Start-to-finish win for Audi and Mattias EkstrÃ¶m in Italy Mattias EkstrÃ¶m scored a convincing win in his Audi A4 DTM in the third race of the 2004 DTM season at the Adria International Raceway. The Swede edged Mercedes driver Christijan Albers...
Start-to-finish win for Audi and Mattias Ekstr?m in Italy
Mattias Ekstr?m scored a convincing win in his Audi A4 DTM in the third race of the 2004 DTM season at the Adria International Raceway. The Swede edged Mercedes driver Christijan Albers into second place after 47 laps on the 2.702 kilometre-long race track. The time difference between the two was 3.1 seconds.
Former Formula 1 driver Jean Alesi (AMG-Mercedes C-Klasse) came third, 10.1 seconds adrift of the winning pace. Crossing the finish line hot on the heels of the first three were Mercedes driver Gary Paffett and Timo Scheider in an Opel Vectra GTS V8.
Quadruple DTM champion Bernd Schneider (Mercedes) and 1997 Formula 1 runner up Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Opel) demonstrated the quality of the field. DTM newcomer Frentzen defended his 11th place against the DTM record holder for more than eight laps before Schneider eventually overtook him on the 38th lap. "That was a wonderful duel with Bernd. Touring car racing is really fun when it's fair like that," said Heinz-Harald Frentzen.
The youngsters of the DTM are leading in the overall standings going into the fourth race of the DTM at the Eurospeedway Lausitz in three weeks' time. The 25-year-old Christijan Albers leads with 26 points, followed by Mattias Ekstr?m (25 years old, 24 points), Gary Paffett (23, 15 points) and Martin Tomczyk (22, 11 points).
Mattias Ekstr?m was nervous towards the end
"Ten laps before the finish I thought that if everything goes smoothly I can wrap up with a victory," said Mattias Ekstr?m. "But three laps before the end I was constantly listening to the car to see if anything was broken. I'm extremely happy with my first win of the season as I haven't made it to the very top of the podium since Zandvoort in 2002. It was a perfect race. From the start to the pitstop, strategy, chequered flag.....everything was right."
Audi motorsports head Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich: "We are happy and proud to have already won in the third race since our comeback as a factory-backed team because this can in no way be taken for granted given the high standard in the DTM. Mattias can be especially proud of himself. His success here at Adria also gives the whole team a lot of motivation. "
Vice champion Christijan Albers continues to lead standings
"We achieved the maximum today. With a bit of luck we could even have won," second-placed Christijan Albers summed up. "I am satisfied because I'm still leading in the championship." Mercedes-Benz motorsports head Norbert Haug said: "Congratulations to Mattias and the Abt team. It was very close today. Three of our cars ranked between second and fourth position and Bernd Schneider clinched the fastest race lap."
"I'm very satisfied with this performance. Stefan M?cke and the Persson team also did a great job because if you come seventh in one of the previous year's cars then that's like a victory in a new car. I am convinced that we've got a fantastic season ahead of us with many great duels."
Local hero Jean Alesi: "That was a very tough race. After the first pitstop I had a problem with the brake pedal and that's why I let Christijan pass. Because of that I'm more than satisfied with third place."
Opel youngster Timo Scheider is confident going into the next race
"I'm satisfied because I've got better in each of the first three races of the new season," the fifth-placed Opel driver Timo Scheider summed up. "My car was really very good during the race to the extent that I was able to move up into fifth place from ninth, and my lap times were almost identical to those at the top. I'm confident about the next race at the Lausitzring because that's where we were very strong last year with Peter Dumbreck's second place."
The 25-year-old Scheider gained much praise from Opel sports head Volker Strycek: "Timo drove a fantastic race, as did Laurent Aiello who was able to move up into sixth place from the back of the field, and also Heinz-Harald in his duel with Bernd Schneider. We must work on becoming better in qualifying. If you don't start from the front then it's almost impossible to drive to the fore in a race when the competition is so close."