The 2012 DTM season has not be the runaway year Audi Motorsports may have wanted with the debut of the A5 body in competition.
Racing against ongoing foe Mercedes-Benz and aggressive resurgence of BMW, Audi’s 2012 campaign has not netted the yield of victories the Four Rings are used to in the popular German-based series. With Audi drivers in 2011 scoring victories all but two of the DTM series rounds en route to a 2011 constructor championship as well as driver championship honours with Martin Tomczyk, the teams under the automaker’s banner have only two wins in 2012. While the Audi teams competing the A5 DTM car were outwit by the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe and the BMW M3 on the race weekend’s overall honours, a secret battle has been fought with the latest Valencia round proving pivotal to their season-long plan.
On the just over 4-kilometer long course in Valencia, Spain, the penultimate round of the 2012 DTM series involved a wacky string of events that greatly aided Audi’s chance at claiming the constructor championship. Though the 46-lap event ended up being won by series rookie Augusto Farfus driving a BMW M3 and BMW Team RBM, a squad of Audi A5s collected some important results that came with championship points. Adrien Tambay for Audi Sport Team Abt and Mattias Ekstrom driving the Red Bull-sponsored A5 for Abt Sportsline were on the podium at Valencia. The second place for Frenchman Tambay is personal-best in his initial season driving the DTM cars. Ekstrom’s third place run is his eighth top-10 in nine races on the 2012 calendar (Only Jamie Green for Mercedes AMG have scored points in every round this season).
Cementing two of three podium finishes, the Audi A5 DTM machines took five of the top ten spots at Valencia. Piloting a car for Team Rosberg, Filipe Albuquerque finished fourth ahead of the Team Phoenix Audi A5 of Mike Rockenfeller. Coming across the line in 7th place, Swiss driver Rahel Frey netted her first DTM series points after two seasons on the tour driving the Audi Sport Team Abt A5 car. In total, Audi teams captured 61 points.
With the Valencia points haul, Audi has been elevated 31 points ahead of Mercedes-Benz heading into the 10th and final round on the 2012 DTM schedule. The Valencia race proved particularly costly when Mercedes-Benz’s only point-scoring entrant Jamie Green left with a single point. On October 21st, the Audi teams will mount their last stand of the 2012 DTM with the series finale at the Hockenheimring. While the constructor points standings leave all three car make in a position to snatch the manufacturer honours, Audi is anxious to repeat.
Information source: Audi AG, DTM
Photo source: Audi AG
During the first three races of the 2012 DTM series, Audi has been outpaced by the competition of Mercedes-Benz AMG and BMW. Replacing the successful A4 (a car that carried Audi drivers to 7 of the 10 points-scoring DTM races in 2011), the A5 coupe-based race car did enter the 2012 season with some big tire tracks to fill. For the one and only visit to the country of Austria, Audi entered determined to mount a concentrated effort to mount a podium-topping DTM effort at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg. To the delight of Audi boosters, the Austrian spectacle was the event where the A5 DTM race car would reign supreme.
The successful weekend for Audi started on Saturday when the A5 claimed its second series pole of DTM. For the first time since the debut race at the Hockenheimring where Mattias Ekström’s Red Bull-sponsored A5 scored a qualifying victory, the Audi Sport Team Rosberg car of Edoardo Mortara garnered the top spot at the 10-turn, 2.688-mile Red Bull Ring. “It’s simply incredible: my first pole position in the DTM! What can I say? Thank you to my guys from Team Rosberg, thank you to Audi Sport!” said the 25-year old driver Mortara after collecting the pole position.
On race day, the Playboy-sponsored Audi A5 DTM car of Edoardo Mortara only needed to preserve his position from the start in order to set up an ideal course over 47 laps. Placed on his first pole, the launch to begin Sunday’s main event was a challenge for second-year Italian driver Mortara. Contending with DTM points leader Gary Paffett and his Mercedes-AMG C-Coupe at the start, the Team Rosberg Audi A5 had an eventful entrance into the first corner but successfully fought off Paffett.
Fending off Gary Paffett early, the latter part of the DTM race at the Red Bull Ring, Edoardo Mortara and Audi’s plans for victory were put in danger by a former pilot of the four-ring badge products. Winning the 2011 championship with the Audi A4, Martin Tomczyk had jumped ship to the new BMW effort for 2012. Tomczyk’s BMW M3 hounded the rear of the Montara’s Audi A5 looking to exploit any mishap of the Team Rosberg race machine. Undaunted, Edoardo Montara flew to the checkered flag first holding off Tomczyk by a 1.068-second gap.
For what was a series of firsts, Edoardo Mortara celebrated at the top of the podium for what is a first official DTM win (Mortara won a round in the Munich Olympic Stadium last year but the race was not classified as part of the points-paying 2011 DTM tour). “After a few difficult weekends I wouldn’t have necessarily expected to win. You always try and give your best and today we achieved the maximum.” said Mortara. The first win for the Audi A5 is also the first DTM series victory for Team Rosberg since joining Audi in 2006.
