Mattias EkstrÃ¶m comes good in Brands Hatch touring car thriller In bright sunshine at Brands Hatch, the impressive crowd of motor racing fans were treated to touring car racing as good as it comes in the fourth round of the DTM. After 85 laps...
Mattias Ekström comes good in Brands Hatch touring car thriller
In bright sunshine at Brands Hatch, the impressive crowd of motor racing fans were treated to touring car racing as good as it comes in the fourth round of the DTM. After 85 laps in gruelling conditions at the 1.929 kilometres short track, Swedish Audi-driver Mattias Ekström came out on top to claim his first win of the season after having had bad luck in the first few races.
For most of the race, Tom Kristensen (Audi Sport Team Abt) looked on course towards his second victory in a row, but the Dane retired on lap 69 with damaged left front wheel suspension on his car. That allowed local hero Jamie Green to go through with his AMG-Mercedes C-Class, but the Briton's joy would last only five laps as he ran wide coming out of Graham Hill Bend.
Mattias Ekström went past and motored on to take the chequered flag which was waved by Damon Hill. The 1996 Formula 1 World Champion was among the 21,500 people that turned out to watch the race and also took some VIPs around for passenger rides in a DTM race taxi. "It is a magnificent comeback for the DTM in the UK. I am really impressed by this event, the DTM is a great series," said Hill.
Race winner Mattias Ekström commented: "Today, my fitness training has paid off. I feel sorry for Tom as he should have won today, but the most important fact is that Audi won." Jamie Green eventually finished second from Mercedes-Benz-team mate Bernd Schneider, who took back the lead in the championship standings with a four-points margin over Tom Kristensen.
Having started from pole position, Kristensen took the lead as the lights went out and easily controlled proceedings in front of the 20 car field. Green maintained his second place from Mattias Ekström, while Heinz-Harald Frentzen dropped back from third to fourth.
The former F1-driver's Audi A4 DTM had been repaired overnight after a crash in yesterday's qualifying, but the German still struggled with handling during the race and eventually finished well down the order in 17th place.
Two times' Formula 1 World Champion, Mika Häkkinen, also was prevented from scoring a good result after having to come in for a drive-through penalty for overtaking under yellow. The Finn came home eleventh.
The first row of mandatory pit stops saw Kristensen stay in the lead from Green and the order remained unchanged after the second range of pit stops as well. Kristensen then looked all-set for victory, but it wasn't to be.
"My race was excellent and my team has completed two perfect pit stops. I could control the pace up to my retirement. Too bad, as we could have made another step towards the championship today", the Dane said.
Best-placed driver with year-old machinery was Christian Abt in fifth place with his Audi A4 DTM, while another Audi-driver, Dutchman Jeroen Bleekemolen scored the best result with a 2004-spec car by finishing 14th on his return in the DTM.
Mattias Ekström (winner, Audi Sport Team Abt):
"I had expected the race to be tougher. My fitness training has paid off. Too bad for Tom, as he was the man of the weekend and is the moral winner. But the most important thing is that Audi has won."
Jamie Green (2nd place, Salzgitter AMG-Mercedes):
"I had a very long final stint and noticed how the condition of the tyres became worse. Mattias was on fresher tyres and I saw him getting closer and closer. In my attempt of keeping him at bay, I made a mistake. Dropping back to second while in the lead in your home race after such a mistake is really painful."
Bernd Schneider (3rd place, Vodafone AMG-Mercedes):
"Making it through was the crucial thing today. I had the bad luck of being stuck behind Timo Scheider for a long time. It could have been worse. I am happy with third place. This is the best one could have expected after having started sixth."
Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich Audi Motor sport director:
"Throughout the weekend, all cars have been showing a great performance. Tom Kristensen always was a little bit better than the others. He was the dominating driver of the weekend. Unfortunately, he then had a problem with the car which we haven't be able to look further into yet."
"Of course, we are happy to see Mattias Ekström back on top again. He and his team have shown a great performance. The fact that Christian Abt finished fifth in this exciting race with a 2005-spec car is quite remarkable. All in all, it was a great race and a good basis to work on for coming back to race again here next year."
Hans-Jürgen Mattheis Team manager H.W.A. GmbH:
"I was equally excited by this race as the spectators. It was really thrilling. The present that Tom Kristensen made us towards the end of the race was immediately returned by Jamie Green as he ran wide, allowing Mattias Ekström to overtake. With his third place, Bernd Schneider is now back in the lead of the championship standings. The battle for the title is open again. My verdict of the weekend here at Brands Hatch is a positive one. We are satisfied upon going home."