Berthold Bouman, DTM Correspondent
- Jamie Green wins season grand finale
- Ekstrom takes 2nd place in championship
- Pole sitter Molina finished in third place
Jamie Green (AMG Mercedes) won the final DTM (German Touringcar Masters) race of the season at Hockenheim this afternoon, after he had beaten Miguel Molina (Audi Sport Team Abt Junior) at the start while current 2011 DTM Champion Martin Tomczyk (Audi Sport Team Phoenix) also overtook the Spaniard who was just a little bit too slow off the line. It was the Briton’s seventh career win, and his only victory of the season.
But more important, against all odds Mattias Ekstrom (Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline) took over Bruno Spengler’s (Mercedes Benz Bank AMG) second place in the championship. The Swede already had a disadvantage before the race as he had qualified in 10th place, while Spengler had qualified in sixth place on Saturday.
Green was delighted with his victory, “I feel very proud to have won this race which is also the final outing for the AMG Mercedes C-Class, the most successful car in DTM history. My car was perfect and I’m so pleased to have won here at Hockenheim for the second time. Now I can start the winter break on a high as a race winner this year.”
Ekstrom described his season, "I’m very pleased. As far as performance goes, this has been my best season in the DTM. In the first half the results weren’t the way I’d have liked them to be, but the second half was very good. On the whole, I’m proud and happy. We made a lot of improvements in the Abt team and the people from Audi Sport worked hard as well. We’ve learned a lot for the coming season."
The start of the race and the very first lap ultimately decided the outcome of the grand finale, as Green flew past Molina while at the same time Tomczyk passed the Spaniard as well. At the back of the field Susie Wolff (TV Spielfilm AMG Mercedes) stayed behind on the grid when the lights turned to green. The opposite could be said of Rahel Frey (Audi Sport Team Phoenix) who jumped the start and was handed a drive-through penalty a few laps later. Wolff finally got going again, but like her colleague, Frey would not play an important role at Hockenheim today.
Spengler initially had a great start but ran wide after he tried to battle it out with Oliver Jarvis (Audi Sport Team Abt), and Ekstrom who was right behind them used the opportunity to pass the Canadian as well. Which meant Spengler was then ninth, and Ekstrom was eighth just behind his marque colleague Jarvis. Not much later Ekstrom passed Jarvis, who of course graciously let him by as he understood second place in the championship was at stake.
Not a good situation for Spengler, who again like in the past three races seemed to miss the speed to get closer to his rivals in order to defend his second place in the championship, today he was again simply not fast enough to do so.
Green was on a good pace and soon started to pull away from Tomczyk and Molina behind him, while Timo Scheider (Audi Sport Team Abt) and Mike Rockenfeller (Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline) were battling for fourth position. Behind those two were Gary Paffett (Tomas Sabo AMG Mercedes) and Ekstrom who was looking for a way past the Briton.
By lap 10the situation was still the same and it was time for the first round of pit stops. As Scheider was still trying to get past Rockenfeller, his team decided to call him in to see if they could get him ahead during the stops, but it didn’t work and Scheider exited the pit lane right into the path of Spengler, who was not about to give up his position and after a short skirmish and some door to door racing Scheider had to settle for a place behind the Canadian.
Not much later on lap 12 Ekstrom decided to pit, a good decision as he rejoined the race in eighth position, with Jarvis and his rival Spengler still behind him in ninth and 10th. Also Jarvis in his Audi now served as a barrier to defend Ekstrom from any possible attacks launched by Spengler. But he didn’t have the pace and actually started to lose time on the Audi of Jarvis.
Leader Green had also made his first stop, and had rejoined the race in second position just behind Molina who was trying to stay out as long as possible hoping he could steel a place from Tomczyk during a late pit stop. But it wasn’t to be, his lap times started to drop as he was still racing on his first set of tyres, but he still was 11 seconds ahead of Green. He made his stop on lap 19, a good stop, but it was not enough to get ahead of Tomczyk and the Spaniard had to settle for third place again when he rejoined the pack.
Susie Wolff (TV Spielfilm AMG Mercedes) also pitted, but was released too early by her crew and she went side by side with Edoardo Mortara (Audi Sport Team Rosberg) through the pit lane exit, and was rewarded with a drive through penalty a few laps later.
On lap 20 the order was: Green, Tomczyk, Molina, Ekstrom, Jarvis, Spengler, Albuquerque, Rockenfeller, Paffett, and Maro Engel (GQ AMG Mercedes) rounded out the top ten. By then it was time for the second and last round of pit stops, this time it was Spengler´s crew who tried to get him ahead of Jarvis. Both came in at the same for their stop but it was Jarvis who was out first, and Spengler was again stuck behind the Briton.
