Estoril: Race report

Christijan Albers dramatically wins DTM race in Portugal In DTM's second run in 2004 on the Circuito do Estoril, Dutchman Christijan Albers grabbed his first win of the season. After 37 laps on the 4.183 km circuit north of Lisboa, Mercedes'...

Christijan Albers dramatically wins DTM race in Portugal

In DTM's second run in 2004 on the Circuito do Estoril, Dutchman Christijan Albers grabbed his first win of the season. After 37 laps on the 4.183 km circuit north of Lisboa, Mercedes' pilot had only a whiff of an edge towards Mattias Ekström (Audi): 0,652 seconds. As third, Martin Tomczyk (Audi) passed the finishing line, lagging by 3.898 seconds. For quite a while, Opel pilot Timo Scheider was on third, but twelve laps before finish a technical problem threw him back to sixth place.

For three days, a total 20,000 viewers saw fascinating motor sports. The highlight was Sunday's race with its numerous door to door duels all through the field of starters - especially among first placed youngsters Albers und Ekström. Bumber to bumper they fought until they crossed the finishing line.

In the midfield, a breathtaking duel was fenced between former Formula 1 drivers Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Jean Alesi. Both pilots were unwilling to give way - not even a single millimetre. Motor sports at its best. As seventh, Alesi managed to score points. Frentzen, who was driving his second DTM race ever, became twelfth. Now, a fortnight before DTM's third run on the Adria International Raceway (Italien), Christijan Albers (18 points) is leading ahead Mattias Ekström (14 points) and Gary Paffett (ten points).

With his first win of the season, Albers takes DTM lead

His first victory of this season was something Christijan Albers had to wait for. Wait until the chequered flag finally fell: For more than half the race, rival Mattias Ekström was biting the Dutchman's tail. "This victory was one I had to fight for really hard," Albers explained. "Audi was very, very strong today. I had problems with my last set of tyres. That was why Ekström came closer and closer. Fortunately, I managed to keep him behind me."

Mercedes' sporting director Norbert Haug said: "This was a remarkable DTM run with really great sports, and when driving, my boys did a superb job. Very seldomly, I have ever seen overtaking maneuvres like that of Christijan, Gary Paffett and Mattias Ekström." Haug is thereby alluding to a given scene when in the ninth lap, right at the end of the finishing straight, Albers overhauled leading Paffett and Ekström, attacking from the outside. As a result, after an unscheduled pit stop, Paffett fell back to 13. rank.

Audi trio occupies ranks two to four

Audi in good temper: After Mattias Ekström, Martin Tomczyk and Tom Kristensen had successfully occupied ranks two to four, Audi Sporting Director Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich said: "Mattias, Martin and Tom did an excellent job. We were only a glance away from winning, but Mercedes stayed on top. The most spectacular overtaking manuevres we saw are a proof for DTM's high level of performance."

Mattias Ekström was glad with his second place, but he was also just a little peeved about so closely missing victory: "Today, we would have deserved the first place. My car was better than Christijan's, but unfortunately I didn't get by him. I hoped for him making a big mistake, which was what I would have needed, but he simply made none. Stupid thing was that I went right into traffic after my pit stop and so my edge was gone. In Adria, I want to win."

Especially Martin Tomczyk had good reason to smile. Driving on third rank, he managed his best DTM result so far: "Now in my fourth year, I cut the knot. I am absolutely happy. This feels great. I gave all I could to defend my third place."

Timo Scheider: "We had the speed for a place on the rostrum"

Until lap 25, Opel's pilot Timo Scheider was straight away on his way to the rostrum. Having grabbed third position the day before, the 25-year-old defended it in the race: "When I tried to brake in corner number seven, unfortunately my throttle control got stuck and I went right into the gravel. Then, for some laps, I went a little smoother. It's a pity. My car was well on the road, and I might have brought home my third position. Still, I am happy about the performance we showed."

Opel's sporting director Volker Strycek, too, was positive in his sum-up: "We are able to go with the top's speed. All trough the race, Timo was part of the top, apart from that mishap with his throttle control. I am confident about the races to come and I am certain that we will then manage the jump on the rostrum." Opel's second best pilot was Laurent Aiello. Behind his compatriot Jean Alesi (Mercedes-Benz), Aiello became eighth, and he scored a point.


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Series DTM
Drivers Heinz-Harald Frentzen , Jean Alesi , Martin Tomczyk , Christijan Albers , Timo Scheider , Norbert Haug , Mattias Ekström , Volker Strycek , Gary Paffett