Mike Rockenfeller wants more after his victory in Assen in 2019. In 2020, the 2013 DTM Champion is aiming for his second title win. Above all, his tire-friendly driving style could be a key factor for the German.
“The competition in the DTM will certainly become tighter again in 2020,” says Mike Rockenfeller. The logical consequence for the 2013 DTM Champion is therefore: “In qualifying last season I had one or two weaknesses. I’ll work on this with even greater effort. The last two DTM events in 2019 make him optimistic: “I was among the top five in each of the qualifying rounds, once even on pole position.”
In order to continue this upward trend in 2020, “Rocky” in particular, with its new race engineer Jamie Gomeche, must become a functioning unit as quickly as possible. “This is a special challenge because he is new to the DTM and new to our team,” says Rockenfeller. “But fortunately I’ve got a bit of experience,” he adds.
Mike Rockenfeller is already tackling his ninth season for Audi Sport Team Phoenix, with whom he won the DTM title in 2013 and then went through a rollercoaster ride. Since 2017, apart from minor setbacks, his form curve has been pointing upwards again.
Rockenfeller was the best Audi driver in 2012 in his first year with Audi Sport Team Phoenix. In 2013 he clinched the championship title with the Audi RS 5 DTM. “That was a very emotional experience, also because I had worked so long for this moment,” recalls “Rocky.” In 2014 he was again the best Audi driver as third overall. Afterwards, things went downhill: The tire generation at that time did not suit his tire-friendly driving style and things didn’t go smoothly in the Eifel team either.
Therefore, at the end of 2016, the German was faced with the crucial question of doing something else or taking off again after ten years of DTM. “Rocky” decided to make a new start in the DTM – together with Ernst Moser’s team, where he had his most successful DTM years. “I was confident that we would make it back to the top,” he says. “The team and I both had to get out of the hole. We had to change a few things to be able to perform differently again.”
Rockenfeller got along well with the softer, unheated Hankook tires used since 2017 right from the start and finally clinched his next DTM victory at Zandvoort. In 2019, the Netherlands were again a successful place for him: At the DTM premiere at Assen, tire whisperer “Rocky” won Sunday’s race on the rough tarmac of the demanding motorcycle Grand Prix circuit. In 2020, he makes a new attempt to clinch his second DTM title. His smooth, tire-friendly driving style could be a key to this. “The turbo cars that we have been driving in the DTM since 2019 have significantly more power than the naturally aspirated cars before. This has made tire management by the driver even more important,” says “Rocky.”
Mike Rockenfeller has been racing with Audi in the touring car series since 2007. The first years at the wheel of a car from the previous year were tough. At that time, “Rocky” got his motivation mainly from sports car races, which he competed in parallel to the DTM. In 2010 he clinched overall victory at the Le Mans 24 Hours with the Audi R15 TDI, one year later he had the most serious accident in his career to date at the French endurance classic – of all things at the very moment when he had just gained a foothold in the DTM and won his first DTM race. The German had to bury his title hopes because he was missing two races after the accident at Le Mans.
“Rocky” is supported by his parents, wife Susanne and two sons Phil and Paul. The Rockenfellers have built a house on the Swiss side of Lake Constance in his DTM championship year 2013. It also has its own fitness room where “Rocky” consistently trains his fitness and keeps it at a top level. At the same time, it is the headquarters of a new company that is committed to e-sports. “E-Sports is developing rapidly and I see an interesting field of activity for me in this area – not as a driver, but as a business.”
Privately, Mike Rockenfeller drives an Audi SQ8 TDI. In addition to family and motorsport, he has a weakness for old cars – not unusual for a trained car mechanic. So far, the latest addition to the collection is an Audi R15 TDI. “It may not be my Le Mans winning car but it’s still a race car that I have great memories of,” says “Rocky.”
Mike Rockenfeller (D)
Date of birth: October 31, 1983
Place of birth: Neuwied (D)
Place of residence: Landschlacht (CH)
Marital status: married to Susanne, two sons (Phil and Paul)
Height/weight: 1.75 m/69 kg
Motorsport since: 1995 (Audi driver since 2007)
1997 1st place DMV Junior Cup
2000 1st place Jörg van Ommen Kart Cup
2001 4th place Formula König
2002 10th place Porsche Carrera Cup
2003 2nd place Porsche Carrera Cup, Porsche Supercup
2004 1st place Porsche Carrera Cup, Porsche Supercup
2005 1st place GT2 class FIA GT Championship, 1st place GT2 class 24 Hours Le Mans, 1st place GT2 class 24 Hours Spa
2006 1st place 24 Hours Nürburgring, 5th place GrandAm Series, 8th place GT2 class American Le Mans Series
2007 12th place DTM (Audi A4 DTM), 24 Hours Le Mans (Audi R10 TDI)
2008 1st place Le Mans Series (Audi R10 TDI), 4th place 24 Hours of Le Mans (Audi R10 TDI), 11th place DTM (Audi A4 DTM)
2009 3rd place 12 Hours Sebring (Audi R15 TDI), 14th place DTM (Audi A4 DTM)
2010 1st place 24 Hours Le Mans (Audi R15 TDI), 1st place 24 Hours of Daytona, 7th place DTM (Audi A4 DTM)
2011 6th place DTM (Audi A4 DTM), 1 victory, 24 Hours Le Mans (Audi R18 TDI)
2012 4th place DTM (Audi A5 DTM), 3rd place 24 Hours Le Mans (Audi R18 ultra)
2013 1st place DTM (Audi RS 5 DTM), 2 victories, ADAC Motor Sportsman of the Year
2014 3rd place DTM (Audi RS 5 DTM)
2015 10th place DTM (Audi RS 5 DTM), 1 victory, 3rd place 24 Hours Daytona
2016 19th place DTM (Audi RS 5 DTM), 2nd place GTE class 24 Hours Daytona
2017 4th place DTM (Audi RS 5 DTM), 1 victory, 1st place GTE class 12 Hours Sebring
2018 11th place DTM (Audi RS 5 DTM), 3rd place GTE class 24 Hours Daytona
2019 4th place DTM (Audi RS 5 DTM), 1 victory
2020 DTM (Audi RS 5 DTM)