Mattias Ekström brought the Audi A5 sponsored by the owner of the Austria track to a 4th place finish. Ekström commented in post-race about his 4th top-5 in the opening 4 DTM events saying, “I had a very good start in the race but then unfortunately lost a few places on lap one. In the end, I finished in fourth place. It’s definitely a bit disappointing that I didn’t finish on podium and manage to score big points.“
Finishing sixth, Timo Scheider with the ABT Sportsline Audi A5 was actually having a better race until taking a trip through the gravel trap. Finishing more than 35 seconds behind the leader, Scheider’s race was still a strong outing that included posting the fastest lap time around the Red Bull Ring during the 47-lap event.
Phoenix Racing’s Mike Rockenfeller (two weeks away from joining the Audi Sport Team Joest squad at the Le Mans 24 hour race) finished 7th and Filipe Albuquerque in the second Team Rosberg Audi A5 finished 8th.
Audi’s first win comes ahead of a nearly one month lay-off for the 2012 DTM series. The next race will take place at the Norisring where Audi hasn’t since 2002.
Information source: Audi AG, DTM
Photo source: Audi AG
The Audi A5’s DTM career started optimistically in the first 2012 race of the popular German Touring Car tour. With Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline driver Mattias Ekström leading the way with a pole in qualifying and a podium result in the Hockenheimring main event, the A5 coupe performed admirably in its series debut. For race number two of the 2012 schedule, the whole 8-driver racing squad of Audi A5 race cars arrived at the Lausitzring seeking their first win with their new DTM vehicle.
With five Audi A5 braking into the top-10 during the weekend’s qualifying at the 3.478-kilometer road course on Saturday, Mike Rockenfeller’s Schaeffler-sponsored Audi Sport Team Phoenix entry was the fastest with a fourth-quickest time in the final time trial session. The BMW M3 race cars’ speed in qualifying demonstrated themselves to be a formidable force at the Lausitzring against the Audi A5 DTM team.
On what was a very cold race day at the German track, the 52-lap event was not exactly the outing Audi had been looking for in the second DTM race of 2012. The fourth place-starting Audi A5 of Mike Rockenfeller suffered setbacks from the beginning. Receiving contact in the rear, Rockenfeller misjudged the turn 1 corner during the opening lap causing his A5 to jump the curbing. “Something on the car probably got damaged in the process. We lost a few places. Afterward, there was no pace in the car anymore.” said Mike Rockenfeller. The driver of the Schaeffler Audi A5 would also experience a slow pit stop later in the race resulting in what would be a 13th place finish.
While Bruno Spengler prevailed at the Lausitzring for what would be BMW’s first DTM series victory in more than 19 years, the day for the Audi A5 teams was overall a strong effort that resulted in four cars in the top-10. Following up his third place at the Hockenheimring, Swedish driver Mattias Ekström again carried the flag for the Audi team at the second DTM event. A 5th place run for the #3 Red Bull Audi A5 is a consistent job Ekström who said after the race, “Naturally, it’s a nice thing to be the best Audi driver. Fifth place isn’t perfect but we scored important points for the championship. We’ve got to continue to work hard in order to have a better pace at the next race weekend.” Mattias Ekström’s Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline would also bring the second team car home in 6th place. Charging from 12th place on the grid to narrowly miss the top-5, Timo Scheider’s performance at the Lausitzring was much appreciated after misfortune in the opening event a week ago. “Performance was good afterwards, I moved forward with a few overtaking maneuvers and a good strategy. In the end, I caught Mattias (Ekström) and that meant I couldn’t advance any more. We had a nice fight.” said Scheider.
In 8th and 9th place, Team Rosberg performed another impressive team effort with Audi DTM cars. Italian Edoardo Mortara lead teammate Filipe Albuquerque across the line for the Team Rosberg organization. Behind Mike Rockenfeller’s 13th place finish, the remaining Audi drivers included Miguel Molina in 15th, Adrien Tambay in 18th and Rahel Frey who recorded 20th at the line.
With the Brands Hatch scheduled on May 20th, Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich looks back on the Lausitzring event saying, “It was a very tough race. Unfortunately, we didn’t find the overall performance we’d been hoping for. In the case of Timo (Scheider) and Mattias (Ekström) we tried something between warm-up and the race – I think that was a step in the right direction. But we’ve got to use the two weeks between now and the next race at Brands Hatch to be in contention for victory there again.”
