||AUDI CLINCH DOUBLE VICTORY AT ZANDVOORT
5 September 2004
In front of a record turnout of 73,000 spectators Audi celebrated their second one-two victory in a row in the DTM. Having clinched his third victory in the season, Audi driver Mattias Ekström took another step towards winning the DTM title this year.
With two races remaining, the Swede in his Audi A4 DTM now has a 13-point lead. This means that as early as in the penultimate round at Brno on 19 September he will be playing his first ‘matchball’.
At Zandvoort, Ekström was the dominant driver: having gone into the race from pole and having pulled off a perfect start, he took the lead right away. The Swede was setting the pace at the front of the field until the race was stopped due to a crash and restarted later. Following the restart, the Audi driver mastered the decisive ten-lap sprint with a superior performance as well, clinching a start-finish victory.
Martin Tomczyk – having worked his way up from fourth to second place after the start – was the second driver to lock in Audi’s 1-2 victory at Zandvoort. Tom Kristensen finished sixth, although a spin that was no fault of his own had caused him to fall behind considerably. Emanuele Pirro – finishing seventh – scored points, too, and Frank Biela barely missed scoring a point. Christian Abt in his Audi A4 DTM was also fighting at the front of the field, but had to retire early because his fire extinguisher went off during the second pit stop.
Quotes after the race
Mattias Ekström (Audi Sport Team Abt / Audi A4 DTM #5)
“The toughest thing today was the race being stopped. A new start always harbours a new risk, but everything went perfectly. I made no mistakes, and – as always – the pit crew did a fantastic job. The only critical thing was the first lap after the second start: my tyres were dirty, that’s why things got really tight in the first turn. Today means a major step towards the Championship title, thanks – also – to Martin, whose second place-finish took valuable points away from those chasing me.”
Martin Tomczyk (Audi Sport Team Abt / Audi A4 DTM #6)
2nd place, + 0.805s
“This was a thrilling race with a happy ending. Everything was running perfectly. I had a good start and was able to work my way up quickly from fourth to second place. I was able to keep this position after the restart as well. In that respect, the last ten laps were relatively easy. The important thing was that in the first part of the race I was able to overtake Bernd Schneider right after his second pit stop. The fighting was very tight but very fair as well. All the more delighted I am about this fantastic result.”
Christijan Albers Third, Gary Paffett Fourth
Schneider had qualified third behind Paffett and overtook his English team mate at the start to take second place. Albers was seventh after the first lap.
Schneider and Paffett made their first pit stops on lap six followed by Albers one lap later and Alesi on lap eight. During the first round of pit stops Paffett dropped to sixth, but overtook Christian Abt on lap 11 toimprove to fifth. Alesi came in for his second stop on lap 16. Schneider pitted on lap 17 with Albers and Paffett making their stops on lap 18. Schneider rejoined the race immediately in front of Martin Tomczyk and was passed by the Audi driver shortly afterwards.
On lap 24 the race was red-flagged following an accident of Peter Dumbreck (Opel Vectra GTS V8) at the beginning of the front straight. After more than one hour it was restarted, the remaining distance according to the rules was ten laps.
At the restart Albers improved from sixth to third, followed by Schneider and Paffett. The Englishman overtook Schneider to take fourth position. On lap seven, Albers posted the fastest lap of the race with a 1:36.441. Ekström won ahead of Tomczyk, Albers and Paffett.
Manuel Reuter finishes eighth for Opel at Zandvoort
Once again, Manuel Reuter (OPC Team Holzer) was the best-placed Opel driver in Sunday’s eighth round of the DTM at Zandvoort, attended by a new record crowd of 73,000 spectators. Behind eighth-placed Reuter, Marcel Fässler (OPC Team Phoenix) also scored a top ten finish for the Rüsselsheim brand. The race distance was cut short to only ten laps following an accident by Opel driver Peter Dumbreck from which he was able to walk away unscathed.
Testing on Friday was a positive start for Opel, as Laurent Aiello and Peter Dumbreck (both OPC Team Phoenix) posted top six times in the two sessions. Local hero Jeroen Bleekemolen, who was a star of the race here last year in his rookie season, was also on top form for his first race in the OPC Euroteam Vectra V8 GTS, setting the seventh fastest time in his first official test session after swapping from a year-old Astra Coupe.
