Alex Premat was forced to fly the Audi flag alone in the latter stage of qualifying for the third round of the DTM at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz on a day where the car to have was most certainly a Mercedes.
Returning to the seat of his Team Phoenix A4 for the first time since his massive smash at the Hockenheim season-opener, Premat showed no ill effects from the torn lumbar vertebrae he suffered in the crash to claim sixth position on the grid.
However, the Frenchman was the only Audi driver to feature in the 'top-eight shootout' after Mercedes dominated proceedings. Although Premat was pleased with his leading status, he nonetheless admitted he could have gone quicker.
"I'm very happy for Audi to have clinched sixth place in qualifying. But I'm a little disappointed about having made a few mistakes that cost me two, three tenths of a second. Otherwise, I could have even achieved a place further towards the front. I'm strictly surrounded by Mercedes drivers. That's a real challenge! I want to have a good start and finish in the points.”
Inevitably, Audi Motorsport Director Dr Wolfgang Ullrich had hoped Audi would be able to take more of a fight to their rivals, although he had interestingly predicted the resistance to have come from the 2006-spec car driven by Premat, Mike Rockenfeller, Lucas Luhr and Christian Abt, rather than the works prepared 2007 Abt machines.
"It's disappointing to have only one car among the top eight,” said Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “Although we knew it would be very difficult here for our 2007-spec cars, we had been hoping to achieve better places with our cars from 2006.
“Alex (Prémat) has shown what is possible with such a car. We need to take a look at why the differences between the 2006-spec cars were so great. Now the only thing we can do in the race is to pursue the strategy of scoring as many points as possible. That's what we have to prepare for.”