1 January 1901
‘Rocky` aiming to roll with the punches.
Audi's new DTM sensation Mike Rockenfeller is returning to familiar territory this weekend as the DTM circus arrives at the Eurospeedway Lausitz – and he is aiming to make it two podium finishes in a row.
The young German claimed third place last time out at Oschersleben behind the wheel of his 2006-spec Audi A4, and not only is Lausitz a circuit he knows well, it is also one that has looked kindly upon Audi drivers in years gone-by, with two victories in the last three years and five rostrum appearances for the Ingolstadt marque since the inaugural race held there back in 2001.
“I already know the Eurospeedway Lausitz like the back of my hand,” the 23-year-old stated. “I have competed in several racing series there. The new first corner is the only unknown factor, but it's the same for everybody. We are all highly motivated after the boost in Oschersleben and will attempt to bring home a similar result.”
The East German track has undergone a number of alterations since the DTM last visited in April, 2006. Rockenfeller believes these will aid overtaking opportunities, and make for fast and frenetic action come the race.
“The Eurospeedway Lausitz is a state-of-the-art facility that reminds me of the circuits in the USA,” the American Le Mans Series convert explained. “The high standards of such circuits are impressive. It starts with the buildings, onto the spacious pit facilities and the safety precautions. This facility is very comfortable for drivers, teams and spectators alike.
“The circuit version of the Eurospeedway used by the DTM cars is a combination of several parts of the oval and the infield track section lying within the boundary of the oval. You don't really notice much of the classic fast-banked curves of an oval. Other sections of the track are much more interesting.
“The 180 degree right-handed corner in the infield is particularly demanding. It is long and very fast. Here you need an exceptionally stable car, whose limit is very easy to feel in this corner. The rest of the corners in the infield section are slow and technical. They require a very smooth driving style.
“The corner before the start-finish straight is tricky. You have to exit the infield onto the oval extremely smoothly to be able to accelerate early enough. A relatively fast s-bend used to follow at the end of the straight. Since the circuit has been modified we now have to deal with a very tight left-hand corner, which actually resembles a hairpin. Hard braking and out-braking manoeuvres will therefore be the norm.”
Fellow Audi ace Christian Abt, meanwhile, is simply looking to get his season off the mark this weekend, following two fruitless outings in the opening two encounters despite a top ten qualifying performance in round two.
“Unfortunately we came away empty-handed from Hockenheim and Oschersleben,” the 39-year-old lamented, “even though we had good chances. The conditions for the Eurospeedway are even better. Points should finally be on the cards there – I'm really looking forward to the race.”
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