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- Strong showing: four Audi RS 5 DTM cars in the top five
- First pole position since the Hockenheim season opener
- Grid position one for last year’s Champion Mike Rockenfeller
Ingolstadt/Zandvoort – This is a very rare occurrence in the DTM: With four RS 5 DTM cars in the top five, Audi managed a brilliant performance in qualifying for the DTM race at Zandvoort (the Netherlands). Particularly remarkable was Mike Rockenfeller’s showing, who clinched the pole position in the Schaeffler Audi RS 5 DTM.
A year ago, ‘Rocky’ won his first DTM title early at Zandvoort. This time, it was questionable whether the Audi driver would even be able to start at all, as the 2011 Zandvoort winner was bedridden for several days due to a gastrointestinal infection.
Not least thanks to the help from Audi Sport’s team doctors ‘Rocky’ was fit again at the right moment. In the thrilling battle for the best grid positions, he defeated BMW driver Marco Wittmann by 26 thousandths of a second. “We’ve always been strong Zandvoort,” said Rockenfeller. “We know that we’re good here and the track suits me. As always in the DTM, it was extremely close, but I prevailed today – that’s great. ‘Thank you’ to everybody at Audi and Team Phoenix, who worked on this. I’m on pole tomorrow, am set on taking the bull by the horns and winning the race. We’ve got to do our homework and see to making this work out. I need a good start for this to happen.”
For Rockenfeller and Audi Sport Team Phoenix, this marks the first pole position since Moscow in 2013 and the first one for Audi since the season opener at Hockenheim, as well as the seventh one in the DTM race at Zandvoort in the past eleven years.
Third place on the grid was secured by Edoardo Mortara in the Audi Sport Audi RS 5 DTM of Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline. The 2012 Zandvoort winner was merely 18 thousandths of a second slower than Marco Wittmann. The fourth-fastest time was achieved by his team-mate Mattias Ekström in the Red Bull Audi RS 5 DTM, who, however, due to an unintentional obstruction of a competitor, received a grid penalty, which retroactively relegated him by five places to grid position nine.
The Audi show in qualifying was completed by the two drivers of Audi Sport Team Rosberg. Jamie Green in the Hoffmann Group Audi RS 5 DTM took grid position four and Nico Müller in the Audi Financial Services Audi RS 5 DTM position five. The two team-mates are separated by eleven thousandths of a second. Müller had previously attracted attention by setting a best time in free practice.
Miguel Molina (Audi Sport Audi RS 5 DTM), Adrien Tambay (Playboy Audi RS 5 DTM) and Timo Scheider (AUTO TEST Audi RS 5 DTM) finished qualifying in positions ten, twelve and 16.
“Zandvoort is one of the most challenging tracks in the DTM. Having four of our cars in the top five here makes us very proud,” commented Dieter Gass, Head of DTM at Audi Sport. “Particularly remarkable is the performance by Mike Rockenfeller, who was sick in bed for a few days and clinched pole anyhow. The new and the old Champion will be side by side on the front row tomorrow – that’ll be a thriller.”
Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): “That we’re strong in qualifying is nothing new. It shows how fast our RS 5 DTM is. But the pole position is just half the battle. Now it’s about everybody fully concentrating on their task and doing a perfect job. Then we’ve got a chance of clinching our long overdue first season victory in the DTM and the lead in the manufacturers’ championship.”
Dieter Gass (Head of DTM): “This was a superb performance today. Four Audi cars in the top five, one on pole – and, what’s more, it’s one we didn’t necessarily expect to be there before the weekend. When Mike (Rockenfeller) arrived here he wasn’t in the best of health. But today he really made believers out of everybody, delivered a top performance and put the RS 5 DTM on the pole position. But we saw the other drivers in very, very strong form as well. We can look forward to a thrilling race tomorrow.”
Mike Rockenfeller (Schaeffler Audi RS 5 DTM), grid position 1
“It was very close today and that’ll be the case again tomorrow in the race. I believe that Marco (Wittmann) is super-fast here. Of course we’re going to try and counter that with all we’ve got. But we’re starting from the better position. I hope that’ll be the small but crucial advantage for winning the race.”
