Record run ends after twelve victories: Frijns third at Lausitzring

“Unfortunately, I still have to wait for my first DTM victory,” said Frijns after taking third with a pass shortly before the finish. “It was definitely a crazy race. I started from pole and had the feeling that the pace was pretty okay. René (Rast) and Nico (Müller) behind me had a similar pace. All three of us pitted for tires quite late. When I came out again, I was only seventh. It was extremely difficult to fight my way back to the front.”

Just behind Frijns, Jamie Green from Audi Sport Team Rosberg crossed the finish line in fourth. “I stopped pretty early and was able to build a good gap afterwards,” said Green. “As the leader you are not allowed to use Push-to-Pass or DRS. That’s why Timo Glock and Lucas Auer caught me and finally passed me. Afterwards, I was able to keep up well with the two BMWs, but I didn’t want to try a crazy move in the end. While trying to overtake Timo Glock, I came out of the last corner badly and Robin caught me. A pity, because a podium would have been great today.”

In a similar move, championship leader Nico Müller took fifth away from defending champion René Rast on the finish straight. Just 0.011 seconds separated the two title rivals – 78 thousandths less than in their photo finish a week ago.

“This was a very strange race,” said Nico Müller. “At first, I didn’t understand what we did wrong. We stopped late and lost places as a result. But that’s normal. The only strange thing was that we couldn’t make up the positions this time despite the fresher tires. Everyone defended themselves with DRS. That’s why we lost the chance to catch up with the two BMWs in front. When René had no more DRS, I overtook him basically at the finish line. That was my only highlight. Until the pitstop, I thought that we would fight for victory today again. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.”

René Rast drew a similar conclusion: “In the fight between Robin, Nico and me we probably concentrated too much on ourselves and overlooked that the BMWs were pitting quite early, managing an undercut. That’s a bit of a shame because Nico, Robin and I could have all won the race today.”

René Rast wins in Audi podium sweep at Lausitzring

A change of weather conditions at the Lausitzring: After last weekend’s hot races and extremely high temperatures on Friday, it started to rain on Saturday shortly before qualifying. Championship leader Nico Müller clinched his first pole position of the season on the wet track ahead of René Rast, Robin Frijns and Mike Rockenfeller (Audi Sport Team Phoenix).

Müller held a commanding lead in the early stages of the race on wet weather tires but lost his lead after pitting for slicks too late. Having dropped back to fifth, the leader of the standings was able to fight his way back to second.

René Rast’s race went the other way around. “My start was very bad, and I went through the gravel at one stage,” said the defending champion. “It was crucial to pit at the right time and then take a risk. I was able to overtake Philipp (Eng), Marco (Wittmann) and finally Robin (Frijns) with good moves. I used push-to-pass and DRS at the right moments. In the end I was able to defend my lead over Nico.”

Müller set the best time in both free practice sessions on Friday and also recorded the fastest race lap. “We had the fastest car here so far in all conditions but did not manage to win,” said the Swiss. “Nobody is really to blame for that. We simply came to the pits one or two laps too late – also because I slightly misjudged the situation in the car. On the positive side: I was able to control the race in the rain at the beginning and was fast on slicks as well. And we scored a lot of points again.”

Audi driver Robin Frijns: “I’m optimistic to celebrate my first DTM victory soon”

How important is the support of your family and friends during this intensive time?
It helps me a lot. Not only during all of the race weekends, but in general. At the end of the day, I’m just a normal guy who enjoys normal things in life. For example, to have lunch at my favorite restaurant without thinking too much about work all the time. It doesn’t matter if with my family, my friends or with my girlfriend. It is always nice to have them around.

Your girlfriend also works for Abt Sportsline. Does it make you feel less homesick?
I really enjoy also having her close around me at the race tracks, of course, but even though we work for the same team at the same events, we don’t see each other a lot. She has her work, I have mine, and we both focus on our own jobs at the track. It is a completely different environment. In general, I’m really happy with how we are managing our professional and private lives.

During your Facebook Live interview on Audi Sport last Saturday, you talked about charity. What is your motivation to get involved socially?
I am always happy to help when I can, especially when it comes to children. I would also like to have a family one day. The most important thing for parents is to see their children growing up with joy. I’m lucky enough to be able to live the life that I’ve always dreamed of. At the same time, I also know that others are not so lucky. It makes you realize there are things more important in life than racing.

During the interview, you also introduced your loyal travel companion. What’s the story behind it?
A few years ago, the son of a friend of mine fell seriously ill. I tried to help and got involved with the charity called “Groot Hart”, which means “big heart,” for the first time. I knew that he was a racing fan. So, I invited him for a ride at Zandvoort, sitting next to me in a Radical SR3. I just tried to give him a good time. Unfortunately, he passed away six months later. Since then, I’ve always taken the teddy bear that he gave me with me to the race weekends.

Looking back on the first of two race weekends at the Lausitzring, how do you reflect on the battles with your Audi DTM teammate René Rast during Sunday’s race?
It was hard racing, no question about it. I think it could have turned out easier for both of us. But obviously, we didn’t come up with a common game plan beforehand. I thought that he would let me by again when I was quicker. After the race, the schedule was so tight that we have not had the chance to speak yet. But, maybe, we will find the time before the next race.

