Tom Kristensen grabs maiden DTM win, Manuel Reuter in third
The seventh race of the DTM championship at the MOTOPARK Oschersleben turned into a veritable heated battle due to temperatures exceeding 30 degrees Celsius and thrilling door-to-door skirmishes between the 21 drivers.
Danish Audi driver Tom Kristensen stayed cool and was rewarded with a maiden DTM victory on the 3.667 kilometre-long circuit near Magdeburg. Team mate Martin Tomczyk in an Audi A4 DTM crossed the finish line hot on the heels and 2.7 seconds off the pace. Tomczyk had been in the lead until the 20th lap before relinquishing this to Kristensen after his second pit stop.
Opel driver ensured for a heart-stopping finale. The driver from Mainz fought for every inch over many laps behind the third-placed Gary Paffett in an AMG-Mercedes C-class. Reuter was then able to overtake the Briton after he skidded slightly in the penultimate lap, and the German then crossed the finish line in third.
The leader in the overall standings, Audi driver Mattias Ekstr?m, collected four crucial points in his battle for the championship after placing fifth. The next-placed trio of Laurent Aiello, Timo Scheider and Marcel F?ssler wrapped up a successful day for Opel by racing into the points in positions six to eight.
Swede Mattias Ekstr?m in an Audi A4 DTM has now extended his lead in the overall standings to 51 points. Mercedes-Benz driver Christijan Albers missed out on points after being slapped with a time penalty, but he is still in second position on 42 points. Gary Paffett is in third, two points behind (40 points). Winner Kristensen has now conquered fourth position with his first win and and a total of 27 points.
The DTM celebrated yet another record number of spectators at the MOTOPARK Oschersleben. An increase of 30 percent over the year-ago period was registered with 66,000 people visiting over the weekend and a total 528,000 spectators coming to seven races in 2004. On average, 75,429 specators have flocked to each DTM race.
The eighth race of the DTM takes place in four weeks' time (September 3 to 5) on the Dutch Circuit Park Zandvoort.
Tom Kristensen (1st place, Audi A4 DTM):
"It's amazing that I was able to win a race so early on in my DTM career. I'm over the moon with this win because I don't know when I'll be able to repeat it. The first win is the nicest, but also the most important. I had a fantastic car and a great team. I took over the lead after my first pit stop, but Martin was in top form today and pressured me until the very end."
Martin Tomczyk (2nd place, Audi A4 DTM):
"This second place is my biggest success in the DTM. Tom and I drove the same lap times. Everything went perfectly for us. There were sadly problems with the nuts on the left front wheel during my second pit stop and Tom then passed me. I'm not sad that I didn't win. A dream would have come true, but an Audi nevertheless won."
Manuel Reuter (3rd place, Opel Vectra GTS V8):
"I was able to keep up well with the others. When I was then behind Paffett at the end I saw that he was making a few small mistakes. So I piled on the pressure in order to force him into a bigger mistake. He then made one and I was there. Congratulations to my team. I had an excellent car."
Gary Paffett (4th place, AMG-Mercedes C-class):
"It was an incredibly tough race and I had a few problems. I gave my all from the beginning to the end. Just before the end of the race I then skidded a bit and lost my place. But I'm still in with a chance. I'll do my utmost to collect as many points as possible."
Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, Audi Motorsport Director:
"The whole team pulled off an incredibly brilliant performance, both the drivers and the mechanics. It's something quite unique to celebrate a double win in such a competitive line-up. We saw exquisite motorsports acted out in front of packed grandstands and I think the DTM can be proud that's it's going so well this year."
Volker Strycek, Opel Sport Director:
"Opel has been poised for a podium finish for a while and it finally worked out well today. We drove onto the podium by our own merit and following a strong team performance have also managed to get a further three Opel pilots into the points with the positions six to eight. Manuel was first-class, so were our strategy and pit stops. Heinz-Harald Frentzen also did a fantastic job. He started out from the last place due to an infection and battled into 14th place. Now we're going to celebrate."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Director:
"Everything has often gone really well for us, but today we didn't get the desired result. But it does confirm the trend that we've got three competitive brands in the DTM. I'm convinced that the battle for the championship will remain thrilling. We now regard our deficit as a challenge for the final three races - and will go to work with a vengeance. I hope we continue to have fair races and such brilliant sports in the final phase."