* Like last year, Mattias Ekström is again quickest in qualifying * Filipe Albuquerque will start from position two * Leader of the standings Martin Tomczyk on fifth row
A déjà-vu effect: Like last year, Mattias Ekström will again start into the race at the DTM round at Valencia from the pole position. Besides the Swede, Filipe Albuquerque also has reason to rejoice: The DTM rookie managed his best performance of the season so far by setting the second-best time.In challenging track conditions Mattias Ekström showed a flawless performance in qualifying. In all classified qualifying sections he was always one of the best two drivers. In the end, the two-time DTM Champion, as he previously did at the Nürburgring, posted the fastest time. His advantage was more than four tenths of a second - a world of difference in qualifying. This means that the Scandinavian from Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline will start from the top spot on the grid for the 18th time in his DTM career. "The track was changing very quickly here," analyzed the Swede, who has won two of the past three DTM rounds this year. "The constantly changing track temperatures were a challenge. The tires were very good but the tarmac was unpredictable. Still, we were competitive the whole time. Our hard work paid off."
Filipe Albuquerque showed a convincing performance as well. After only having been quick in the free practice sessions the weekend before, the Portuguese was able to show his potential in qualifying, too, this time: the fastest time in the first section, fourth place in the third section and, ultimately, position two in the crucial last single timed lap. The DTM rookie from Audi Sport Team Rosberg thus completes the Audi duo on the front row of the grid. Rows three and four are also firmly in the hands of Audi drivers. The four Abt team members Mike Rockenfeller, Miguel Molina, Timo Scheider and Oliver Jarvis will be starting from positions five to eight. This means that six Audi A4 DTM cars are among the top eight on the grid.
Leader of the standings Martin Tomczyk on the other hand was struggling with the track conditions. He will start into the race from position ten. He said that the set-up of his Audi A4 DTM was good but that smaller mistakes thwarted a better lap time. That a moderate qualifying result does not necessarily have to prevent a good race result though was most recently demonstrated by the Bavarian at Oschersleben. From position 14 on the grid the racer from Audi Sport Team Phoenix improved to second place. For Tomczyk, who has a nine-point advantage in the DTM standings the situation of title rival Bruno Spengler provides a bit of consolation as well. The Canadian (Mercedes-Benz) did not achieve better than grid position twelve.
Filipe Albuquerque's team-mate Edoardo Mortara has to settle for position 14 on the grid. The Italian spun into the gravel trap and thus forced the second qualifying section to be stopped. Rahel Frey from Audi Sport Team Phoenix in the battle of the ladies beat her opponent Susie Stoddart by 27 thousandths of a second and will start from position 17. The race will begin on Sunday at 2 p.m. (live broadcast on "Das Erste" from 1:45 p.m., local time)."A great result for Audi with two cars on the front row," said a pleased Dr. Martin Mühlmeier, Technical Director of Audi Sport. "Mattias (Ekström) and Filipe (Albuquerque) did a perfect job up to and including the fourth qualifying section. The situation was a little strange for Martin Tomczyk, who made a mistake in the second sector. Then he reduced his speed a bit. On his next lap he was only able to take tenth place. We've got to see what the race will bring tomorrow. Martin has to push to make up ground. He has already shown how good he is at doing that this season - most recently at Oschersleben."