Thursday 26 April 2012

Audi A5 DTM ready to start from the grid

Audi A5 DTM ready to start from the grid

􀀁 The 2012 DTM starts at Hockenheim on Sunday
􀀁 First race for AUDI AG’s new DTM car
􀀁 Timo Scheider: “The start poses a challenge again and again”

Ingolstadt, April 26, 2012 – The time has come: The 26th DTM season starts at
the Hockenheimring on Sunday. For the new Audi A5 DTM and its competitors,
the start can be decisive. The two-time DTM Champion Timo Scheider talks about
the art of starting in the DTM.
2 p.m. on Sunday: The start is arguably the most thrilling moment of any DTM
weekend. The fans in the stands watch with bated breath while millions of TV
viewers are just as glued to the screens as the crews in the pits are. And the pulse of
the drivers in the cockpits of the DTM vehicles rises to as much as 160 beats per
minute when the red starting lights come on.
The start can decide a DTM race. It can ruin the advantage of a pole position,
prepared for in practice sessions and achieved in qualifying, in merely fractions of a
second, or it may give a driver what may prove to be the crucial lead while heading
for the first turn. “The start poses a new challenge again and again, and it produces
a huge adrenaline surge,” says the two-time DTM Champion Timo Scheider. “You can
never predict what will actually happen. The start may be superb or catastrophic.
With a perfect start you can make up a lot of ground from a poor position – or lose
everything from a good place on the grid. That’s why ‘practice, practice, practice’ is
the word. And even then mistakes will happen. I think that even though I may be
driving for many, many more years the tension at the start will always be there.”
If everything goes off perfectly, an Audi A5 DTM accelerates in less than three
seconds from rest to 100 km/h. To make this happen, the process is practiced over
and over. During winter track tests as well as in starting practice sessions at the end
of the pit lane on DTM weekends.
Audi has perfected the technique of starting over the past few years – despite very
restrictive regulations, which exclude almost all technical aids that would simplify
the starting process. Perfectly functioning technology is a basic prerequisite
nonetheless. On the way toward his champion’s title last year Martin Tomczyk, for
example, had a new clutch installed before each race – this was the only way he felt
he could be sure to have exactly the right feeling for the sensitive technology.
The starting procedure is complex and demands a lot of intuition and full
concentration on the driver’s part. It starts by precisely positioning the car within
the markings provided on the track. The vehicle engineer assists in this by radio. The
driver then activates the handbrake – not by using a lever behind the steering wheel
as was the case with the predecessor model, the A4 DTM, but by pushing a button
on the steering wheel.
Once the brake circuit is closed the driver can put the car into first gear and slowly
release the clutch. “Preloading” is the word DTM drivers use for this action. And
preloading typically takes place when the first red starting light comes on. “At some
point you feel by the drop in engine speed or the squatting of the car that the clutch
is slowly starting to engage,” says Timo Scheider. “That’s when we have to depress
the gas pedal a bit more to keep from stalling the engine and then maintain the
position of the gas and clutch pedals. When the third red light goes on I start to
build up the right rpm. You’ve got to be sure not to do this too early though. The
tricky part about it is that you never know how long the light system will take to
switch from red to off.”
At the first moment of driving off, the driver merely releases the handbrake button.
The positions of the feet on the gas and clutch pedals remain unchanged for the
first few meters in order to drive off with as little wheel spin as possible. “Only from
a speed of 50, 60, 70 km/h on, depending on the grip conditions of the track, you
completely let go of the clutch and accelerate as hard as you possibly can,” reveals
the seasoned DTM campaigner. “After that, it’s all about defending your position or
finding the right gap. You intuitively shift through the gears. I only notice the
shifting lamps on the fringes.”
Sometimes the DTM Champion would like to have the launch control system the
sporty Audi models with S tronic transmissions are equipped with, which makes
driving off from a traffic light an almost fully automatic event with perfect
acceleration. “Especially when you’re on pole the pressure of not losing your top
spot is very high,” Scheider says, speaking from experience. “I’ve also been the
victim of wanting too much on occasion so that I’d stall the engine during
preloading – or had too much wheelspin.” So, the human factor remains the one
that ultimately makes the difference at a DTM start.

Tickets for the 2012 DTM are available at the Audi Ticket Shop on the internet at The ARD will cover the race live from 13:40 hrs (local time) on
Audi Sport.

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