Timo Scheider, the defending DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) champion, led an Audi lockout of the podium at Oschersleben today, finally taking his first victory of the 2009 season. "That was a good weekend for me," Scheider smiled. "Being on...
Timo Scheider, the defending DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) champion, led an Audi lockout of the podium at Oschersleben today, finally taking his first victory of the 2009 season.
"That was a good weekend for me," Scheider smiled. "Being on the winning way again is a great feeling. Of course, people are paying even more attention when you are the defending champion. Being the prey is not easy at all!"
Scheider slipped by polesitter and Audi teammate Tom Kristensen before the first corner, followed by third-place starter Martin Tomczyk, also in an Audi A4.
Kristensen managed to take back second in the first corner yet, but his chance for victory would be gone. The race stewards determined that his car had not been correctly positioned in its grid box, and slapped him with a drive-through penalty. That penalty would drop the Danish veteran to the back of the field a few laps later.
The front-runners for much of the race, then, were Scheider, Tomczyk and Mattias Ekstrom -- who had started from the second row -- next to Scheider, in the fourth of the 2009-spec Audis.
Ekstrom would eventually get past Tomczyk on the pit stops, but neither of the two had the pace of Scheider today, and Ekstrom was a mile behind -- by DTM standards -- with a gap of 5.417 seconds at the chequered flag.
"The race here looked easy, but it was really hard, also because of the temperatures and the humidity," said Scheider at the finish.
The gaps for the front of the field were indeed unusually large; while the hard-fought DTM races typically see gaps of not much more than a second, Ekstrom, too, was over four seconds ahead of Tomczyk, who in turn had a lonely drive, finishing 7.2 seconds in front of the first of the Mercedes, that of Paul di Resta.
It was not a banner day for the Stuttgart marque, which was paying for its success at the Norisring and at Zandvoort with 20 kg more "success weight" than the Audi teams. With that, the best Mercedes could do in qualifying was a sixth place for Bruno Spengler, but di Resta improved on that in the race.
di Resta, along with his teammate Gary Paffett, got a great start, and moved up to sixth -- with Paffett sixth -- on the opening lap, from ninth on the grid. With Kristensen's penalty, he was promoted to fifth, and he took fifth from the 2008-spec Audi of Oliver Jarvis through the pit stops.
"After my disappointing qualifying I am happy with my fourth-place finish today," de Resta said. "We had a good strategy and our team completed two perfect pitstops. We achieved the best possible result."
Paffett stayed with di Resta, crossing the line just half a second adrift of his teammate. Spengler was sixth in the third of the works-spec Mercedes, but nearly 20 seconds behind di Resta and Paffett.
Behind Spengler, Oliver Jarvis looked set for seventh, but spun off at the chicane with just two laps remaining, letting Maro Engel through. On the same lap, teammates Alexandre Premat and Mike Rockenfeller tangled, taking each other out and apparently gifting eight and the final point to Jamie Green in the final 2009-spec Mercedes.
Green, though, was apparently so surprised by this turn of events that he did not notice Kristensen sneaking in, and Mr Le Mans took advantage, at least salvaging a point from a race that might have been so much more for him.
With Paffett held to just four points today, there is now a logjam atop the DTM drivers' standings: Ekstrom moves up into a first-place tie with Paffett with 28 points, and Scheider is looking a threat with 27. Spengler, with 23 points, and di Resta (19) are also still within striking distance as the DTM starts the second half of its season.
"It's great to be heading the standings together with Gary (Paffett) halfway through the DTM season," said Ekstrom. "We know each other well from the 2005 title fight, so the fans can definitely look forward to a thrilling second half of the season."