Four of Audi’s drivers finished the opening Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters race in the points-paying top ten positions, with Mattias Ekström the first home in third. But it was a disappointing result for Audi, who had started on pole position for the race with Ekström.
A decisive mistake on the fifth lap of the race saw Swede Ekström surrender the lead of the race to Jamie Green, with Gary Paffett also following through as a result. Ekström would not retake either position for the rest of the race, being forced to settle for third. Nevertheless, the former double champion was pleased with his result.
“It’s always nice to be on podium,” said Ekström. “Our aim today was to be at the very top. Unfortunately, we only managed third place. Well done to Mercedes and Gary and Jamie, they were quicker today. We need to analyze what went wrong and then we’ll have a good chance of striking back.”
Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich stressed that despite having celebrated pole on Saturday he wants to see Audi converting those into race wins on Sunday.
“The cars functioned well and were very close together in terms of performance,” said Ullrich. “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. 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.”
Rockenfeller, fifth, added that he felt unable to match the pace of the Mercedes-Benz drivers on Sunday, even easily conceding a position to Christian Vietoris late in the race to ensure that he was able to take home a comfortable points haul for fifth.
“I was struggling because we’d changed the brake beforehand and tire pressure was a bit low,” explained ‘Rocky’. “I had to let Paffett pass at the start. Then I was running on position five and drove a similar pace as Mattias Ekström. We had two good pit stops. At the end of the race I had to let Christian Vietoris pass. He was too quick for me and I wanted to score points today at all cost.”
Edoardo Mortara, who eventually finished in tenth, had a difficult race including being penalised by the race stewards for contact with Joey Hand at the hairpin. It was a decision that the Italian felt was unjust.
“For me, it was a difficult race,” admitted Mortara. “I had a brilliant start and a good rhythm but unfortunately we weren’t able to overtake the others. My team gave everything. There were a few incidents of body contact. I received a drive-through penalty for the collision with Joey Hand. That was a bit strange. But next week at the Lausitzring we want to be strong. We showed that we’re among the best in the Audi squad.”
Former double champion Timo Scheider was also on the receiving end of contact – firstly from Ralf Schuamcher and then latterly from Roberto Merhi. The German was clearly frustrated with the Mercedes-Benz drivers following the race, having retired after 13 laps.
“I had a normal start, managed to run alongside Priaulx in turn one, who didn’t leave a lot of room for me, so I had to give in. In turn three, I had recovered a few positions, was almost around the corner when I felt an impact and was turned around. On the first lap that was very frustrating,” said Scheider. “After running as the last car in the field I managed to advance to 14th place. 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.”
Audi head to the Lausitzring this weekend with the clear aim of returning to the top – in 2011 the manufacturer scored a 1-2 finish with Martin Tomczyk and Timo Scheider.