The picturesque Styrian countryside marks the start of the second half of the 2014 DTM season, as the Ingolstadt manufacturer leads the race for the manufacturer’s crown, with Mattias Ekström being the driver that currently has the best chance of taking the lead away from BMW Motorsport’s Marco Wittmann for the drivers’ title.
The Swede may only be twenty points behind the young upstart, as the Red Bull Ring hosts the sixth round of the championship. Dieter Gass‘ Audi Sport squad may have secured a total of 8 podiums so far over the past five races, but are looking to secure that elusive first win of the year in the new RS5 DTM.
Since the circuit re-opened three years ago, Martin Tomczyk and Edoardo Mortara took to the top step in 2011 and 2012 respectively, but there are others apart from Ekström that will be fighting for the win.
One man that is wanting to get his title defense back on track is defending champion Mike Rockenfeller, who had suffered his worst weekend to date last time out at Moscow Raceway. The 30-year-old will be looking to put past indiscretions behind him and make it count: “Spielberg is a great track on which we’ve seen a lot of thrilling races in the past. The race day at Moscow was obviously a disappointment – but the speed and the work in the team perfectly fit in spite of this. If we continue that in Austria, we’ve got good chances of taking home a trophy.”
His Team Phoenix teammate, two-time champion Timo Scheider, will be competing in what he classes as his ‘second’ home race, due to racing under an Austrian racing licence. The Lochau-based driver has only scored nine points this season and is looking to turn misfortune into success: “I’m very much hoping for my streak of misfortune to finally end there in front of many friends and fans and that I’ll score a decent result.”
Jamie Green, who took another podium at the Norisring, is half way through his 10th season in the DTM, as is looking to get a good result after a bad time out in Russia: “The long straights and some thrilling combinations of turns make Spielberg a very interesting track that’s great fun – also for the spectators because there are good overtaking opportunities. Even though Moscow didn’t go well for me, I feel comfortable and am set on clinching a place on the podium again in Austria.”
Ekström himself is gunning for the top step, even though he has already secured three podiums this year: “The Red Bull Ring should actually be a good track for me, if for no other reason than its name – but I’ve still got some unfinished business with it because I’ve never been on podium there. I feel an increasingly burning desire to hold the biggest trophy and hear the Swedish anthem.”
Gass explained that the focus to go for the win is still of paramount importance this coming weekend, on a track that he feels will suit the RS5 baed on past success in Austria: “We learned our lessons from the less than perfect weekend at Moscow and fully focused on preparing for the start of the second half of the season. Although in the standings we no longer have the concentrated force of the Audi squad in striking distance we’re still in a good position to attack.“
But you can’t discount the pace of the younger drivers in the team, as Mortara, Adrien Tambay, Nico Müller and Miguel Molina are looking to get their own campaigns back on track. The brand with the four rings are looking forward to the challenge of a track that has its fair share of long straights, as well as fast and slow but technical corners. The fans will be in attendance to what could be another sensational race in the DTM.