; you can only congratulate them on that.”

Timo Scheider (AUTO TEST Audi A5 DTM), grid position 8
“The first qualifying section today was already very close, so then we decided to make a one-hundred-percent change to the set-up even before the session was over. With that, unfortunately, we were off the mark and now we’re on the fourth row. After Audi’s strong showing in the free practice sessions, we’d been hoping for more. But with Mattias (Ekström), Edo (Mortara) and me in the top ten, it should be possible to grab the points for Audi that are crucial in the battle for the manufacturers’ title. That’s got to be the aim.”

Edoardo Mortara (Playboy Audi A5 DTM), grid position 9
“For us, it was very difficult. Qualifying was poor. Ninth place – we were simply too slow. It’s possible that we made a mistake with the set-up because this morning we were still looking competitive. We didn’t make use of the car’s full potential.”

Filipe Albuquerque (TV Movie Audi A5 DTM), grid position 11
“My qualifying was frustrating. Ending up on position eleven at the last qualifying session of the season and to be eliminated in Q2 is definitely bad. I missed Q3 by 15 thousandths of a second. That was really unfortunate.”

Mike Rockenfeller (Schaeffler Audi A5 DTM), grid position 12
“The last qualifying session of the season was a disappointment for me. We were good in free practice and then changed something on the car which unfortunately didn’t work out the way we’d been hoping it would. We also changed something from Q1 to Q2 which had a negative effect. We made the wrong decisions and weren’t quick enough compared with the competition. My performance was also under par in the Audi camp – that’s a double dose of disappointment.”

Adrien Tambay (Audi ultra A5 DTM), grid position 15 
“In Q2, I was pretty optimistic. Unfortunately, I made a mistake on the last lap and we missed making it into Q3 by two tenths of a second. That’s a shame because a place in the top ten would probably have been possible.”

Rahel Frey (E-POSTBRIEF Audi A5 DTM), grid position 16
“I’m happy after I’d still been struggling in free practice. Q2 was my aim and by taking 16th place I achieved it. The track has lower grip than Valencia. That quickly causes the car to understeer and and you start slipping. I’m still struggling a bit with that.”

Miguel Molina (Red Bull Audi A5 DTM), grid position 20
“It’s frustrating to be eliminated in Q1 for the first time ever in qualifying this year – especially since I was on pole here last year. We need to analyze why that happened. But we’ve still got the race tomorrow and one thing’s clear: we never give up.”

Hans-Jürgen Abt (Team Director Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline): “After the good free practice, we’d been expecting more. Mattias Ekström’s situation was unfortunate: we had to push in Q3 and drive one more lap in order to make it into the final qualifying section. With an additional lap on the tires, though, you no longer have a chance for the pole position. It’s possible that in the race on Sunday the battle between the two title candidates may play into our hands.”

Ernst Moser (Team Director Audi Sport Team Phoenix): “We had high aims for qualifying. The free practice sessions were looking good; we were always among the front runners. We’d clearly been focusing on Q4. That’s why we’re disappointed about only having taken twelfth place with Mike Rockenfeller. Before the qualifying session, we had made some changes – now we need to analyze if that was the reason. Miguel Molina’s car had more potential too. Now we’ve got to try and make the best of these grid positions.”

Arno Zensen (Team Director Audi Sport Team Rosberg): 
“With positions nine and eleven we’re not happy. Edo (Mortara) was pretty high up in the air in Q2 when he hit a curb. We’ve got to check if his car was damaged. The race is long. Let’s see what we can still achieve.”

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