ABT Sportsline achieves “Spielberg miracle”

“Normally, we don’t stand a chance there, but maybe a miracle will happen this year.” Those were the words of ABT driver Ricardo Feller before the DTM event at the Red Bull Ring. On the Austrian Grand Prix circuit near Spielberg, the Audi R8 LMS has not been competitive in the past. And Audi’s hopes for a fair “Balance of Performance” (BoP), which is supposed to ensure that all participating brands are competitive in the GT3 category, remained unfulfilled.

Accordingly, the Audi R8 LMS GT3 evo II was lacking pace from day one at the Red Bull Ring, where engine power and top speed are what count most. And yet the “Spielberg miracle” became reality: Kelvin van der Linde gave ABT Sportsline its 75th victory and 250th podium in the DTM on Saturday. Ricardo Feller completed the unexpected success for ABT Sportsline with third place. It was the first double podium for the team in the 2023 season and a perfect birthday present for ABT CEO Thomas Biermaier, who received the trophy for the winning team.

The “Spielberg miracle” was made possible by the weather gods and a fantastic team performance. In qualifying, Kelvin van der Linde secured second place on the grid on wet weather tyres. In the race, he initially dropped back a few positions on a wet track. However, his engineer had given him exactly the right tyre pressure to still be fast on a drying track. A perfectly timed, quick pit stop, the decision to switch to scrubbed slicks and spirited overtaking enabled Kelvin van der Linde to take the lead and secure his fifth DTM victory.

Even more incredible was the race of Ricardo Feller, who after a failed tyre poker in qualifying – he had relied on slicks – fought his way up from 26th on the grid to third and celebrated on the podium together with Kelvin van der Linde and Thomas Biermaier.

However, a dry Sunday brought both ABT drivers right back to the current DTM reality. As the best Audi driver, Ricardo Feller secured 13th place on the grid with a huge gap. Saturday’s winner Kelvin van der Linde even had to settle for 17th on the grid and was once again spun around in the first corner during the race. Ricardo Feller had to fight even harder for 15th place and one point than during his recovery race the day before.

“I would have preferred the weekend to be over yesterday,” said ABT Motorsport Director Martin Tomczyk. “On Saturday, we showed what we can achieve as a team in difficult conditions. A very big thank you to the whole team! To the mechanics who made great pit stops. The engineers who set up the cars perfectly for the race. The strategy was also excellent. And, of course the performance of the drivers was sensational. Everything was just right. Unfortunately, Sunday brought us back to reality with the bad BoP. You could see that with our car concept we simply don’t stand a chance on this track when it’s dry. We were already far behind in qualifying. In the race, the competition was up to 1.5 seconds per lap faster. That is not the sporting fairness we want. I can only hope that there really will be a fair BoP for the finale in Hockenheim, when both titles are at stake for us. If it hadn’t rained on Saturday in Spielberg, we would have been out of the title race this weekend through no fault of our own. And the points we lost today hurt a lot.”

“Saturday’s race was fantastic, of course,” said Kelvin van der Linde. “It felt good to finally win a DTM race again after almost two years. I’m extremely proud of what we achieved as a team on Saturday. We’ll take that as motivation to the finale at Hockenheim. After we saw on Sunday what the reality is here, I’m even more proud of our performance on Saturday.”

“It wasn’t the easiest weekend,” said Ricardo Feller. “Saturday was mega despite the bad qualifying, Sunday not so much. We just had no speed on the straights and got in the way of the others. That confirmed what we already saw on Thursday and Friday. I also find the way the track limits were handled difficult and moderately correct. Nevertheless, it was a positive weekend overall. I didn’t think we would be able to keep the gap to the leader in the championship at the Red Bull Ring.”

Ricardo Feller remains in third place in the drivers’ standings, 31 points behind, with 56 points still up for grabs at the finale at Hockenheim on 21/22 October. The ABT driver is one of four drivers who still have a chance of winning the drivers’ title.

In the team standings, ABT Sportsline was even able to make up ground as the runner-up and reduce the gap from 31 to 27 points.

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