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Rockenfeller thankful for ‘superb decision’

Photo by Audi AGMike Rockenfeller has thanked his Phoenix Audi team for their ‘superb’ strategy in the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters second round at Oschersleben that helped the reigning champion to second and subsequently the championship lead.

Rockenfeller started the race from fifth on the grid but soon dropped down the order in a chaotic rain-affected race with three safety car periods. Even ten laps from the chequered flag the German was running down in 12th position. However from this point on, all of Rockenfeller’s rivals, except Vietoris directly in front, had to pit for their final tyre change.

The appearance of a final safety car on lap 27 to retrieve the stricken Mercedes of Pascal Wehrlein, crucially after Rockenfeller’s final pit stop, helped to hand the race back to the Audi driver.

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“It was a chaotic race,” said Rockenfeller. “I started on standard tyres and that wasn’t a good choice for the initial conditions. For me, the race seemed to be over at that time. But then Team Phoenix made a superb decision and called me in for the tire change at exactly the right moment.

“Even victory would have still been possible,” added Rockenfeller, who crucially was overtaken by eventual winner Vietoris on lap 33 whilst battling for what was then 12th position. “But second place is good, too. We scored a lot of points and clinched the lead of the standings. It was a great day for us. Many thanks to Audi and to Team Phoenix.”

Audi’s Head of DTM Dieter Gass praised the quality of the racing at Oschersleben, made more exciting due to the rain which set in just as the race started. However Gass believes that Audi could have scored a victory, not only with Rockenfeller but also with Team Rosberg’s Jamie Green, who had been comfortably leading for much of the second half of the race.

“Without any exaggeration: It was really very turbulent, from the beginning to the end,” said Gass. “Whenever the cars are on the grid and rain sets in there’s boundless uncertainty. Further into the race, with the heavier rain and the safety car periods, the spectators were treated to plenty of action.

“We’ve got two Audi drivers on the podium – Mike and Edoardo [Mortara]. That’s a good result but I’m still a bit disappointed. For long stretches, it was possible for us to win on our own strength. Until shortly before the end we were running in front and still didn’t manage to win.”

Audi leave Oschersleben with four of their drivers inside the top ten in the championship, with Rockenfeller leading on 30 points. Abt Audi drivers Mattias Ekström, Adrien Tambay and Edoardo Mortara are 4th, 5th and 6th in the championship respectively on 18, 16 and 15 points.

The next round of the DTM takes place at the Hungaroring on the 31 May / 1 June.

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