DTM: Audi driver Ekstrom third after a great chase Audi driver Mattias Ekstrom again captured a position on the podium in the penultimate round of the DTM (German Touring Car Masters) at Zandvoort in the Netherlands, making it his fourth for...
Audi driver Ekstrom third after a great chase
Audi driver Mattias Ekstrom again captured a position on the podium in the penultimate round of the DTM (German Touring Car Masters) at Zandvoort in the Netherlands, making it his fourth for the 2003 season. Though he fell back to 12th place at the start, the Swede finished third after an amazing chase and spectacular passing maneuvers. "Unfortunately, Martin Tomczyk's engine stalled at the start, and he was sitting right in front of me," explained the Swede about the start scenario. "I played it safe in order to avoid an accident, but I lost a lot of places in doing so." Ekstrom fought his way out of the pack with some passing maneuvers that were well worth seeing. "I had given up believing that I could manage a place on the podium. But things worked out thanks to a perfect strategy and very good pit stops. I fought very hard and gave it my all." With 38 points on fourth place, Ekstrom is the best placed Audi driver heading into the final race at Hockenheim.
Karl Wendlinger, too, had reason to celebrate at the Circuit Park in Zandvoort. The Austrian finished for the first time this season in the points - and that with a car from last year. Wendlinger started from 12th position. "It really takes a load of my mind," said the 34-year-old Audi driver. "I had to wait a long time for such a successful result, but I never gave up working hard for it."
Martin Tomczyk was not as lucky. The Audi Junior was not able to convert his second starting position into success story after having stalled the engine in his Abt Audi TT-R at the start. In a thrilling qualifying on the day before, the 21-year-old secured a position on the front row of the starting grid with a distance of only a five thousandths of a second behind the pole position. "The failed start was my own fault," said Tomczyk. Later the Audi Junior was tangled up in a pit-lane collision that damaged the hood of his Abt-Audi TT-R. "Then I noticed that the underbody began to loosen, which is why I drove into the pit. That was it." His teammate in the S line Audi Junior Team, Peter Terting, finished 14th in the turbulent race. "At the beginning everything was going well. In the phase of the first pit stops I was partly on third place. On this track you often see close fights and cars making contact with each other," said Terting. "I spun once as I wanted to let Mattias (Ekstrom) pass by and as a consequence got onto the dirty part of the track but was able to continue. Later I found my rythm again and was able to pass Joachim Winkelhock."
Christain Abt missed finishing in the points only by a few meters. In the last lap of the race he suffered a puncture to one of the tyres of his Abt-Audi TT-R. Reigning DTM champion Laurent Aiello lost time with a long pit stop but was able to make a jump into the top ten with his ninth place finish.
Audi drivers looking forward to Miami street race
The two Audi customer teams, Infineon Team Joest and ADT Champion Racing, are looking forward to a particularly remarkable race in the American Le Mans Series. Drivers will slug it out next Saturday on a spectacular street circuit in downtown Miami (Florida). Further highlights of the "Grand Prix Americas" include a round of the Champ Car World Series and a concert with superstar Elton John.
"Street racing is in principle something very special, and the atmosphere in Miami is simply awesome," says Audi driver Frank Biela, who leads in the drivers' points standings with his partner Marco Werner heading into the last two races in Infineon Team Joest's Audi R8. The two are traveling to Miami with an 18-point lead. "Regardless, I'm not just thinking about driving home points," emphasizes Marco Werner. "I have too much fun winning to be able to do that."
Biela/Werner have already crossed the finish line four times in the ALMS this year as outright winners. Fellow Audi drivers Johnny Herbert and JJ Lehto won two races in Team ADT Champion Racing's Audi R8. Miami is the home race for Dave Maraj's team, since they are based at Pompano Beach, located just short of 40 miles from the race track.
Not only for that reason do Lehto and Herbert want to defend their chances for the title with a third season win. "We have to win and hope at the same time that our rivals receive the least possible amount of points," says Lehto. "I have driven on many street circuits in my life," adds Johnny Herbert. "But there is almost no other track that is as narrow as Miami. There are very few chances for passing."
For that reason, the starting position in Miami plays a larger role than in other ALMS races. In addition, there is no test session on the street course. Practice and the race will take place over the course of only two days (Friday and Saturday). Because the track has been rebuilt, no team can use past data as a frame of reference. "I truly believe in the skill of our engineers and am very confident," says Ralf Juttner, Technical Director of Team Joest. "However, the weekend will be very tough for the whole team due to the expected heat and the high humidity."
Audi Motorsports in numbers
Zandvoort (NL), 21 September, Round 9 of the DTM
1 Christijan Albers (Mercedes) 36 laps in 59m 40.840s
2 Bernd Schneider (Mercedes) + 5.337s
3 Mattias Ekstrom (Abt-Audi TT-R) + 14.478s
4 Manuel Reuter (Opel) + 14.975s
5 Jean Alesi (Mercedes) + 15.368s
Positions after 9 of 10 rounds: 1 Schneider, 65 points; 2 Albers, 64; 3 Fassler, 51; 4 Ekstrom, 38; 5 Aiello, 37.
Next race: Hockenheim (D), 5 October
Coming up this week
Round eight of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) in Mami (Saturday) -- Finale of the Swedish Touring Car Championship (STCC) at Mantorp Park (Sunday) -- Audi STCC driver Tobias Johansson turns 31 on Thursday --