Timo Scheider may have started from pole and led the entire race to win today's DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) event for Audi at Brands Hatch, but it was nothing like a Sunday drive in the park for the championship leader. Scheider had taken...
Timo Scheider may have started from pole and led the entire race to win today's DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) event for Audi at Brands Hatch, but it was nothing like a Sunday drive in the park for the championship leader.
Scheider had taken the pole by a tenth of a second over Paul di Resta, in spite of being slowed down by a small mistake on his hot lap, and it was di Resta he beat to the first corner after the red lights went out. Scheider initially started to pull away from di Resta, but that gap would never exceed two seconds throughout the race.
"It was a fantastic day for us," Scheider smiled. "I am very happy with my second win (of 2008), especially as I never scored a good result here in previous years. Thanks to Mercedes-Benz and especially Bernd Schneider for the fair move towards the end of the race.
di Resta put especially heavy pressure on Scheider toward the end of the race, trying to force the German into a mistake in the dying laps as the two began to lap backmarkers. Scheider kept his cool, though, and didn't slip up. As Scheider noted, lapped drivers like Bernd Schneider did not try to influence the battle at the front. At the finish, after 82 laps, the gap between the two rivals was well below a second.
Mattias Ekstrom made it two Audis on the podium in what was probably the most impressive drive of the day. Ekstrom, who struggled with gearbox problems in qualifying, had to start back from seventh place, a big disadvantage on a tight track like Brands Hatch.
However, Ekstrom and his team, Audi Sport Team Abt, chose a different race strategy from all other teams, and when the leaders pitted on lap 26, the Swede stayed out. And he stayed out yet longer -- until the single-stop pit window, coming in on lap 43. However, as the DTM rules mandate a minimum of two stops, which really meant a very short middle stint of only 15 laps -- just enough time to set the race's fastest laps.
With the clear track as a result of his strategy, Ekstrom was able to set his own pace. When he left the pits after his second stop, he was easily in third place, and just five seconds behind di Resta. He would close the gap to three seconds, but there were not enough laps remaining to make a fight of the second place.
"I came here with my eyes set on victory," Ekstrom admitted. "However, after my gearbox problem in qualifying and the subsequent seventh place on the grid, this result is all right!"
Jamie Green fought hard with Martin Tomczyk, Schneider and Bruno Spengler early in the race. However, with both Tomczyk and Spengler making agricultural excursions off the track, and Schneider receiving a penalty for a pit speed violation, Green ended up finishing a lonely fourth for Mercedes. He finished 13.879 behind Scheider but still almost twelve seconds ahead of Tomczyk's Audi. Spengler took sixth for Mercedes, ahead of Tom Kristensen (Audi) and Garry Paffett (Mercedes).
Scheider's victory builds his championship lead to nine points (54 to 45) over his Mercedes rivals -- Green and di Resta are now tied for second place, with Ekstrom just one point further back with 44 points. Three more races remain, and with the Merceds teams shedding weight after today's Audi victory, di Resta and Green will be looking to make up ground at the next round, in Barcelona in three weeks' time.