Lausitzring DTM Race Results
1 Bruno Spengler Canada BMW Team Schnitzer BMW M3
2 Gary Paffett England THOMAS SABO Mercedes AMG C-Coupé
3 Augusto Farfus Brazil BMW Team RBM BMW M3
Audi Team Results
5 Mattias Ekström Sweden Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline Audi A5
6 Timo Scheider Germany Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline Audi A5
8 Edoardo Mortara Italy Audi Sport Team Rosberg Audi A5
9 Filipe Albuquerque Portugal Audi Sport Team Rosberg Audi A5
13 Mike Rockenfeller Germany Audi Sport Team Phoenix Audi A5
15 Miguel Molina Spain Audi Sport Team Phoenix Audi A5
18 Adrien Tambay France Audi Sport Team Abt Audi A5
20 Rahel Frey Switzerland Audi Sport Team Abt Audi A5
One of the fastest-growing auto racing tours in Europe, the DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) series launched into its 2012 season with a 40-lap main event at the 4.574-mile Hockenheimring GP Circuit April 29th.
Winning 7 of the 10 official DTM races last season with the Audi A4, the 2012 season presented a major transition for the German auto manufacturer. Firstly, their 2011 DTM championship-winning driver Martin Tomczyk defected to the newly-activated BMW effort in the series (BMW returns to DTM competition for the first time since 1993). Drivers Mattias Ekström for Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline and Mike Rockenfeller with Audi Sport Team Phoenix are favoured to be lead contenders for the championship title in Audi’s 2012 DTM effort.
Bracing for fierce competition with luxury car rival BMW’s M3 and Mercedes-AMG’s C-Coupe in the DTM series, Audi decided to retire the A4 from series in 2012. Replacing the steadfast performance of the sedan, the A5 coupe carries the integrity of the four rings. The Audi A5 DTM car conforms to new series regulations designed to standardize the parts among the three manufacturers for better competition and reduced costs. Despite what these vehicles might share, Audi was determined to demonstrate they still have an edge on their DTM competition.
After months of testing for all manufacturer and teams, Mattias Ekström started the career of the Audi A5 off right during Saturday’s qualifying. Scoring pole in the #3 Red Bull-sponsored Audi A5 at the Hockenheimring GP Circuit, Ekström entered Sunday needing to hold into this position over 40 laps in order to usher in 2012 victory. In front of the 22-car field, the #3 Audi A5’s chance of an early season win promising as Ekström led through the first four laps of the DTM main event. Unfortunately, Mattias Ekström efforts were thwarted by mistimed braking into turn two on lap 5. Ekström and the Red Bull Audi A5 lost the lead to Mercedes-AMG driver Jamie Green.
Ultimately in the Hockenheimring event, the Mercedes-AMG C-Coupes were just too strong in the season opener of the 2012 DTM series. Winning the event was #11 Mercedes-AMG C-Coupe of Gary Paffett finishing ahead of Jamie Green’s car. After 40 laps, Ekström brought the A5 of Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline across the finish line 19.4 seconds behind Paffett in 3rd place. “It’s always nice to be on podium. Our aim today was to be at the very top. Unfortunately, we only managed third place.” said the two-time DTM champion and lead Audi driver Mattias Ekström after the Hockenheimring event.
In fifth place, the #9 Schaffler-sponsored Audi A5 of Mike Rockenfeller secured a hard-earned top-5. “The race was very strenuous, I had a good start. After that, I was struggling because we’d changed the brake beforehand and tire pressure was a bit low. I had to let (Gary) Paffett pass at the start.” said Rockenfeller. In front of 142,000 spectators over the course of the race weekend, the Audi A5 DTM cars had four cars placed in the top- 10 with Miguel Molina crossing the line 9th and Filipe Albuquerque’s A5 finishing 10th.
While some of the Audi A5s were able to fight for top runs on the Hockenheimring road course, brand drivers Timo Scheider and Adrien Tambay had less than stellar finishes caused by on track incidents. The #4 Auto Test-sponsored Audi A5 of Scheider dropped out of the competition on lap 13 after race contact. “After running as the last car in the field I managed to advance to 14th place.” Timo Scheider commented about his early race run. “Then I overtook Roberto Mehri under braking and he hit my car. After that the car was so heavily damaged that it made no more sense to keep on driving.”
Calling his race result a shame, France’s Adrien Tambay spent only lap 3 behind the wheel of his Audi A5 DTM car before retiring. “ On lap one everything was going really well and I was shooting for seventh place. But then an accident happened in front of me and there was a lot of commotion. I was right in the middle of a sandwich.” said Tambay. The French driver would add, “Still, I take positive stock of my first DTM weekend and am already looking forward to the Lausitzring.”
Viewing the race as a whole for the new Audi A5 DTM car, Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich said, “It was nice that we were able to decide the new DTM’s first qualifying event with Mattias Ekström’s pole position. Naturally, we wanted to convert that into victory as well. Yet we were lacking the race performance to do so today.”
Completing the first of ten point-scoring DTM events in 2012, the Lausitzring is next on May 6th. “Now it’s our task to do everything we can so that we won’t be able to only show a perfect performance in qualifying but also in the race at the Lausitzring.” proclaimed Dr. Ullrich.
Information and photo source: Audi AG, DTM