Audi Sport impressed at DTM Young Driver test

by Vince Pettit

Audi Sport took seven drivers to the 2018 DTM Young Driver test at Jerez this week as they got their hands on the 2018 spec Audi RS 5 DTM car.

Audi Sport Team Rosberg and Audi DTM customer team WRT provided a car each as they completed a total of 1,457 kilometers of testing.

Jonathan Aberdein, Andreas Bakkerud, Mattia Drudi, Sacha Fenestraz, Sergey Sirotkin, Benoît Tréluyer, and Frédéric Vervisch all had the opportunity to try out the 2018 car with Aberdein completing the most laps (220) over the three days of testing with Jamie Green on hand to provide a benchmark to the drivers.

Mike Rockenfeller and Nico Müller were also present at the test as they worked on the 2019 car with a test version of the new Audi RS 5 DTM. Rockenfeller completed the bulk of the driving with 211 laps over two days while Müller completed 118 laps on the final day, putting the new two-litre four-cylinder turbo engine through its paces.

“This was another very good test for Audi Sport here at Jerez,” said Project Leader Andreas Roos. “All seven drivers did a very good job in our Audi RS 5 DTM.

“I was particularly pleased to see how excited they obviously were. Even someone like Sergey (Sirotkin) with Formula One experience under his belt had a grin on his face afterwards. With our test vehicle we were able to check off a lot of items on our test program list.

“We drove a total of 1,457 kilometers on these three days, and largely did so without any issues. Now we’re going to use the rather long winter break to analyse the data before we’ll return to Jerez in March for the next official pre-season DTM test.”

Credit: Audi Communications Motorsport / Malte Christians

Talking after the test, single-seater racer Jonathan Aberdein was impressed with the performance of the car considering the large size, “Driving the Audi RS 5 DTM on a race track was an elating experience. I’m simply thankful for the opportunity to test the car here at Jerez.

“The days really flew by. I was amazed about how much performance the car delivers considering its size. I’ve only driven single-seaters before that don’t have a roof and definitely not such a large cockpit, so the view of the track was a little unusual at first.”

Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup regular Mattia Drudi also relished the opportunity as he completed 50 laps, “The DTM, for me, is the highest level in touring car racing. The opportunity to test the Audi RS 5 DTM has been the most important moment in my career so far.

“To be honest, I was initially a little intimidated by the size of the team but then was soon very excited about working in such a professional environment.

“I wasn’t able to stop grinning on the first three, four laps. This awesome power when you step on the gas pedal, plus the cornering speeds – a very special experience.”

24 hours of Le Mans winner, and oldest driver of the rookies Benoît Tréluyer completed 70 laps as he compared the car to Super GT and LMP cars he has driven in the past.

“The test here at Jerez reminded me of my days in the Super GT and also of the LMP prototypes: lots of downforce and high speed in the turns.

“I’ve driven the RS 5 DTM once before for taxi rides, but that doesn’t compare with this on any level. Fine-tuning the setup and improving my driving style lap by lap was incredible fun again.

“Although I wouldn’t have expected anything else based on past experience: thanks again to Audi Sport and Team Rosberg for the perfect organisation.”

Formula 3 race winner Sacha Fenestraz enjoyed 57 laps of Jerez as he had his first taste of DTM action, despite contact with a barrier during the test.

“I hadn’t expected the DTM race cars to be so incredibly fast. My stints went really well, except for the slip shortly before the end of the test when I got off track and hit the barrier.

“Nothing happened to me but of course it bothered me that the car was damaged in the incident. Even so, it was a unique experience for me.”

GT racer Frédéric Vervisch couldn’t wait to get his hands on the RS 5 DTM car prior to the test and the expectation lived up to his hopes as he completed 47 laps, “It was a long-awaited premiere for me; I’ve always wanted to drive a DTM car.

“Other drivers had told me before that the touring cars generate a lot of downforce – I can now confirm that. For me personally, that was the biggest change compared to a GT3 sports car or a TCR front-wheel-drive car.

“Chasing through the turns in the RS 5 DTM is really exciting. However, directly finding the limit wasn’t easy because you hardly notice the downforce in steering performance.”

Rallycross star Andreas Bakkerud completed a total of 59 laps while former Formula 1 driver Sergey Sirotkin took the chance to record 91 laps.

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