This coming weekend, the DTM will race at the longer Lausitzring track layout. How is it different from the sprint circuit?
In terms of the set-up, both tracks are kind of similar. But, we have to improve our long runs, as I mentioned before. In general, the Lausitzring is not my favorite circuit, because it is a low grip track and doesn’t give me a lot of feedback about what is happening to the car. I like the longer layout more, because it offers more overtaking opportunities with two more straights. And turn six is luckily different. On the sprint circuit it is quite bumpy there – which doesn’t suit my driving style very well. Now, with the longer straight after turn five, there is a good overtaking opportunity there. We will also have fewer laps and because of that tire degradation is going to be a bit less. Basically, you are going through fewer corners during the race and the tires have a bit more time to cool down on the straights – if the weather plays along.

What is your goal for the races?
I was quite surprised that we put the car on pole for both races last weekend. Our goal is to be competitive again and to keep on scoring championship points. We already had the chance to win and I think those opportunities will come again throughout the season. Hopefully already next weekend.

Audi with twelve experienced drivers at the Nürburgring 24 Hours

A total of twelve experienced professional drivers who compete for Audi in DTM, Formula E and customer racing share the three cockpits. Nine of them have already won the world’s biggest car race with the R8 LMS. The race has a track length of 25.378 kilometers and about 150 participants every year. Markus Winkelhock is the most successful of them with three victories. As in 2019 he shares the work with two-time winner Christopher Haase in the Audi Sport Team Car Collection. In addition, new signing Mirko Bortolotti and DTM driver Robin Frijns are also on board. Peter Schmidt’s outfit was an Audi Sport Team in the Eifel race for the first time last year and immediately finished third.

Audi Sport Team Land won the Nürburgring 24 Hours for Audi in 2017. This year, the squad of Wolfgang and Christian Land will compete with DTM Champion René Rast and Kelvin van der Linde. Each of them has already won the race once. They alternate in the cockpit with two-time winner Christopher Mies as well as junior driver Mattia Drudi.

Audi Sport Team Phoenix, based in Meuspath within sight of the Nürburgring, has already triumphed five times at its home race, including three times with Audi – most recently in 2019. With two-time winner Frank Stippler as well as Dries Vanthoor and Frédéric Vervisch, team boss Ernst Moser has three of last year’s four winners on board. Nico Müller, 2019 DTM runner-up and 2015 winner of the Nürburgring 24 Hours, completes the driver quartet.

The Audi Sport Teams at the Nürburgring 24 Hours

Audi Sport Team Car Collection

Mirko Bortolotti/Robin Frijns/Christopher Haase/Markus Winkelhock (I/NL/D/D)

Audi Sport Team Land

Mattia Drudi/Kelvin van der Linde/Christopher Mies/René Rast (I/ZA/D/D)

Audi Sport Team Phoenix

Nico Müller/Frank Stippler/Dries Vanthoor/Frédéric Vervisch (CH/D/B/B)

Four victories for the Audi RS 3 LMS

Audi R8 LMS GT3

Two more podium places in Germany: A catch-up race secured last year’s champions and Audi Sport drivers Kelvin van der Linde/Patric Niederhauser the first podium result of the season in the ADAC GT Masters on the second weekend. The Swiss Niederhauser started the race at the Nürburgring and handed over the cockpit of his Audi R8 LMS in the middle of the race when he was eighth. Then van der Linde started to catch up and only fought his way to the podium in third place on the final lap. For the second race, the South African secured first place on the grid and thus the Pirelli Pole Position Award, which was presented for the first time. Despite the fastest race lap, van der Linde/Niederhauser had to settle for tenth place due to a drive-through penalty. Dries Vanthoor, however, was another Audi Sport driver on the podium. The Belgian had started from second place with his compatriot Charles Weerts and finished second. Weerts thus also won the Pirelli Junior classification. The victories in the Pirelli Trophy classification, in which professionals are excluded, went to Audi privateers in both rounds, too. Filip Salaquarda from Team ISR won the prize on Saturday, WRT driver Rolf Ineichen on Sunday. Best in points in this classification is Elia Erhart from Team EFP Car Collection by Tece who is another private Audi driver. A total of 15 Audi R8 LMS cars from eight teams competed in the Eifel – more GT3 sports cars with the four rings on the bonnet than ever before in this racing series.

Coming up next week

20–23/08 Le Castellet (F), rounds 3 and 4, GT Cup Open Europe 

21–23/08 Lausitzring (D), rounds 1 and 2, GTC Race

21–23/08 Le Castellet (F), rounds 1 and 2, TCR Europe

21–23/08 Nogaro (F), rounds 1 and 2, GT4 France

21–23/08 Lausitzring (D), rounds 3 and 4, DTM Trophy

21–23/08 Virginia (USA), round 4, IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge

21–23/08 Virginia (USA), round 5, IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship

22–23/08 Slovakiaring (SK), rounds 3 and 4, TCR Eastern Europe

22–23/08 Slovakiaring (SK), rounds 3 and 4, Eset V4 Cup

22–23/08 Slovakiaring (SK), rounds 5 and 6, FIA CEZ

22–23/08 Moscow Raceway (RU), rounds 7 and 8, TCR Russia

22–23/08 Suzuka (J), round 3, Super GT