Timo Scheider saved some of Audi's blushes at the end of the third round of the 2007 DTM campaign at the Eurospeedway Lausitz last weekend, with a fifth-place finish that prevented a near-whitewash for rival Mercedes.
The 28-year-old – promoted to 2007 machinery for his seventh season in the DTM – was the only Ingolstadt pilot in the points on Sunday, as the three-pointed star thoroughly dominated the results sheet. Mercedes was aided somewhat, however, by a brace of shambolic safety car periods that saw a number of drivers – predominantly from the Audi fold – lose a lap in the ensuing confusion. That was a situation that was far from lost on Scheider.
“I was no longer able to see what was going on in the race,” the German explained. “In the meantime I got angry because I wasn't allowed to pit. Then I was allowed to pit, but I didn't understand why.
“After that, I thought I was in a hopeless position and, in the end, finished fifth despite all this. What a chaotic situation! My thanks to the squad for keeping a handle on what was happening.”
Those who lost out most in the débâcle, though, were undoubtedly erstwhile joint championship leaders Martin Tomczyk and Mattias Ekström, who ultimately took the chequered flag nose-to-tail and outside the points in ninth and tenth positions respectively. After sandwiching Scheider on the grid, both ran strongly with the Swede even getting as high as fourth place before all the confusion reigned.
“That was absolutely not our race!” 2004 champion Ekström lamented afterwards. “There were several misunderstandings because our team radio wasn't working properly, and the race was very crazy. I'm deeply disappointed not to have scored any points.”
“It was a chaotic race,” concurred Red Bull team-mate Tomczyk. “After crossing the finish line nobody knew what had been going on. I drove my race and my car was very good. The result is irrelevant for me.”
The net result is that the pair have slipped to eight points adrift of Eurospeedway runner-up and new championship leader Paul di Resta, while Scheider falls back to seventh in the drivers' title chase. Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich vowed to make amends in the next round held on British soil, at Brands Hatch on 10 June.
“Of course the way the race went, as well as the result, weren't to our liking,” he acknowledged. “The unfortunate events surrounding the deployment of the safety car completely distorted the picture. In the interest of sport, we have accepted the stewards' decision to count the race with this particular result, and congratulate Mika Häkkinen on his second DTM victory.
“Despite their additional weight, though, our 2007-spec cars were consistently fast. This gives us every reason to be hopeful for Brands Hatch. There, we're going to strike back.”