Audi also triumphant at Brands Hatch First DTM victory of the season for Mattias Ekstrom Martin Tomczyk and Christian Abt also in the points Tom Kristensen retires after commanding drive Le Mans, Lime Rock, and Brands Hatch - the run of Audi...
Audi also triumphant at Brands Hatch
First DTM victory of the season for Mattias Ekstrom
Martin Tomczyk and Christian Abt also in the points
Tom Kristensen retires after commanding drive
Le Mans, Lime Rock, and Brands Hatch - the run of Audi wins in motorsport continued on the first weekend in July. Audi celebrated its 50th victory in the American Le Mans Series during the Audi R8 prototype's final race only a fortnight after the historical maiden victory of a diesel powered sportscar at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Only 15 hours after crossing the finishing line at Lime Rock, yet another Audi driver, Mattias Ekstrom (Red Bull Audi A4 DTM), mounted the top step of the podium at the British DTM round at Brands Hatch.
The Swede, driving for Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline, who was plagued by a run of bad luck during the opening races of the year, kept a cool head in the heat of the battle around Brands Hatch and benefited from the perfect strategy to win the turbulent race by 5.957 seconds from Mercedes driver Jamie Green. In contrast to most of his competitors the former DTM Champion made both tyre changes relatively late in the race, and was, as result, able to force Green into making a decisive mistake and secured the second successive DTM win for Audi.
With team mates Martin Tomczyk securing fourth place and Christian Abt in fifth position, two further Audi drivers collected points on the demanding circuit located within the shadow of the gates of London. Abt was, as in qualifying, the best driver of a year-old car and collected the first points for Audi Sport Team Phoenix.
Tom Kristensen's impressive showing went unrewarded. The Danish driver dominated the entire weekend in his Siemens Audi A4 DTM and looked to be heading for a second successive commanding win, before being forced to retire 17 laps from home with a defect to the front left-hand suspension.
The nightshift put in by Heinz-Harald Frentzen's squad of mechanics, who completely rebuilt his Veltins Audi A4 DTM in a mere 16 hours after a heavy accident in Qualifying, also went unrewarded. The former Formula 1 driver complained of an ill-handling car in the race following a contact with Jean Alesi and retired in the pits four laps before the finish.
Pierre Kaffer and Timo Scheider narrowly missed scoring points in ninth and tenth places respectively. In his first outing for Audi customer team Futurecom TME, Jeroen Bleekemolen, in 14th position, was the best driver of a 2004-spec car. After a storming drive in the opening stages of the race, Vanina Ickx slid into the gravel bed at the top of "Paddock Hill Bend". Frank Stippler retired during the second lap following an "off" at the "Druids" hairpin.
Quotes after the race
Dr Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport):
"The spectators at Brands Hatch saw a fantastic DTM race. It's tremendous that Mattias claimed victory for Audi, which shows that he's back where he belongs and is just as strong as he's always been. Tom's retirement is obviously a huge disappointment. He really had dominated the race, he was the quickest, but was then forced to retire due to a technical problem. It is a disappointment for both Tom and us, but such things are a part of racing and give us even more motivation for our home race at Norisring."
"Right now I'm just feeling totally happy. The win is just reward for the entire team, which was backed me through thick and thin, particularly in the last couple of races when things didn't go so well for me. I'm sorry for Tom who deserved to win today. But I'm convinced as long as we stick together as a team in the future the fight for the championship will go down to the wire."
"I'm happy for Eki, but obviously deeply disappointed for myself. The entire weekend ran so amazingly well: pole position, fastest in the warm-up and then in the race as I led so commandingly. I was even able to control the pace and didn't drive over anything I shouldn't have. I even avoided the kerbs in Turn 1. But suddenly I couldn't steer the car properly in the compression anymore."
More to follow