Double victory for Audi at Hockenheim DTM season opener In bright sunshine in the Kurpfalz region, 101,000 spectators enjoyed an action-packed DTM season opener at the Hockenheimring. Mattias EkstrÃ¶m is the first winner of the 2007 season. The...
Double victory for Audi at Hockenheim DTM season opener
In bright sunshine in the Kurpfalz region, 101,000 spectators enjoyed an action-packed DTM season opener at the Hockenheimring. Mattias Ekström is the first winner of the 2007 season. The Swedish Audi driver and 2004 DTM champion scored his tenth victory in the DTM, the 40th win for Auzdi in the most popular international touring car series. "My tenth victory in the DTM certainly is a reason to celebrate tonight", Ekström said about his first place.
Audi won a DTM race at the Hockenheimring for the first time since April 2002. Exactly 3.826 seconds behind Ekström, German Martin Tomczyk crossed the finish line and completed the double victory for Audi. Daniel La Rosa claimed the third and final slot on the podium with his AMG Mercedes C-Class. La Rosa moved up one place after having finished fourth. The stewards judged a collision on the final lap between pole-sitter Bruno Spengler (Mercedes-Benz) in third and fourth-placed Audi driver Timo Scheider as avoidable. Spengler was given a 50 seconds' time penalty and thus was classified 14th.
Just after the start into the first season round of the DTM, all spectators held their breath. Seven times' record Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen spun with his Audi A4 DTM after tangling with fellow Audi driver Timo Scheider. Alexandre Prémat approached at high speed and couldn't avoid the collision, hitting Kristensen's car on the driver's side.
Both drivers were conscious and able to talk, but were still taken to the medical centre for observation. There, Prémat was diagnosed to have a cracked lumber vertebra, which, according to information of the doctors, will not cause any remaining injuries. Tom Kristensen remained unscathed. Their fellow Audi driver Adam Carroll and Scottish lady racer Susie Stoddart (Mercedes-Benz) were also involved in the accident and retired. The race continued after an interruption.
After the restart, there were several position changes in the lead. The eventual winner, Mattias Ekström, benefited from an optimal pit stop stragey. The Swede opted for two very early stops and thus laid the foundation for his success. After racing had resumed, Bruno Spengler was second for a long time, but then had a technical problem and had to let Tomczyk past. On the final lap, Spengler got involved in the aforementioned collision.
Driving his AMG Mercedes C-Class, newcomer Paul di Resta caused a positive surprise. With his two-year old car, the Scot came home fifth in his maiden DTM race, following home his fellow Mercedes drivers Daniel La Rosa and Alexandros Margaritis. After the restart, the 21-year old even was in the lead, but he lost valuable positions following problems with his pit stops. Reigning DTM champion Bernd Schneider (Mercedes-Benz) finished seventh, fellow Mercedes-driver Mika Häkkinen came tenth. Thus, there were seven Mercedes-Benz cars in the top ten.
In the point standings, Mattias Ekström is leading with ten points from Martin Tomczyk (8) and Daniel La Rosa (6). The second DTM race of the year will take place at the Motorsport Arena Oschersleben on May 6.
Mattias Ekström (winner, Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline): "My tenth victory in the DTM certainly is a reason to celebrate tonight. Today, everything was just perfect: a perfect car, a perfect strategy, perfect pit stops, a perfect day. It can continue like this. With all pleasure, I hope that Tom and Alex are well, too."
Martin Tomczyk (2nd place, Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline): "The qualifying result already showed that we can be among the front runners. That it even was a double win at Hockenheim, is just great. Tonight, we will have a decent party."
Daniel La Rosa (3rd place, TrekStor AMG-Mercedes): "Actually, fourth place was already a massive success for me and a reason to celebrate. Too bad for Bruno that he had his third place taken away. It means one extra point for me, but I don't really like getting points attributed to me afterwards."
Audi-Motorsportchef Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich: "According to the regulations, the DTM cars are at a very high safety standard. Still, it is always bad when we have to prove that. I have been speeking to both of the drivers. It is usual that they are being taken to hospital for further checks in a case like that and I hope that we will be back for the next race with the entire crew."
"This victory has been a long time coming. Mercedes-Benz has been very strong with the new C-Class. Nevertheless, we have managed to win here with the A4. I am all the more happy that it was a double win. At Hockenheim, we always have been struggling and in fact, I don't know why. Maybe this is a good omen that it will work for us at the Norisring, too. I am not surprised by the fact that Mattias Ekström and Martin Tomczyk are on top. Both are well motivated and went to great length in their preparations. There is no way to be fitter and more motivated before a season."
Mercedes-Benz-Motorsportchef Norbert Haug: "First of all congratulations to Audi for this double win, that is very much the result of strategy. The most important thing, however, is that Tom Kristensen and Alexandre Prémat will be all right. The first indications for a good outcome are there. Surely, it was a heavy impact and an accident that nobody wants to see happening. The cars are very safe, but when the impact happens from the side, the forces are just incredible. According to me, the drivers that came up from behind had no way to avoid the collision and thus it was a racing accident."
"Audi's strategy was very good, but it is always a little bit easier when you are attacking. We were running comfortably and at a good speed and when Martin Tomczyk locked up, we took the lead. However, in traffic, we couldn't keep the pace up and on top of that, making pit stops wouldn't have made sense. We were a little bit unfortunate. All in all, the field was very well balanced. Third to ninth place is a result I can live with. We have won here nine times, we didn't manage a tenth time."