Edoardo Mortara (Audi Sport Audi RS 5 DTM), grid position 3
“It was a very good day for us. Four Audi cars in the top five and Mike (Rockenfeller) on pole. Congratulations! He did a great job in Q3. With that, we’ve got good chances for the race because our aim is to score as many points as possible for the manufacturers’, teams’ and drivers’ standings.”
Jamie Green (Hoffmann Group Audi RS 5 DTM), grid position 4
“Qualifying went really well but in Q3 of all times it wasn’t completely perfect. The speed I had in Q1 and Q2 was promising. Then, in Q3, I had a small problem with the power steering and slight vibrations – that was a bit disturbing. In the middle sector, there was a bit of oversteer. That cost time. These two issues occurred in Q3. Frustrating – but we’re obviously consistently fast.”
Nico Müller (Audi Financial Services RS 5 DTM), grid position 5
“Grid position five is okay, it’s very good actually. But it was a hairy qualifying session. In Q1, nothing was possible and I haven’t got a clue why. On the first set of tires in Q3 we weren’t quite on the mark either. If the car had felt the way it had in Q2, clearly more would have been possible. You could again see how close it is. You’re only at the very front if everything fits.”
Mattias Ekström (Red Bull Audi RS 5 DTM), grid position 9
“It was surely not my very best lap in qualifying but, still, I was happy with fourth place. I’ve got to accept the penalty for the alleged obstruction of Gary (Paffett) but it was definitely not intentional. It was close in this stage of qualifying. I was careful not to get in the way of several rivals and obviously failed to notice him.”
Miguel Molina (Audi Sport Audi RS 5 DTM), grid position 10
“Looking back on this morning, we made good progress. We improved the car for qualifying and that was positive. It was the way it always is in the DTM – very close. Sometimes fortune’s on your side and sometimes it isn’t. The gap for making it into Q3 was very small.”
Adrien Tambay (Playboy Audi RS 5 DTM), grid position 12
“Not exactly one of my best qualifying sessions. I tried everything and the lap wasn’t too bad either. But we simply weren’t fast enough. Now we’ve got to find out where we can still gain some more time and strike back tomorrow.”
Timo Scheider (AUTO TEST Audi RS 5 DTM), grid position 16
“I was incredibly excited about traveling to Zandvoort because this track has always suited me. In the past, it was possible to compensate for a less than perfect set-up here. But today, ever since the free practice session, we’ve been trailing our internal competitors, as well as the competition on the whole, by a big margin. It’s a shame especially because we’ve got no answer yet. Congratulations to Mike (Rockenfeller) on taking the pole position. That’s a great energy boost for the whole squad. But I’m disappointed.”
Hans-Jürgen Abt (Team Director Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline): “It was a very tight situation. The front cars were very close. We can be pleased with positions three and four. But the main focus is on the solid team result for Audi because we’re battling for the manufacturers’ championship. The grid positions give us good prerequisites for the race.”
Ernst Moser (Team Director Audi Sport Team Phoenix): “We finally managed to be at the very front on Saturday. The long-awaited pole position! ‘Rocky’ (Mike Rockenfeller) kept us in suspense for a long time, but wrapped it all up on the most important lap. Congratulations to him and the whole squad now that we’re finally starting from the very front again. Timo (Scheider) was always two to four tenths of a second behind the other car. In free practice, we didn’t manage to close the gap. That he dropped to 16th place was a matter of a few thousandths. That was a shame. I’d have been pleased even with tenth place. Now we’ve got to look at how we’re going to distribute the tactics to the two cars.”
Arno Zensen (Team Director Audi Sport Team Rosberg): “That ‘little’ (Nico) Müller is in fifth place here on his first run is very good. Congratulations to ‘Rocky’ on clinching pole. But we could have clinched it too. We were dominant in Q1 and Q2. We still need to find out why we couldn’t put this on track in Q3. But the overall result as a team isn’t bad.”