Paul di Resta needed a victory to keep his DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) championship hopes alive, and it's the first-place trophy that he will be taking home from today's race at the Circuit de Catalunya, near Barcelona. Paul di ...
Paul di Resta needed a victory to keep his DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) championship hopes alive, and it's the first-place trophy that he will be taking home from today's race at the Circuit de Catalunya, near Barcelona.
"I probably had the fastest car in the field," di Resta reflected. "It was (part of) my goal to avoid too many risks as I didn't want to drop back in the points' standings."
di Resta started his Mercedes C-class from the second row, behind teammate Bernd Schneider and the championship leader, Audi's Scheider. The two title chase rivals took the lead from the start, dropping Schneider to third before the first corner, and the fight was on from there.
"Unfortunately, I had wheelspin at the start," Schneider rued his start. "I really had to battle for third place in the first corner."
In the lead, Scheider made his Audi A4 look as wide as the rules would allow, and while di Resta could hound him, he was unable to make his way past. Through the first pit stops, the gap never grew to a full second.
"I was having a great fight with Timo (Scheider)," di Resta recounted. "At some parts of the circuit, he was faster, but at other parts, I was. The overtaking manoeuvre was absolutely clean and Timo played along perfectly. I knew that I would have to be very close to him all the time in order to being able to start an attack at all."
With Mattias Ekstrom choosing a different strategy, he took the lead after the the leaders made their first stops on lap 15, with Scheider and di Resta slotting in behind him. On the second stint, though, di Resta had the measure of Scheider, the young Scot making his move stick with a pass into the La Caixa turn at the end of the back straightaway.
And that was it for Scheider: the German could do nothing but watch di Resta's taillights disappear into the distance, as his rival stretched out his lead, eventually getting the gap up to about five seconds, and 4.531 seconds at the finish.
"I am not at all disappointed with second place," said the Scheider after his second-place finish. "My start was good and I was able to overtake Schneider before the first corner. After that, di Resta put me under quite some pressure. He was a little bit faster and made good use of a slight gap. Being on the podium today was our goal!"
The gap between Scheider and di Resta shrank down by two points with today's race, and there are now seven points separating the two, with two races remaining. Scheider needs a second and a third place to guarantee the championship, were di Resta to win the last two remaining races -- a tough task in itself, with DTM adding another 5 kg of weight to the winning car after each race.
Meanwhile, Paul Green and Stefan Ekstrom are now effective out of the hunt; the two tangled hard and repeatedly on the final lap in their struggle for fifth place, and the end result was that Ekstrom received a 50-second penalty in lieu of a drive-through one.
After Audi protested the penalty, the stewards upped it to a disqualification, and assigned a 30-second penalty to Green as well, dropping him to eighth place. Green and Ekstrom are now 16 and 18 points behind Scheider, a daunting task given the German's consistency in scoring points this season.
Outside the championship fight, Schneider drove a steady, quiet race to finish third, moving up the field toward the end of the race. 7.2 seconds separated Scheider and Schneider at the finish.
"I couldn't really keep up with di Resta and Scheider out in front," the Mecedes-Benz veteran admitted. "I had hoped to be able to fight with Timo for second place. But unfortunately, we had a slight problem during the pit stop which cost us some time. After that, I could work with my tyres quite well and I was running pretty much on my own. For a man of my age, it is quite comfortable not having somebody right behind me all the time."
Martin Tomczyk took fourth for Audi, 4.2 seconds adrift of Schneider, followed by the 2007-spec Audis of Mike Rockenfeller and Alexandre Premat.
After Tom Kristensen's grid penalty and Ralf Schumacher's fines for pit lane violations in qualifying, the stewards were kept busy in the race as well. Apart from Ekstrom's and Green's last-lap antics, Susie Stoddart, Katherine Legge and Oliver Jarvis were all penalized. Gary Paffett, who finished 11th, raced under appeal after being initially excluded for a parc ferme violation.