From Wednesday to Friday this week, the DTM tested on the race track at Estoril (Portugal) on which the internationally popular touring car racing series last held a race in 2004. “Unfortunately, the external conditions weren’t exactly optimal,“ says Dieter Gass, Head of DTM at Audi Sport. “On the first and on the last day, we had very strong gusty winds. On the second day, there was intermittent rain. It won’t be easy to draw the right conclusions from the test results. But after the long winter break, it was extremely important for our drivers to get a lot of driving time and to get an idea of the set-up work that was done over the winter months. We’re pleased that our drivers immediately felt comfortable again in the RS 5 DTM and made positive comments about the basic set-up that was worked out in winter.“
All eight Audi drivers participated in the tests on the Portuguese Atlantic coast. Each of the three Audi Sport Teams (Abt Sportsline, Phoenix and Rosberg) had a 2015-specification race car at Estoril, plus there was a test car from Audi Sport that was equipped with additional sensors and measuring instruments shared by Mattias Ekström and Miguel Molina.
“The whole team did a good job in winter,” Timo Scheider, the 2008 and 2009 DTM Champion, said after the test. “This was the first time for me to sit in the RS 5 DTM since the finale at Hockenheim and I immediately felt comfortable. The car is superbly balanced.”
This impression was confirmed by all Audi drivers, who reeled off a total of 1,382 laps and 5,779 kilometers on the three days. Except for a minor slip by Adrien Tambay on Thursday afternoon, the test went without any problems for Audi. In four of the six test sessions, an Audi RS 5 DTM was listed in first place.
The fastest lap of the tests was performed by youngster Nico Müller, who in the Hoffmann Group Audi RS 5 DTM of his team-mate Jamie Green achieved a best time of 1m 32.443s on the last day. “It was great for me to be able to test for two full days,” said the 23-year-old Swiss. “We don’t have a lot of testing opportunities in the DTM. Obviously, the weather hampered our testing program a little. But the items we checked off were positive.”
At Estoril, all Audi drivers worked together with their race engineers for the 2015 season for the first time. New to the Audi DTM squad is the Italian Nicola Palarchi, who supports Adrien Tambay in Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline. Starting this year, his previous engineer, Franco Chiocchetti, will be taking care of Edoardo Mortara’s RS 5 DTM. All other driver-engineer combinations have remained unchanged.