In Saturday morning’s free practice session it was the turn of Manuel Reuter, fresh from scoring a hard-earned podium finish in the previous race at Oschersleben, to lead the Opel charge. He was third fastest, ahead of title protagonists Mattias Ekström (Audi) and Christijan Albers (Mercedes). Among the four Opels in the top eight was former Formula 1 star Heinz-Harald Frentzen (OPC Team Holzer).
It wasn’t all good news, however, as both Aiello and Bleekemolen suffered heavy crashes at the daunting 100mph Scheivlak bend. Both OPC Team Phoenix and Euroteam did fantastically well to rebuild the cars in time for a couple of laps of qualifying.
Three Opels made it into the Top 10 Super Pole shoot-out, with Timo Scheider (OPC Team Holzer) the highest placed in fifth position, but the ever-changing track conditions of the single-lap format seemed to work against the Opel drivers. Reuter was eighth fastest, ahead of Scheider and Marcel Fässler (OPC Team Phoenix).
“We expected a lot better than that,” said Opel’s motorsport chief Volker Strycek. “I know we should have been quicker but we will have to live with it.”
Reuter commented: “Zandvoort is a difficult track to judge because of the proximity of all the sand. The wind can blow that onto the circuit, and cars can also bring it onto the racing line. My car was very good in practice and pre-qualifying, but I had far too much oversteer in Super Pole. I’m very disappointed, because I was expecting to be in the top four. We will have to look to our strength in race conditions instead.”
The Opels were in the thick of the action from the start, with Reuter and Scheider running well in the top 10, while further back Dumbreck was battling with ex-F1 star Jean Alesi, and set the overall fastest lap before the first pitstops.
Dumbreck, however, then suffered the biggest DTM accident for many years when his car went off at the 120mph Arie Luyendijk Bocht. Despite hitting the barriers at unabated speed, and rolling over three times, Dumbreck was able to walk away from his car, which stood up to the impact immensely well – a testament to the DTM’s safety systems which includes a carbonfibre monocoque ‘safety cell’ surrounding the driver.
Following the accident, the race was stopped. According to the DTM regulations, the remaining ten lap sprint would be the sole basis for the race result. Manuel Reuter started in eighth place and defended his position until the chequered flag. Thus, the Austrian-based driver was once again the best-placed Opel works driver. He was followed by Marcel Fässler in the top ten after Timo Scheider dropped back to twelfth position with power steering failure. Local hero Jeroen Bleekemolen finished his maiden race with the Vectra GTS V8 in 13th position.
“In the second race, my car had less grip than in the first race so I wasn’t able to attack. At least, we scored one point”, said Manuel Reuter. Opel motorsport director Volker Strycek analyzed: “The most important news of the day is the fact that Peter is fine. The safety concept of the DTM proved its worth and our engineers have incorporated it into the Opel Vectra GTS V8 in a magnificent way.”
1. M.Ekström/Audi 10 laps/16m16.858s
2. M.Tomczyk +0.805s
3. C.Albers/Mercedes +1.440
4. G.Paffett/Mercedes +2.757
5. B.Schneider/Mercedes +4.498
6. T.Kristensen/Audi +4.981
7. E.Pirro/Audi +8.022
8. M.Reuter/Opel +8.817
9. F.Biela/Audi +15.121
10. M. Fässler/Opel +17.537
12. T.Scheider/Opel +23.360
13. J.Bleekemolen/Opel +25.688
P.Dumbreck/Opel, retired in round 1
L.Aiello/Opel, retired in round 1
H.-H. Frentzen/Opel, retired in round 1
DTM, Standings after eight of ten races:
1. Ekström 61 points
2. Albers 48
3. Paffett 45
4. Tomczyk 31
5. Kristensen 30
6. Schneider 26
7. Alesi 14
8. Scheider 13
9. Aiello 12
10. Reuter 9
11. Fässler 8
12. Dumbreck 6
DTM, next round:
17 to 19 September 2004, Brno (CZ)
Gary Paffett Second, Bernd Schneider Third Four Audis, three Mercedes-Benzs and three Opels in the Top Ten
Gary Paffett (C-Klasse AMG-Mercedes) will start Sunday’s eighth round of the 2004 DTM at Zandvoort, Netherlands from second position on the grid. Starting first in the exciting single-lap qualifying Paffett achieved a time of 1:34.168. Bernd Schneider (Vodafone AMG-Mercedes) was third fastest with a 1:34537 whilst Christijan Albers (DaimlerChrysler Bank AMG-Mercedes) qualified seventh fastest with a 1:35.104.
