Reigning DTM manufacturers’ champion Audi cannot explain how it went from the fringes of the top 10 to finishing on the podium in the season-opening Hockenheim races.
Audi battled oversteer and tyre degradation problems at Hockenheim and defending champion Rene Rast then had a scrappy first race to finish ninth, and was one of only two Audis in the top 10.
That prompted Audi to suggest its pre-season concerns with the new rules, specifically the loss of its aerodynamic advantage, had been proven true.
While it did not experiment with set-up on its stronger RS5 DTM cars, such as Rast’s, it made wholesale changes to the Audis at the rear of the field in the opener.
But Rast then qualified on the front row on Sunday, and Mike Rockenfeller completed a surprise turnaround with an opportunistic second place that left Audi baffled.
“We didn’t experiment on every car, just a few cars and other drivers stayed on very much the same set-up they had on Saturday,” Audi DTM boss Dieter Gass told Autosport.
“[It was] just the normal fine-tuning I would say you do between Saturday and Sunday, and they were the drivers who ended up [at the] front.
“It’s difficult to understand, Rene was the driver with the least changes on the car and was qualifying in P2 and he had his small mistake in the race which dropped him down the order.
“We were better today [Sunday] and I don’t know why.”
Gass also suggested that cooler temperatures on Sunday may have widened the set-up window and helped Audi’s tyre degradation problems.
“We didn’t expect that [turnaround] at all after yesterday, we thought we would suffer a little bit again today,” said Gass.
“That was not so much the case, we need to admit that there were a few cars on the bottom of the grid and the race result, but at least we had some cars that showed that they can fight at the front as well.”
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