Barcelona hosts Round 8 of the German Touring Car Masters, but it’s anyones guess who will stand on the top step of the podium come Sunday.
Reigning champion Timo Scheider holds a 5 point lead over Audi team-mate Mattias EkstrÃ¶m in the Drivers Championship, but Mercedes trio Gary Paffett, Paul di Resta and Bruno Spengler will be trying their best to catch the runaway Audi’s.
So far it’s been hard to tell which car will perform best at each track. However Audi could well be favourites after a 10kg ballast has been applied to all the 2009 Mercedes C-Class cars for winning at Brands Hatch. Mercedes currently hold the momentum after Paul Di Resta‘s win, and Di Resta himself seems very confident ahead of the race despite the weight disadvantage.
“Last year we had a very good race in Barcelona,” Di Resta said. “Four AMG Mercedes C-Class drivers finished in the points and I was able to win. Following my victory in Brands Hatch, I am hoping for another good performance here so that I can reduce the gap to the leaders. I am already looking forward to Barcelona. A great race and can hardly wait.”
However Gary Paffett did not seem in such a great frame of mind, and the weight difference was clearly at the front of his mind; “We have a good car, as we proved once again in Brands Hatch. In Barcelona, I will be focusing on closing the points gap to Timo Scheider. The 10kg additional weight following Paul's victory in the last race at Brands Hatch will not make things easy though.”
Norbert Haug was still bullish about Mercedes’ chances at the Circuit de Catalunya though, and has only one result in his mind.
“We have won in Barcelona in each of the past two years and we intend to try to do the same in 2009. After four victories in seven races to date, we again have a 10kg weight disadvantage compared with the opposition, but we managed to win in Zandvoort despite this handicap and we will try to repeat this in Barcelona.”
Timo Scheider was clearly in a confident mood, and looks a strong contender to take Audi’s first win here since 2006.
“The current standings in the championship put us in a good position for the next round at Barcelona – particularly as we've got a weight advantage of ten kilograms. For me, this means continuing to score lots of points, using my head and trying even harder than before to grab as many points as possible in the last three races without taking excessive risks.”
Meanwhile in the Teams Championship, the race for First place is much closer, with only two points seperating Red Bull Audi and Salzgitter Mercedes. EkstrÃ¶m and Martin Tomczyk have been making up ground on the Mercedes duo of Paffett and Bruno Spengler since Oschersleben and took the lead at Brands Hatch. The other works Audi squad, Team Abt is not far behind the leading duo either, and without Tom Kristensen‘s bad luck with racing incidents this season, would probably have been leading the title race coming to Barcelona.
This race will make or break Mercedes’ hopes of winning this year’s title, and Audi’s weight advantage this weekend will make it an uphill struggle for them. Tomczyk was the last Audi winner here, and Schieder will be hoping he can help him keep the quartet of Mercedes C-Classes behind him.