Ekstrom wins Valencia, Tomczyk disqualified

Audi was back on the top step of the DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) podium in Valencia, led by Mattias Ekstrom and Martin Tomczyk, who were separated by less than a second at the finish. However, Tomczyk was to be denied his points as the race stewards disqualified him for a tire infraction.

Mattias Ekstr?m, Audi Sport Team Abt Audi A4 DTM.
Photo by Eric Gilbert.

"Last year, I didn't have one single win," said Ekstrom, who won for the first time since 2008. "So it's time to be happy; that is what one should always do after a victory. But we also have to maintain our concentration for the next races."

Ekstrom, the 2005 DTM champion, had started the race from pole position, after spending much of the weekend atop the timesheets, and he made no mistake holding his lead into the first corner.

Spengler followed from his second grid position, but was not able to mount a serious challenge, as Ekstrom gradually pulled away in the early stages of the lead, ad nearly half a second a lap in the early stages.

The narrow Autodromo Communiate Valenciana Ricardo Tormo is not conducive to a lot of passing, even for the DTM drivers who are rarely shy about trading a little paint, so there was little change in the order until the mandatory pit stops.

Oliver Jarvis, who had been pressuring Spengler as the pit stop window opened, was able to make his move during the second stop: by making his middle stint three laps longer, Jarvis was able to pass the Canadian in the pits and rejoin in second place.

But more impressive was Tomczyk taking advantage of the stops: the German veteran had started ninth, and had decided to use pit stop strategy to give himself a chance to fight for the podium.

He left his first visit to the pits until lap 20, near the end of the obligatory pit stop window, and then lap 34 for his second stop. This gave him clear track to make up ground on the leaders, and he took full advantage, slipping back onto the track ahead of the second-placed Jarvis.

It looked an all-Audi podium at this point, then, with Ekstrom, Tomczyk and Jarvis; the lonely Mercedes of Spengler was then followed by the Audis of Alexandre Premat and Timo Scheider, who had moved up from eighth and tenth starting positions, respectively.

Bruno Spengler, Team HWA AMG Mercedes C-Klasse.
Photo by Eric Gilbert.

However, the race came to an early end for Jarvis, who had to pull into the pits to retire on lap 38 with a fuel pick-up problem.

Tomczyk was able to enjoy both the full race and the podium celebrations, but as at the season opener in Hockenheim, tires were to wipe out his good result: a mistake by a crewmember in selecting the tires resulted in him accidentally using one tire from the set designated as not to be used, and the race stewards had no option but to exclude him from the results.

Spengler, then, moved up from fourth to second, and now takes the championship lead with 16 points from two second-place finishes in the season's two first races, three ahead of Ekstrom. The unfortunate Tomczyk, who lost what appeared a certain victory with a tire puncture at Hockenheimring, is so far without a point.

"Ekstrom was faster here today, after we had dominated in Hockenheim, but that's what happens in the DTM," Spengler said. "I'm happy to take the overall lead and of course I would like to say this again after another eight races!"

Premat took the final podium position in a 2008-spec Audi, though not until after the celebrations, followed by Scheider, Paul di Resta, Mike Rockenfeller and Gary Paffett.