A total of 39,000 spectators throughout the weekend saw Audi make a welcome return to winning ways, securing the first ever 1-2-3 podium sweep in the new era of the DTM, with Edoardo Mortara being the driver to make best of the tricky conditions, winning ahead of both Mike Rockenfeller and Mattias Ekström.
Rain did make its presence known on the formation lap, as well as the latter stages of the race, resulting in drivers making unforeseen errors, but the conditions did not warrant the need for any of the 22-strong field to change to wet tyres. In what has been a renaissance for the Italian driver, he was clearly full of delight about his win, in what was a challenge for all concerned: “It was incredible. I was so motivated and wanted to squeeze out the maximum at all cost. I had a good start and took a few risks on the first laps and when rain was setting in. The outcome could also have been different, though. But the risk paid off and we stayed on track. A one-two-three victory for Audi and my second success for Audi Sport Team Rosberg – for me, a dream has come true today.”
But early dramas notably unfolded for two of the drivers, as both Rahal Frey and Miguel Molina retired from the race by the end of the first lap, with the Spaniard being involved in a first-turn collision with Mercedes-Benz rookie, Robert Wickens, before Frey herself was herself, unable to avoid the Canadian’s car just a few turns later. Molina was clearly disappointed with his early exit, as the track at Zandvoort is to his liking, especially as the overall weekend hadn’t gone that well: “A difficult weekend for me. We didn’t drive a lot in free practice. In qualifying, I missed Q3 by a tenth of a second. In the race, I had a good start and overtook a lot of cars. While braking into turn one I was hit by Wickens and wasn’t able to control the car any longer. Now I’m looking forward to Oschersleben where I was on pole last year.”
Timo Scheider’s weekend was at an all-time high after securing his 4th Pole Position at Zandvoort, but when he lined up on the grid for the race itself, it all came crashing down to a terrible halt, and the two-time champion was forced to retire, summing up the way his season has been so far: “It’s almost as if the situation were jinxed. Even while preloading, I noticed that the clutch closed twice and I wasn’t able to control it. Then the lights went out at the wrong moment and I wasn’t able to recover the engine speed. This caused the engine to stall. Clearly my mistake! Then there was the contact with (David) Coulthard. I lost the hood and the bracket was probably damaged. That’s why it wasn’t possible to properly repair the hood.”
21-year-old rookie Adrien Tambay, was able to use his great race pace to finish a well-deserved 5th place, securing his first points of the season, having kept BMW’s Bruno Spengler at bay. The young Frenchman was clearly beside himself with joy, celebrating a breakthrough in his debut season, and thanking those that have helped him: “A tremendous ending of my Zandvoort weekend. After fierce battles, we finished in fifth place. A superb result! I really want to thank my team that placed its trust in me. Now I’ve finally finished in the points. I’m looking ahead toward the last races with great expectations now.”
“A fantastic result with Audi drivers on the podium. I’m very happy. I’d like to thank Audi Sport very much for the work that was done in the past few months,” were the words provided by Arno Senzen, Team Rosberg‘s Team Director, whose driver won today’s race, showing that the Audi Family does work together to achieve a common goal, even though all drivers are trying to get the best result possible.
Head of Audi Motorsport, Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich was extremely happy, as well as suitably impressed with the way that Audi has been able to fight its way back into the title fight, as it was a welcome return to the top step for all: “We started at the very front with five cars and scored a one-two-three victory – that’s a really great result for Audi. It’s good to see that all three teams have a driver on the podium and that we managed to show a strong team performance in the difficult and changeable conditions. I want to thank the whole team that has been working hard to make the cars run so well, in the manner for which Audi is known.”
So as there is now a three week respite between now and Round 8 at Oschersleben, it will be interesting how much Audi can improve the A5 DTM, so as to increase consistency and performance from all drivers to ensure a fitting end to this season, with Ingolstadt looking to its ranks to bring pride and glory back home.