Great fighting spirit, a significant step forward compared to the previous day and an excellent race strategy – Audi Sport Team Phoenix had all the ingredients for a successful weekend in Zandvoort. However, the team just didn’t have luck on their side to get both cars into the top 10.
“Finishing in 15th and 16th is a major disappointment for us,” said Team Principal Ernst Moser after the race. “Our race finish didn’t reflect our potential today. We had been raising the bar all weekend and could have taken an important points haul.”
Rocky back to his former strength
After a superb qualifying session, Mike Rockenfeller showed that he would be a man to be reckoned with in Sunday’s race. The 2013 DTM champion set the sixth-fastest time of the session with a 1:30.876, putting his Audi RS 5 DTM on the third row of the grid.
The race also seemed to be going to plan for the 34-year-old. After a strong start, the team decided to bring Rocky in for a change of tyres after five laps of the race. The early pit-stop really paid off, allowing the Audi driver to make up valuable time and positions. Rocky’s duel with Daniel Juncadella and Bruno Spengler proved to be one of the highlights of the race, with the Phoenix driver coming out on top.
Back to square one: safety car in the final third of the race
After 23 laps of exciting racing action, the fight for the top position was reset. A safety car period squeezed the field back together and shuffled the pack once again. Running in fifth up until that point, Mike Rockenfeller was looking to defend his position from the drivers behind. However, a flat tyre forced him into the pits just a few laps later and hopes of a points finish vanished.
In spite of a promising strategy, there wasn’t much to cheer about for Loïc Duval either. The Frenchman pitted for new tyres straight after the safety car period and would have been in an excellent position for the final sprint to the flag. “It was great timing for the stop,” said Duval, who was in 11th position after the safety car period. “I would have had a brilliant chance to gain some positions with my new tyres. But at the restart I was fighting with some other drivers and had to pit again.”
The next opportunity for Audi Sport Team Phoenix to score points comes on 11 and 12 August when the international touring car championship begins the second half of the season at Brands Hatch in the UK.