Thursday 14 April 2011

DTM countdown: Proven technology, new tires

DTM countdown: Proven technology,
new tires

• Only two weeks before the DTM opener
• Million seller Audi A4 also successful on the race track
• A4 DTM runs for first time on Hankook tires

Ingolstadt, April 14, 2011 – While Audi produced the fifth million A4 several days
ago, the new season begins for its victorious brother in racing. At Hockenheim on
May 1 the A4 DTM rolls to the grid with proven technology, but with new tires.
2011 is the fourth and final year of racing for the current A4 DTM originally
developed by Audi Sport for the 2008 season under the project name “R14.” The car
evolved to become the “R14 plus” in 2009 after a technical update. Both model
versions are in action again this year, since DTM car technology is frozen since
August 2009. Further developments are prohibited.

While Audi Sport works feverishly in Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm on the internally
labeled “R17” successor complying with the new regulations valid from 2012, the
technicians face a completely different challenge for the 2011 season: They have to
adapt the A4 as well as possible to the tires of new DTM exclusive supplier Hankook,
without being able to change the car’s basic technology.

Audi suffered painfully last season through the significance of the tire’s impact in
the DTM. The new design of the former supplier did not harmonize with the A4 DTM.
The Audi drivers complained about the lack of “feedback” from the front axle and
the rear tires could not be stressed as in the previous years. “Our hands were tied
since the technology is frozen,” remembers Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang
Ullrich uneasily of the 2010 season in which Audi could only win two races after
taking three successive DTM championship titles.

The Audi Sport technicians were justifiably sensitive when in the DTM – just like in
Formula 1 – a change of tire supplier appeared on the agenda. During joint
development tests with the new Korean partner, the primary aim of all parties
involved was to configure a tire for the 2011 season which disadvantaged none of
the competing manufacturers – despite the technology freeze.

Previous test results appear to confirm this goal. “We have to applaud Hankook,”
says Mattias Ekström, DTM Champion in 2004 and 2007. “The company has
designed and produced a tire for the first time for demanding DTM race cars like our
A4 DTM. The tire works very well. Hankook deserve a big compliment.”
Ekström gives good grades for both a fast lap and race distance: “The tire functions
immediately on the first lap in qualifying. In the race we expect excellent durability,
which is why in my opinion the races will be even more exciting. I think the field will
stay much closer together for much longer.

As before in the DTM there is only one tire type for dry conditions, the so-called
“slicks”, and another type for rain. During the pre-season tests the main goal for the
Audi Sport teams Abt Sportsline, Phoenix and Rosberg was to develop the best
possible set-up for qualifying and the race with the new tire – because in view of the
extremely close levels of performance in the DTM optimal use of the tire is the key
to success.

A stony silence exists among the teams and Audi Sport regarding the knowledge
gained over the last few months. Nobody is willing to show their hand before the
season starts. Only so much: “You have to set the car up differently and adapt your
driving style,” says Mattias Ekström. “I’ve managed this very well up to now.”
His team mates’ assessments are similar. If they prove correct then the DTM fans
can look forward to an exciting and close season in which the tires form the
foundation for close competition.

Audi Communications Motorsport.

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