His rival Ekstrom had already pitted and was back in seventh position then, and Jarvis and Spengler joined the race behind him. Next off into the pit lane for his final stop was Green who rejoined the race in second place behind Molina, who again waited very long before making his final stop. On lap 27 Ekstrom arrived at the tail of Scheider who was in sixth place, and the question was whether Scheider would let the Swede pass him to score more championship points. Scheider didn’t make it very difficult for Ekstrom and a few corners later Ekstrom had taken over Scheider’s sixth place.
With Ekstrom in sixth, and Spengler in ninth, Ekstrom had at this stage taken over Spengler’s second place in the championship, and to make things worse for the Canadian, Ekstrom was now on the prowl for Paffett who was fifth ahead of him. When Molina finally made his last stop, he joined again in third place, and the order was then: Green, Tomczyk, Molina, Rockenfeller, Paffett, Ekstrom, Scheider, Jarvis and Spengler.
At the back of the field was David Coulthard who completely had missed his breaking point when he arrived at his pit area, and almost ran over one of his mechanics. He had to be pushed back to his slot where he finally got his set of new tyres, but as a result of his mishap his race was over.
Coulthard about his disastrous pit stop, “This was an unlucky race for me – my first pit stop wasn’t brilliant, unfortunately. After that my race was more or less over, since I had no chance to move up the field. I would of course have wished for a better result for the end of the season.”
The race was also over for Christian Vietoris (Junge Sterne AMG Mercedes) as his pit crew had not properly secured his right front wheel and the German had to give up his race when he exited the pit lane and found his wheel was about to fall off his Mercedes.
Green meanwhile, was controlling the race from first position, he had plenty of pace and again pulled away from the numbers two and three. Ekstrom still was looking for a way past Paffett, but he couldn’t get close enough to overtake him. By now, for Spengler the situation was hopeless, he was behind the two Audis of Scheider and Jarvis, and knew they wouldn’t let him past easily, besides that, he didn’t have the pace to launch a serious attack.
Green kept controlling the race and was the first to cross the finish line, and was followed by Tomczyk and Molina in second and third place respectively. Rockenfeller, Paffett and Ekstrom finished in fourth, fifth and sixth position, and Spengler finished in a very disappointing ninth place, almost ten seconds behind sixth placed Ekstrom, it just wasn’t his day.
Molina was a little bit disappointed he lost the lead at the start, “A tremendous race. Unfortunately, I made a small mistake at the start but then we had a good pace and were fighting for positions. It’s great to have mounted the podium in the last race of the Audi A4 DTM. I’m also happy about my pole position. We’d like to continue like this."
Mercedes Motorsport Director Norbert Haug was satisfied his team won the final race of the season, “That was the final race to be contested under the current DTM regulations, and for Jamie Green to have won it in such a convincing manner today is a tremendous achievement. Well done to everyone who played their part in making it happen. This is a victory that will go down in the record books and Jamie showed his true calibre today.”
Spengler - it is rumored he will join BMW next season - was understandably disappointed. “Unfortunately, my bid to end the season as runner-up in the championship didn’t quite come off, but all the same, I take satisfaction from having won two races and having started from pole position in four,” he said adding, “That’s much more important than finishing second in the standings. So all in all, this has been a good year for us.”
Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, "Jamie Green was the quickest driver throughout the race today. But we achieved our aims here nonetheless. We won the team championship as well and clinched the runner-up’s slot in the championship with Mattias Ekström. It’s been a perfect DTM season for Audi with seven victories and the champion’s title for Martin (Tomczyk). And I don’t think that the DTM has often seen eight drivers from one marque mounting the podium in one year."
Traditionally, fireworks were lighted when Green crossed the finish line to celebrate another year of spectacular DTM racing, a season that was at the start dominated by Spengler, but Tomczyk soon started to catch up by winning the races at the Austrian Spielberg circuit and the German Lausitzring. After that he also won the race at Brands Hatch, while Spengler was losing more and more ground to the German, who ultimately won the championship in an old 2008-spec Audi A4, a truly amazing achievement, as no one has ever before won the title in a old spec car.
It was also a goodbye to the current DTM cars, next season a completely new generation of DTM cars will enter the competition, and the 120,000 spectators that attended this final race of the season today already got a piece of the 2012 action, as both Audi and Mercedes gave demos in the new 2012 cars after the race. Also good for the sport is the return of BMW next season, who are poised to make a good impression at their debut at Hockenheim in 2012 with drivers Andy Priaulx en Augusto Farfus.