- Fascinating documentary about Audi’s tenth victory at Le Mans
- Audi thrills guests at Hockenheim with “Waldi’s DTM Club”
- Podium finish for the Audi R8 LMS ultra on the Nordschleife
Everyone was focused on Hockenheim this weekend where the eagerly awaited opening round of the 2012 DTM was staged. Yet from Audi Sport’s perspective Los Angeles, the Nürburgring and Shanghai were interesting venues as well.
Fascination Le Mans: On Thursday, the Le Mans film “Truth in 24 II” celebrated its world premiere in Los Angeles. With unique dramaturgy the documentary puts one of the most thrilling events of the Le Mans 24 Hours in focus – the 79th edition of the endurance classic. Marcel Fässler/André Lotterer/Benoît Tréluyer won the race last year at the wheel of the Audi R18 TDI with a lead of just 13.854 seconds. The three Audi factory drivers mingled with the enthusiastic crowd in attendance and enjoyed the cinematic premiere of their own victory. Audi had previously won various awards for “Truth in 24,” the film covering its 2008 Le Mans victory as well. The www.truth-in-24.com website provides first insights into “Truth in 24 II” that will be available as a download starting in May.
Podium at “dress rehearsal”: The third round of the VLN Endurance Championship at the Nürburgring had to be stopped early due to an accident. The two new Audi R8 LMS ultra from Phoenix Racing were classified in positions two (Christopher Mies/Markus Winkelhock) and four (Marc Basseng/Christopher Haase/Frank Stippler) at the event that served as a “dress rehearsal” for the 24-hour race on May 19/20.
Waldi’s DTM Club: Cult TV sports presenter Waldemar Hartmann and comedian Matze Knop provided superb entertainment and kept their audience in stitches during “Waldi’s DTM Club” at the Audi Team & Media Hospitality on the occasion of the DTM season opener at Hockenheim. Together with Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich and the two Audi DTM stars Mattias Ekström and Timo Scheider they “analyzed” the current DTM action and revealed a number of interesting details – for instance that Mattias Ekström is not interested in soccer and that Timo Scheider is a big fan of Borussia Dortmund. During his act Matze Knop imitated Niki Lauda, Jogi Löw, Franz Beckenbauer, Rainer Calmund and Lothar Matthäus, among others.
Celebrities galore: The DTM opener not only attracted 142,000 spectators to the Hockenheimring, as numerous celebrities came to visit Audi as well – first and foremost Alexandra Maria Lara, who like her husband and actor colleague Sam Riley enjoyed a ride in the Audi A4 DTM race taxi. Also seen at the Audi Lounge and the Audi Team & Media Hospitality were artistic gymnast Philipp Boy, actors Ralf Bauer, Daniel Brühl and Fritz Wepper, “Germany’s Next Top Model” winner in 2007, Barbara Meier, the former Formula 1 racers Jacky Ickx and Patrick Tambay the two-time World Rally Champion and former Audi factory driver Walter Röhrl.
High-level visitor: Jean Todt, President of the FIA, visited the DTM season opener at Hockenheim and was obviously impressed with the most popular international touring car racing series in which Audi is competing as the title defender. Todt was accompanied by ADAC Sport President Hermann Tomczyk and the new DMSB President Hans-Joachim Stuck, who in 1990 at the wheel of an Audi V8 quattro clinched the first of so far eight DTM titles for Audi.
Time traveler: Markus Winkelhock embarked on a small time journey this weekend. On Saturday, he drove the new Audi R8 LMS ultra at the VLN race on the Nürburgring and on Sunday the 1990 Audi V8 quattro during the Audi Drive Away at Hockenheim.
Taxi driver: Daniel Abt has a new sideline job. The Lotus GP3 racer and son of DTM Team Director Hans-Jürgen Abt takes the wheel of the Audi DTM race taxi this year whenever the 19-year-old driver’s calendar allows him to do so.
DTM continues to be aired on “Das Erste”: The long-standing cooperation between the ITR e.V., which owns and markets the DTM rights, and TV partner ARD was extended by another two years. This means that the DTM will continue to be aired live on German television on “Das Erste” until at least the end of 2014. For 2015, an option to extend was agreed. Reelected for another two years was the five-member ITR board, which includes Jürgen Pippig (AUDI AG) and Hans-Jürgen Abt (Team Director Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline). As Head of Audi Motorsport, Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich is a member of the advisory council.
Success in France: At the French GT3 Championship season opener at Lédenon in the south of France Grégory Guilvert and Paul Lamic won Sunday’s race in the Audi R8 LMS ultra of the Sainteloc team. The duo was forced to retire in the second race on Sunday.
