24 June 2009
Audi chases Norisring win for 100th anniversary?
The Audi brand celebrates its 100th birthday in July, so what could be more appropriate than recording the marque's 50th DTM victory to kick-start the anniversary celebrations, particularly as the success could come at the Norisring, Audi's 'home' race.
An Audi has won on 49 occasions in the DTM up to now but has struggled slightly at the Nuremberg street track, where it has managed only three victories. Hans-Joachim Stuck won twice with the awesome V8 quattro in 1990 and '91 but, in the modern era, only Laurent Aiello has tasted Norisring success – and his triumph during the 2002 season is now seven years ago.
The Frenchman's win came with the old TT-based model so, after six successive Mercedes' wins, any Audi success on 28 June would also be the first for the A4 DTM, but, while the short 2.3km track favours top speed, traction and good brakes are required, the current Audi is trimmed specifically for aerodynamic efficiency and downforce required at the majority of DTM venues as the marque keeps both eyes on the bigger prize.
"The Norisring is always a very special race for Audi since it is more or less viewed as a home race due to its close proximity to Ingolstadt," head of motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich admitted, "We have once again planned to finally bring home a result at the Norisring - which, translated, means 'we really want to win there'.
"Of course, we know it won't be easy. Our car concept is laid out primarily for aerodynamic efficiency and downforce – these are factors which are, like at EuroSpeedway, not of importance at the Norisring. Nevertheless, as in the previous years we have prepared ourselves specifically for the Norisring. I hope that we can score a good result there now."
Last year, only 2.191secs separated Audi from victory after 74 laps, while the fastest A4 DTM race lap was only 0.060secs slower than the fastest Mercedes, giving the entire squad a little more optimism, especially as the 'R14 plus' iteration of the car has a superior Cd value and is faster on the straights. Furthermore, Audi Sport simulated the peculiarities of the Franconian track at an airfield before the race, allowing reigning champion - and best-placed Audi driver at last year's Norisring race -
Timo Scheider to dream about reclaiming the top step for Ingolstadt.
"I'm looking forward to the highlight of the season, even though it is unusually early," the German commented, "It's about time that Norisring was in the hands of Audi again. It is, after all, a home race for Audi which, nevertheless, was always very difficult for us over the last few years. But we were very good last year and were able to put the leading Mercedes under a lot of pressure towards the end of the race, so I hope that we can still improve things this year."
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