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Audi hope to bounce back in Austria

Audi are looking to secure their first win of the season at the forthcoming Austrian round of the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters, as the series heads to the Red Bull Ring for round four.

Drivers Miguel Molina and Adrien Tambay were recently in action in Austria’s second largest city Graz where 22,000 spectators saw the duo complete demonstration runs and practice pit-stops along with the other DTM manufacturers as part of the promotion for this weekend’s event.

On the race track, Audi have taken just two third-place podium finishes so far in 2012 whilst rivals Mercedes-Benz and BMW have both won races. Despite having shown strong pace in qualifying, including taking pole position for the season opener, Audi drivers have failed to capitalise on race pace.

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Audi’s lead driver, Swede Mattias Ekström, endured his only retirement of the season last year in Austria, having also suffered from an accident in qualifying, and is sure that things can only improve in the 2012 event.

“I’m looking forward to travelling to Spielberg,” said Ekström. “I’ve got fond memories of the good, old days there. Last year was an exception – I think that was the worst race in my whole career. I’m certain of one thing, though: it can’t be topped, things can only get better. We’re going to analyze where we can improve in order to finally be able to battle for the big points again.”

Mike Rockenfeller, currently Audi’s second-best driver in the standings in 5th, is hoping to continue his recent form which saw him finish third overall last time out at Brands Hatch. The German finished fifth at the Red Bull-owned circuit in 2011.

“Spielberg is a really tremendous track and a beautiful region,” said Rockenfeller. “I had a lot of fun there last year. I also had a pretty good weekend there from a sporting perspective. Obviously, I’m hoping to be strong again at Spielberg this year and to have a good car. Everyone in the team and at Audi Sport in Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm is working on that. As always, a good performance in qualifying is very important. I’m hoping for us to have the speed that’ll put us in contention for victory.”

For Audi’s youngest pilot, Tambay, the Austrian event will mark his first time racing around the Red Bull Ring. The Frenchman has progressively improved his performances so far in 2012, scoring a best-ever result of 12th last time out at Brands Hatch and qualifying comfortably inside the top ten at the British track.

“I’ve never driven a race in Austria,” said the 21 year-old. “The Red Bull Ring is the only circuit on the calendar that I don’t know. Obviously I want to do as well as possible in qualifying again. Maybe I’ll manage to score my first point in the race as well. Our family has tradition at this track. My father started from pole position in the Formula 1 race at Zeltweg in 1983.”

The 42-lap race around the Red Bull Ring takes place at 1330 CEST (Central European Summer Time) on Sunday.

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