Mattias EkstrÃ¶m seizes championship title in style in Brno The new DTM champion 2004 is Mattias EkstrÃ¶m. The Swede clinched his first DTM title early in the Czech city Brno with an impressive start-finish win. The Audi star now has an ...
Mattias Ekström seizes championship title in style in Brno
The new DTM champion 2004 is Mattias Ekström. The Swede clinched his first DTM title early in the Czech city Brno with an impressive start-finish win. The Audi star now has an unassailable lead in the overall standings of 20 points ahead of the season's finale at the Hockenheimring in two weeks' time. His team mate Tom Kristensen came second in Brno ahead of Mercedes-Benz driver Gary Paffett. It was the third double win for Audi in a row.
The spectators witnessed a turbulent race. While Ekström took the lead out of pole position, the second-placed Christijan Albers (Mercedes-Benz) was overtaken in the first turn by Martin Tomczyk and Tom Kristensen (both Audi). Ekström's toughest rival in the championship battle, who was 13 points behind, was able to recapture third place in the first lap.
After the first pit stop Albers then collided into Christian Abt's Audi in the first bend after the pit exit. The German spun, but was able to continue the race. There was another collision in the eighth lap amid the fight for second position, this time between Christijan Albers and Martin Tomczyk.
That was the end for the German's most promising race, while Albers was slapped with a drive-through penalty for his violation. He then had to abandon his damaged car in lap 15. The Dutchman not only dashed his hopes for the championship title, but also allowed Gary Paffett to leapfrog him into second place in the overall standings.
Opel scored a solid team performance in Brno - three Opel drivers made it into the points, four among the top 10 and Manuel Reuter clocked the fastest lap. Swiss Marcel Fässler just missed out on a podium place in his Opel Vectra GTS V8, coming fourth. Heinz-Harald Frentzen collected his first championship points after placing sixth. And Timo Scheider left Brno with two points from his seventh place.
The DTM's debut on Brno's natural race track was a great success with 35,000 spectators visiting over the weekend. The "old DTM" last staged a race in Brno in 1992. An extensive profile on the new DTM champion 2004, Mattias Ekström, can be found at www.dtm.de and www.dtm.de/media for downloading.
Mattias Ekström (1st place, Audi Sport Team Abt):
"It is a fantastic day for me. I think that was the nicest race of the season, although it wasn't easy. I tried to drive constant lap times and concentrate on bringing the car safely into the finish. It's going to be a long night today."
Tom Kristensen (2nd place, Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline):
"Congratulations to Mattias for winning the title. Not only he but also Audi and our team Abt Sportsline did a great job. Mattias was just the most consistent over the entire season. For me it's of course brilliant coming second today. There's nothing nicer than celebrating the championship with a double win."
Gary Paffett (3rd place, C-class AMG-Mercedes):
"Congratulations to Mattias. He deserved the win and the championship. For me it's a super result here, having driven from seventh into third. But it's a pity that the gap to the front was too big and that the championship is no longer an open affair. I'm now second in the overall standings and that's also where I want to be at the end of the season."
Marcel Fässler (4th place, OPC Team Phoenix):
"I had the best start of the season. The race itself was really good fun as I did some good overtaking. My second pit stop was sadly a bit botched. That cost me third place, which is a real pity."
Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, Audi Motorsport Director:
"I'm over the moon. Mattias did an excellent and flawless job the entire season and therefore truly deserved this title. I also want to thank the Abt team, which worked equally excellently. Winning the title in the first year of the works comeback is a success for Audi that one can't rate highly enough. That's because the DTM is the best and toughest touring car series in the world. I'm convinced that we'll see a fantastic race at the finale in Hockenheim in two weeks - after all, everyone will be trying to prove one more time that he's the best."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Director:
"First of all I'd like to congratulate Mattias Ekström, the Abt team and Audi Sport for their championship victory. Mattias was impressive in driving flawlessly throughout the season. We made a few mistakes here and there and that's why we didn't win the title this year. I feel sorry for Christijan Albers. He had the speed to attack, but acted a bit unfortunately. I'm sure he didn't do it on purpose, that's not his style. Gary drove brilliantly and managed to improve from start place seven into third."
Volker Strycek, Opel Sport Director:
"Well done Audi and Mattias Ekström for their title win. We are proud that three Opels made it into the points, four in the top 10 and that Manuel Reuter pulled off the fastest race lap. And we're very pleased with Heinz-Harald Frentzen's sixth place. He worked his way step by step forward and finally collected the deserved points. Compliments also to the organisers. The premiere of the new DTM in Brno was very well organized, the response from spectators impressive. I hope we come back again next year."