Abt Sportsline scores valuable points in dramatic DTM-race The Austrian guest appearance of the DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) at the A1-Ring Austria will most likely make it into the history of the DTM as the most spectacular and the most...
Abt Sportsline scores valuable points in dramatic DTM-race
The Austrian guest appearance of the DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) at the A1-Ring Austria will most likely make it into the history of the DTM as the most spectacular and the most unbelievable race and will be good for a lot of discussion for a long time to come. 34,000 excited spectators watched how the title race came to a dramatic highlight. Among the main actors were once more the two Abt drivers Laurent Aiello (France) and Mattias Ekström (Sweden).
The qualification race, that lasted only eight laps, already indicated that the action has become closer up in the final sprint of the DTM. Mercedes-driver Bernd Schneider forced his way past arch rival Laurent Aiello while still on the first lap and thus made up one point on the Frenchman, because positions remained unchanged until the finish. Mattias Ekström celebrated his second victory in a qualification race from Schneider and Aiello.
Then, there was plenty of action on the main race, which took the 21 drivers on 24 laps through the province of Styria. Laurent Aiello, who already had his first match point in the title race at the A1-Ring, had to cope with almost each one of the ten Mercedes-Benz during the race. On the first corner already, Aiello was taken into a sandwich and thus initially dropped back to fifth. Team work and a perfect pit stop brought Aiello out ahead of Schneider again. As Mattias Ekström, who was dominantly leading during the opening stages, let his team mate pass, the title decision appeared to have been made in favour of Aiello.
But then, one action followed another: the Mercedes-line-up used their numeric domination to make life difficult for Aiello -- a measure that is part of touring car racing and always causes drama in the closing stages of a championship. A suddenly starting drizzle added some more spice with five laps to go. On the penultimate lap, Aiello was still well ahead of Schneider and thus on his way to the title, but a situation on the final corner made the Frenchman drop back to fifth. Mattias Ekström also lost out on his chances for victory because of a collision on the final lap.
While Ekström didn't score in the main race, the three points that Aiello collected at the A1-Ring could prove to be very important: before the two final races, the driver of the team from the Allgäu now has a 19 points' advantage over Bernd Schneider. In order to avoid the next match point, the Mercedes-driver would have to make up seven points on Aiello during the next race in Zandvoort.
Martin Tomczyk showed a strong performance at the A1-Ring.The 20-year old, the youngest DTM-driver, protected Laurent Aiello from the back in the main race, until he had to retire with a flat battery. Christian Abt dropped back significantly, because the left rear wheel was stuck during the pit stop. Local hero Karl Wendlinger finished 16th in his home race after a spin.
Quotes after the race
Laurent Aiello (3rd place/5th place):
"The race was just as hard as I expected, or maybe even harder. Unfortunately, I lost some positions because of my start into the main race, which wasn't excellent, and these places were difficult to make up again against the entire Mercedes-crew. But now we will prepare twice as well to get everything sorted out in Zandvoort."
Mattias Ekström (1st place/11th place):
"With this team, I feel so well that it wasn't a question for me at all that I would be fighting for Laurent in the race. Therefore, of course, I did everything to make him score as many points as possible on his way to the title. I am certain that all my team mates would do just that for me when I would be in a similar situation."
Karl Wendlinger (13th place/16th place):
"Of course, this isn't what I expected from my home race at all. In the qualification race, I had some understeer in the car, that we improved during the repair break. Unfortunately, then I dropped back again after my spin. Nevertheless, I believe that the spectators at the A1-Ring have got everything they wanted. I am certain that we will get even more fans to the track next year."
Christian Abt (12th place 12/9th place):
"This was an incredible race today. When I wouldn't have lost that much time during my pit stop, I probably would have been around there in front and I could have helped Laurent. Sometimes, other teams are complaining about the rough way of driving in the DTM, but we don't. Today, we have seen many hard fights that were at the limit and that is what motorsport has to be like according to me."
Martin Tomczyk (6th place/retired):
"After my good start into the main race, I let Laurent past again and then I tried everything to back him as well as I could. While doing so, I had some nice duels with Mercedes that were great fun. Unfortunately, then I had some problems with the electricity and I had to retire."
Hans-Jürgen Abt (team boss):
"Of course, it is a pity, when one is already champion at some stage and then still can't celebrate at the finish. Today, Mercedes has shown great team sport, albeit with an uneven balance, because they have ten cars instead of our five. Today, we gave away the first match point for the title, but we will convert the second one in Zandvoort."