Mattias Ekstrom led an Audi sweep of the top five places in the first DTM free practice session of the weekend at Brands Hatch.
Ekstrom, who is Audi's highest-placed driver in the championship heading into this weekend, edged reigning champion Timo Scheider by just 0.061sec. The two Abt Sportsline drivers moved to the top of the time sheets during a flurry of activity in the middle of the session, with most of the headline times coming from Audis.
The manufacturer will be keen to reverse its recent poor form in relation to Mercedes this weekend, which might explain the bigger push from A4 drivers in comparison to their C-class rivals. Ekstrom also completed the most laps of anyone in the 90-minute session.
The 2008-spec Audis of Miguel Molina, Alexandre Premat and Markus Winkelhock completed the top five. Molina and Premat were the only drivers to make a significant improvement in the final few moments of the session, as most of the field refrained from pushing any harder at the end.
Gary Paffett was the top Mercedes runner in sixth. The HWA Mercedes team had a solid day, with Paul di Resta (seventh) and championship leader Bruno Spengler (ninth) close to Paffett's time. Spengler was sandwiched by two more Audis, as Oliver Jarvis and Mike Rockenfeller also made the top 10.
As expected, it was a difficult start to the weekend for those in 2008-spec Mercedes. Susie Stoddart was the fastest of the older Mercedes in 11th, while the other four drivers in the same cars filled places 14-17.
Pos Driver Car Time Gap
1. Mattias Ekstrom Audi 42.019s
2. Timo Scheider Audi 42.080s + 0.061s
3. Miguel Molina Audi 42.153s + 0.134s
4. Alexandre Premat Audi 42.158s + 0.139s
5. Markus Winkelhock Audi 42.196s + 0.177s
6. Gary Paffett Mercedes 42.217s + 0.198s
7. Paul di Resta Mercedes 42.268s + 0.249s
8. Oliver Jarvis Audi 42.306s + 0.287s
9. Bruno Spengler Mercedes 42.318s + 0.299s
10. Mike Rockenfeller Audi 42.339s + 0.320s
11. Susie Stoddart Mercedes 42.414s + 0.395s
12. Martin Tomczyk Audi 42.442s + 0.423s
13. Ralf Schumacher Mercedes 42.446s + 0.427s
14. Jamie Green Mercedes 42.489s + 0.470s
15. Maro Engel Mercedes 42.525s + 0.506s
16. David Coulthard Mercedes 42.650s + 0.631s
17. Cong Fu Cheng Mercedes 42.723s + 0.704s
18. Katherine Legge Audi 42.724s + 0.705s