Podium in Portugal: At the wet Spanish GT Championship season opener at Portimão the two vehicles of the Novadriver team took podium positions. In Saturday’s race the Portuguese Manuel Giao and Carlos Vieira in the Audi R8 LMS ultra finished in front of their team-mates César Campaniço and Mikko Eskelinen as the runners-up in the GTSE class. On Sunday, Giao and Vieira clinched another second place.
Successful start: The crowd at Shanghai witnessed two thrilling races at the inaugural event of the Audi R8 LMS Cup in China. In the first race, Alex Yoong prevailed against Marchy Lee and Jeffrey Lee. In the second race, Adderly Fong, who had started from position three, triumphed in front of Alex Yoong and Marchy Lee. 16 drivers competed in the world’s first one-make cup for the Audi R8 LMS.
New 24-hour trophy: The ADAC automobile club and race organizer SRO have incepted a new “24-Hour Trophy.”The trophy rewards the three GT3 teams showing the best aggregate results of the Nürburgring 24 Hours and the Spa-Francorchamps 24 Hours. No less than seven Audi R8 LMS ultra cars will be on the Nürburgring grid on May 19/20. At Spa, Audi celebrated overall victory last year, thus returning to the Ardennes on July 28/29 as the title defender.
Glorious group: On Tuesday, Audi UK hosted the Second Annual Audi UK Writers and Drivers Event at Goodwood House. Lord March, the owner of the impressive facility, met with Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich and his factory drivers Oliver Jarvis, Tom Kristensen andAllan McNish. Also in attendance were the former rally drivers Stig Blomqvist and Harald Demuth, sports car racers Richard Attwood, Mark Blundell, Andy Wallace, James Weaver and Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason. Leena Gade, Kyle Wilson-Clarke and Howden Haynes, three race engineers from Audi’s sports car program would not miss the evening either. The number “2” Audi R18 TDI that was victorious at Le Mans last year and parked in front of the clubhouse was another star of the evening.
Double commitments: For Audi Sport, next weekend will mark one of several double commitments in the 2012 season. In parallel to the DTM at the Lausitzring, the second round of the World Endurance Championship (WEC) will be held at Spa-Francorchamps. Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich will travel to Spa first and then be on location at the Lausitzring from Friday on. His role at Spa will be taken over by Dieter Gass, who has been Head of Racing Commitments at Audi Sport since January 1.
Press conference: The organizer of the ADAC 24-hour race at the Nürburgring is hosting a press conference at “Koelnmesse” on Wednesday. At “Congress-Centrum Nord” Frank Stippler and Markus Winkelhock, who will be contesting the endurance race on May 19 and 20 in the Audi R8 LMS ultra, will be featured as well.
A word from … Mattias Ekström
How did you experience the first race weekend of the new DTM era?
I was thrilled. I’ve never seen so many people in the stands and the paddock since I’ve been running in the DTM. And the best thing was that everyone was in really good spirits and, together with the drivers and mechanics, looking forward to the action finally starting again after the long winter break.
And in terms of the sport: Were you expecting such a balanced field of the three brands in qualifying?
I’ve been racing in the series long enough to know that you shouldn’t attach too much importance to the times and results in track tests. The truth only comes out on the Saturday of the first race weekend. The fact that at Hockenheim all three brands were battling on an equal footing also shows the quality of the work that had been done before the season behind the scenes. The fans can look forward to an exciting motorsport season – and everyone involved in the DTM can be proud of this.
You started into the season with the pole position and a podium finish – are you pleased?
I was incredibly happy about the pole position: for one, because it was the first pole in a new DTM era. But most of all because it was the best reward the mechanics and engineers could receive. They all performed an almost superhuman feat in the winter, over the past few weeks and especially on the first race weekend. Actually, they’d have deserved victory on Sunday for this as well.
As early as next weekend the next opportunity will present itself. What will your days be like until then?
Naturally, I was a bit down in the dumps immediately after the race because the gap to the winners was pretty large. But I’ll get over that after sleeping over it for a night and then I’ll strictly be looking ahead. Taking a deep breath for one or two days with the family, training a bit and then fully focusing on Lausitz and all-out attack.
Coming up next week
May 02 Cologne (D), press conference, Nürburgring 24 Hours
May 04 Fuji (J), round 2, Super GT
May 05 round 2, WEC, Spa-Francorchamps (B)
May 06 round 2, DTM, Lausitzring (D)
May 06 round 1, Italian GT Championship, Vallelunga (I)
May 06 round 2, ADAC GT Masters, Zandvoort (NL)