Following on from the news that Team Phoenix‘s Mike Rockenfeller will step into the seat of the new RS5 DTM for his title defence in 2014, he will also be joined by fellow DTM Champions Mattias Ekstrom and Timo Schieder, who continue their lengthy association with the brand with the four rings in 2014.
With five titles between them, it brings a strong foundation towards the brand’s upcoming title defences for the forthcoming season. Audi Sport’s Head of DTM, Dieter Gass, announced in Ingolstadt the other day at the 2013 Audi Sport Finale that a new version of the RS5 DTM will be used next season. This will be the basis for the assault against BMW Motorsport‘s new M4 DTM and a potentially-updated Mercedes C-Class Coupe on the cards.
The 35-year-old Swedish driver, who along with Scheider has won two titles with Ingolstadt, also admitted to TCF at Zandvoort this September past that he had several options, but has decided to stay at the outfit that he has been a part of since Audi’s initially involvement in the DTM in 2001 via the independent outfit run by Abt.
The drivers altogether have five titles, thirty-two pole positions and 25 wins between them, as Gass explained that such a strong foundation was required to continue the run of form thus far in the DTM: “Having three drivers in the squad who know how to win in the DTM gives us a good feeling. And the other five cockpits will be filled with strong drivers too.”
Ekstrom himself describes Audi Sport as being his “second home,” as he looks forward to working hard to getting results at the top of the field: “I’m fully motivated to battle for victories and Championship titles for Audi again in 2014.”
The German ace, who originally joined the DTM with Opel, made the jump to Audi in 2006, becoming the only back-to-back title winner for the brand in 2008 and 2009. The ex-Formula 3 driver said that he was happy to continue the partnership with Ingolstadt, which now heads into its ninth season: “It’s been my wish to keep driving for Audi and it’s a nice feeling to continue to enjoy the brand’s trust after so many years. I’m hoping for us to have many more successful years together.”
Dr. Ullrich also helped to emphasise the importance of having “important pillars” in the form of the three champion drivers, who also have a great following in the series itself: “I’m delighted that, alongside title defender Mike Rockenfeller, our two most successful DTM drivers also continue to be on board. They’re great guys, strong personalities, popular with the fans and perfect ambassadors for the four rings.“
BMW is the only squad that has unveiled their completed line-up for the 2014 Chanpionship, with Audi Sport having been delayed with the retirement of former DTM and WEC driver Allan McNish, which took many by surprise. Mercedes-Benz‘s line-up is also unclear as of yet, as it seems that Gary Paffett, according to AUTOSPORT, is the only secure driver in Stuttgart’s line-up for next season.
So we still anticipate as to just who will be racing for Ingolstadt and Stuttgart next year, as some of the seats could see some changes for whether it is a 22 or 24-car grid come May.