Mattias Ekström secures grid position two Four Audi RS 5 DTM cars in the top six Fog and rain make for difficult conditions
The two-time DTM Champion Mattias Ekström in his Red Bull Audi RS 5 DTM will be starting the race at the Lausitzring from the front row of the grid. With four RS 5 DTM cars in the top six Audi is in a very good overall position for round eight of the season.
The spectators’ patience at Lausitz was tested on Saturday. Due to fog the rescue helicopter was grounded until the late afternoon. As a result, the DTM cars were able to go out on track for the first time at 4 p.m. And instead of two one-hour sessions the teams only had 15 minutes of free practice to prepare for qualifying. In addition, a partially wet track made for difficult conditions which the Audi drivers, on the whole, managed to handle well. When the first part of qualifying had to be interrupted due to an excursion of a BMW driver Timo Scheider (AUTO TEST Audi RS 5 DTM) was at the front of the field. The two-time DTM Champion again set the fastest time in the extended second section (Q2).In the crucial third segment (Q3) Mattias Ekström struck. The Swede missed the pole position by merely 0.057 seconds and will be starting in a DTM race from the front row again for the first time since August 2013 (Moscow). “It was an impeccable performance. I drove without making mistakes and am happy,” said the Swede who before the race at the Lausitzring is in second place of the standings. “We’re enjoying this day and are looking forward to the race.” Jamie Green (Hoffmann Group Audi RS 5 DTM) and Timo Scheider secured grid positions three and four. With that, drivers from Audi Sport Teams Abt Sportsline, Rosberg and Phoenix are starting from the first two rows. The strong performance by the Audi drivers was completed by Miguel Molina (Audi Sport Audi RS 5 DTM) taking sixth place. Title defender Mike Rockenfeller in the Schaeffler Audi RS 5 DTM in tenth place just barely missed the leap into the top eight. Edoardo Mortara (Audi Sport Audi RS 5 DTM), Adrien Tambay (Playboy Audi RS 5 DTM) and Nico Müller (Audi Financial Services Audi RS 5 DTM) secured grid positions 13, 18 and 20.“We’ve got to be happy with four RS 5 cars among the top six – especially since the conditions today were extremely difficult,” said Dieter Gass, Head of DTM at Audi Sport. “I’m particularly pleased that Mattias (Ekström) has regained his former qualifying form. It’s been a long time since he started from the front row. We know how strong he is in the race. That gives rise to hopes for tomorrow. But Jamie (Green) and Timo (Scheider) clinched very good starting bases as well.” The race at the Lausitzring will start at 13.30 on Sunday. ARD will start to air live coverage 13.15 (CEST). Mattias Ekström’s team director Hans-Jürgen Abt, who led Audi factory driver Lucas di Grassi to the historic victory in the inaugural race of the new FIA Formula E Championship in Beijing (China) on Saturday, will arrive at the Lausitzring in time for the race.
Quotes after qualifying
Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): “Considering that the Lausitzring wasn’t necessarily our track in the past we worked out a very good starting base for the race. In Mattias (Ekström), Jamie (Green) and Timo (Scheider), three seasoned campaigners will be on the first two rows of the grid. I’m hoping for one of these three to clinch the first victory of the DTM season for Audi tomorrow.” Dieter Gass (Head of DTM): “It was a difficult session due to the conditions with the drying track. The red flag in the first part didn’t make things any easier because we previously had only 15 minutes of free practice. That’s why we’ve got to be happy with the result even though we didn’t occupy the top spot again. It’s beginning to get on our nerves that there’s always somebody else clambering about in front of our noses although we again delivered a strong and cohesive team performance.”Mattias Ekström (Red Bull Audi RS 5 DTM), grid position 2“It’s always nice to take a spot on the front row. It was an impeccable performance. I drove without making mistakes and am happy. I didn’t do anything differently with the car and drove the way I always do. We’re enjoying this day and are looking forward to the race.”Jamie Green (Hoffmann Group Audi RS 5 DTM), grid position 3“It was a funny day for all of us. The weather was bad and we didn’t get to drive a lot. Still, my team worked out a good set-up. I’m happy with third place. This position gives me a good chance for the race.” Timo Scheider (AUTO TEST Audi RS 5 DTM), grid position 4“I’m pleased, the car was good, the performance was there, and the second row is a good starting base for a good result tomorrow. The guys did a great job in the stressful phase after we had nothing to do all day.”Miguel Molina (Audi Sport Audi RS 5 DTM), grid position 6“It was a good qualifying session for me. It wasn’t easy because the track conditions kept changing a lot. But in the end it worked out well. I’m in the top ten again. The whole squad did a superb job. I’ve got a good starting base and am hoping for a strong race. My personal goal is a place in the top three. I’m optimistic.” Mike Rockenfeller (Schaeffler Audi RS 5 DTM), grid position 10“A disappointing qualifying session. But in such conditions anything is always possible. It was very tight for advancing. In the end I just barely missed it.” Edoardo Mortara (Audi Sport Audi RS 5 DTM), grid position 13“It was a difficult qualifying session for us. We weren’t fast enough. It’ll be difficult for us in the race tomorrow – especially on the first lap.” Adrien Tambay (Playboy Audi RS 5 DTM), grid position 18 “We’re far at the back. I had a lot of traffic on track but that’s not meant to be an excuse.” Nico Müller (Audi Financial Services RS 5 DTM), grid position 20“Of course it’s not easy having to immediately drive your first laps in dry conditions on a new track in qualifying. These weren’t optimal auspices and if the situation then is as tight as usual, things become difficult. Today it wasn’t enough. 20th place is my worst qualifying result in the DTM so far. But I’m hoping to advance tomorrow. With a little luck we’ll finish in the points.” Thomas Biermeier (Sport Director Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline): “It was a difficult qualifying session with the changing weather conditions and the drying track. Mattias (Ekström) showed a strong performance, and so did Miguel (Molina). Both made it into Q3. With Adrien (Tambay) and Edo (Mortara) the situation didn’t work out quite as well. Tomorrow is a new day. Tomorrow we’re going to strike back – we’re well set.” Ernst Moser (Team Director Audi Sport Team Phoenix): “A totally crazy weekend. First, we had nothing to do and then it all happened within an hour and a half. That makes the result even sweeter. I’d have liked to have had both cars in the top eight, but the second car was only out for a short time. But in that case we’ve got a good grid position as well. In Timo’s (Scheider) case I thought he’d manage to clinch pole today up to the last lap – he drove superbly. In the race, we can achieve something with both cars, so I’m happy.”Arno Zensen (Team Director Audi Sport Team Rosberg): “I’ve got mixed feelings. Jamie (Green) did a brilliant job on clinching third place. That’s got quite a bit of potential for tomorrow. Nico (Müller) had a hard time. He drove on a dry track here for the first time in qualifying. Finding the optimal braking points in that case is impossible, especially in such a tight field. He’s got to cope with this now. That’s the learning curve.”