DTM

Lausitz II: Race report

EKSTRöM WINS DTM THRILLER AT THE EUROSPEEDWAY Klettwitz - The EuroSpeedway Lausitz round of the close battle for the 2005 DTM Drivers' Championship turned out to be extremely thrilling. At the end of the absorbing race, Audi's reigning...

EKSTRöM WINS DTM THRILLER AT THE EUROSPEEDWAY

Klettwitz - The EuroSpeedway Lausitz round of the close battle for the 2005 DTM Drivers' Championship turned out to be extremely thrilling. At the end of the absorbing race, Audi's reigning champion, Mattias Ekström, defeated his closest opponent, Gary Paffett (AMG-Mercedes C-Class).

Thanks to today's win, and with two more rounds to go, the Swede regained the lead, one point ahead of Paffett. Behind the two title contenders, Ekström's team-mate Tom Kristensen finished third in the 48-lap (165.216 kilometres) race. While pole-sitter Jamie Green had to retire on lap 29 from 12th position, due to brake problems.

The 67,000 enthusiasts that travelled to the EuroSpeedway for the ninth DTM round witnessed motor racing at its best, with the championship leaders, Gary Paffett and Mattias Ekström, once again outclassing the rest of the field.

From his fifth position on the grid, Ekström made a great start and in turn one, he moved up to third place, behind Opel drivers Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Manuel Reuter. Paffett, who had been seventh on the grid, needed four laps to move up to fourth position behind Ekström.

From this point in time, the title contenders were involved in a thrilling and very fair battle that ended only at the finish line. Paffett followed Ekström like a shadow and pressurised the Swede again and again, but at the end of the day, Ekström defended his lead to secure his eighth DTM win and regain the championship lead.

Prior to the race in Turkey, that will be held in a fortnight, the 27-year old (69 points) holds a one-point lead over Paffett (68 points). Since the third round of the season, held at Spa-Francorchamps, the championship lead was swapped from Paffett to Ekström and vice versa following every single race.

Behind third placed Tom Kristensen (Audi Sport Team Abt), Frenchman Laurent Aiello and his team-mate, Manuel Reuter, finished fourth and fifth, in their Opel Vectras GTS V8. In the antepenultimate race of his career, Laurent Aiello secured his first top-five result in the 2005 season. During the course of the EuroSpeedway Lausitz DTM weekend, the Frenchman had announced to retire from motor racing, at the end of the 2005 season.

Opel's Heinz-Harald Frentzen, who had impressed by qualifying second, held sixth position when he was involved in a collision with AMG-Mercedes C-Class driver Jean Alesi, on lap 44. The Frenchman was penalised with a drive-thru penalty, while Frentzen lost a position and finished seventh, behind Alesi's team-mate Bruno Spengler. Alesi came eighth.

Mika Häkkinen, the idol of the public, was involved in a battle with Christian Abt (Audi A4 DTM) for eighth place. In lap 14, the opponents collided and at the end of the day, the two-time Formula One World Champion had to settle for 12th place.

The tenth and penultimate DTM round of the 2005 season will be held on 2nd October at the Istanbul Speedpark, in Turkey, while the Hockenheimring, located in Baden Württemberg, Germany, will be the venue of the season finale, taking place on 23rd October.

RACE QUOTES

Mattias Ekström (Winner, Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline):

"This race resembled a 50-lap qualifying session. It was my strategy to drive as fast as possible while avoiding the slightest mistake at the same time. This worked out quite well. Today, my team, my car and I are the winners. The race was extremely tough as Gary pressurised me all the time. But thanks to our great pit stops and strategy I succeeded in winning today's race."

Gary Paffett (2nd place, DaimlerChrysler Bank AMG-Mercedes):

"Today, Mattias and I underlined why we're the championship leaders. It was one of the closest and fairest races of the entire season. There were only two options to pass Mattias: he had to make a mistake or I had to push him off the track. But that's not the style and the level we are dealing with one another."

"In consideration of my seventh grid position, it's a great result to have finished second. Prior to the race already I was aware that there was only one possibility to finish ahead of Mattias: to win the race."

Tom Kristensen (3rd place, Audi Sport Team Abt):

"Today, I was the man who had the best seat to watch the battle for the lead. Both Ekström and Paffett delivered in superior style and I would have loved to be involved in this battle. But due to a clutch problem during my second pit stop my engine stalled and I lost a lot of time."

Laurent Aiello (4th place, Team OPC):

"This has been a great race, for me. It was a strange feeling to know that today's race was the antepenultimate one of my career. I made a slightly too conservative start as I didn't want to mess with Gary's business, and in the closing stages, I was involved in a great battle with Tom Kristensen."

Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich Audi Motorsport Director:

"This has been a truly great race. To witness the competitiveness at the front and the tough but fair battles was just fantastic. This was thrilling and fair motor racing at its very best. I'm proud of being involved in this championship. Mattias Ekström drove a flawless race and our team delivered a splendid performance with perfect pit stops. A strategy that paid off. Today's cooperation was perfect and that's the way to win the DTM."

Norbert Haug Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Director:

"Congratulations to Mattias Ekström and Gary Paffett for their great battle. Gary could pressurise Mattias all the time but there was just no chance of passing him. He tried everything but an unfair attack. That was truly motor racing at its very best and probably one of the most thrilling races in the history of motor racing."

Volker Strycek Opel Motorsport Director:

"At the end of the day, joy is my dominating feeling. To have three cars among the top seven represents a great result. Due to a power breakdown at our conning bridge at a certain point in time, we lost the chance of changing our strategy. Laurent Aiello proved that he was able to close in on the front runners, at a free track."

"We are happy with today's result. We don't yet know what we have to expect at Istanbul, but should we succeed in continuing on the current level we should be able to secure another two good results, in the final two rounds of the season."

-dtm-

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About this article
Series DTM
Drivers Heinz-Harald Frentzen , Jean Alesi , Mika Hakkinen , Tom Kristensen , Laurent Aiello , Manuel Reuter , Norbert Haug , Christian Abt , Mattias Ekström , Volker Strycek , Bruno Spengler , Gary Paffett , Jamie Green
Teams Team Abt