Mattias Ekström (Audi A4 DTM) was the last driver in the single-lap qualifying and the first with a better time than Paffett. Ekström claimed pole position with a 1:34.051 and a gap of 0.117sec. Four Audi A4 DTMs, three AMG-Mercedes and three Opel Vectra GTS V8s are in the Top Ten.
In the hard fought qualifying before, Bernd Schneider had been second fastest with a time of 1:33.864 after aborting his first run and completing only one fast lap. Christijan Albers (1:34.417) was ninth fastest with nine thousandths of a second ahead of Gary Paffett (1.34.426) who ended up tenth.
Jean Alesi (AMG-Mercedes/1:35.063) qualified 13th and missed the single-lap qualifying by 0.355sec. Stefan Mücke (CLK AMG-Mercedes/1:35.823) was the fastest driver with a last year’s car and will start 17th on the grid. He was followed by Markus Winkelhock (Original-Teile AMG-Mercedes/1:35.935) and Bernd Mayländer (CLK AMG-Mercedes/1:36.309) in 18th and 19th positions respectively. Jarek Janis (Sonax Dark Dog AMG-Mercedes) was 21st with a 1:38.361.
Gary Paffett (C-Klasse AMG-Mercedes), second (1:34.168): “In qualifying, I made a mistake in the middle sector and ran wide, however, my lap in the single-lap qualifying was almost perfect. The middle sector is very dirty and slippery. After tenth place in qualifying the second place on the grid is a great result and a good basis for the race.”
Bernd Schneider (Vodafone AMG-Mercedes), third (1:34.537): “The car handled very well. I made a mistake under braking at the first corner, but I didn’t lose much time and I’m quite happy with my third place.”
Christijan Albers (DaimlerChrysler Bank AMG-Mercedes), seventh (1:35.104): “My first run in qualifying was quite OK, but afterwards I didn’t manage to improve further. In the single-lap qualifying’s first sector I was faster than Gary who had started before me, but I ran wide in the middle sector and lost time.”
In the DTM’s eighth round of the season, an Audi A4 DTM will yet again be starting from the pole position. Leader of the standings Mattias Ekström was the quickest driver in the singled timed lap (“super pole”), thus clinching the best position on the starting grid for the third time this year. The Audi A4 DTM in its debut season today even achieved the best qualifying time for as much as the fourth time. Martin Tomczyk, Christian Abt and Tom Kristensen – securing the fourth, fifth and sixth places on the grid respectively – complemented the strong performance of the Audi teams as a whole. Today’s qualifying results mean that on Sunday at 2 p.m. local time, all four Audi A4 DTM cars fielded by Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline will be starting from the first three rows. Emanuele Pirro of Audi Sport Infineon Team Joest – with an eleventh-place finish in the qualifying – barely missed the super pole by 85 thousandths of a second. Team-mate Frank Biela will be starting the race from position 14.
Quotes after qualifying
Mattias Ekström (Audi Sport Team Abt / Audi A4 DTM #5)
1st place “super pole”, 1m 34.051s”My car was really good, but in the super pole the grip level was a lot lower than during the qualifying. After two, three corners I started to get a bit worried. I gave everything, and that was enough for taking pole. I’m very happy about this, because I think that Audi have really deserved the pole position here. For tomorrow, I’m very optimistic, because we also have a very good set-up for the race.”
Martin Tomczyk (Audi Sport Team Abt / Audi A4 DTM #6)
4th place, “super pole”, 1m 34.710s”In the super pole I was seven tenths slower than in the qualifying and not at all happy with my time at first. But in the end, I managed to achieve a good result after all, because – somehow – everyone was having problems building up grip for the tyres. The fact that two Mercedes cars will be between Mattias and myself will make things very exciting tomorrow.”
Christian Abt (Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline / Audi A4 DTM #11)
5th place, 1m 34.813s”In my super pole lap I was surprised that there was no grip at all in the first sector. I started sliding about quite a bit and had to pull myself together to keep from making any mistakes. I kept my calm and sacrificed two, three tenths that way. Nevertheless, I’m satisfied with my qualifying result. And in the race, anything’s possible.”