Ex-Champion Mattias Ekstrom unlucky again
76,000 spectators witnessed a nerve-wracking DTM weekend at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz, in which the Audi drivers Tom Kristensen and Mattias Ekstrom played staring roles during the race. While the Le Mans record winner, in his Siemens A4 DTM, shone once again during his fight through the field to claim second as he did at the season opener in Hockenheim, ex-DTM Champion Mattias Ekstrom was again plagued by bad luck: The Swede had to retire his Red Bull A4 from second position with an empty tank two laps before the finish.
Ekstrom had already forced his way from third to second at the first corner. A perfect strategy with two late pit-stops brought the Swede into an excellent position from which to push for victory. A problem with the refuelling tank at the second pit-stop meant that Ekstrom was left without sufficient fuel in the closing laps to finish the race.
Benefiting from this was Tom Kristensen, who, after initially dropping from fifth to sixth at the start, subsequently as at Hockenheim fought his way up to third place after posting constantly fast lap times, a good strategy and perfect pit-stops. The Dane was immediately behind Ekstrom when he ran out of fuel.
Also inheriting a point as a result of Ekstroms bad luck was Martin Tomczyk, who finished eighth in his Red Bull A4 ahead of Timo Scheider, Pierre Kaffer and Frank Stippler. Heinz-Harald Frentzen was thirteenth after two bad pit-stops. Vanina Ickx finished her second DTM race ahead of her team mate Olivier Tielemans in 16th position. Christian Abt was forced to retire after losing the right-hand front wheel following his second pit-stop.
Quotes after the race
Dr Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): “As at Hockenheim we put ourselves in a position where we were able to battle for the lead despite having started from two grid positions that werent exactly ideal. Unfortunately Mattias (Ekstrom) ran out of fuel. The final refill didnt quite work as it should have. Tom (Kristensen) also had the right pace. In the end the deciding factor was whether the one or other driver could take new or used tyres at the final pit-stop. We are obviously not happy that only one of our A4s was right at the front at the chequer.
Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline, Siemens Audi A4 DTM #7
2nd place, + 1.428s
“That was a good race for me, the strategy and pit stops were perfect, which shows me that I can rely one-hundred per cent on my team. My A4 was very fast, and I was able to overtake several other drivers, which was great fun. Unfortunately, we only had a single set of new tyres with which we could play with in the race. We could have won today if wed had a second set. Even so I was quicker at the end than the leaders and Mattias, who was directly in front of me. I didnt try to overtake him, but then he suddenly slowed down, which was lucky for me and means more important points. A pair of second places isnt such a bad start to the season.
Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline, Red Bull Audi A4 DTM #4
8th place, + 26.468s
“The race, unfortunately, was not very thrilling for me. Now we need to analyse why my car was so difficult to drive. At least I did score one point even though that only happened because Mattias retired. I am sure that we will strike back at Oschersleben.
Audi Sport Team Rosberg, Gebrauchtwagen plus Audi A4 DTM #16
9th place, + 27.601s
“I had a sensational start and immediately gained a few places. The race went well, and so did the first pit stop. The second set of tyres was good also, but I got caught behind Jean Alesi and ruined my tyres. We wanted to overtake him in the pits but he stopped on the same lap. Unfortunately, we had a problem during the second pit stop and dropped behind because of that. We lost a seventh place today that we almost had in our pocket.
Audi Sport Team Phoenix, Castrol Audi A4 DTM #14
10th place, + 30.003s
“I look back on my race with mixed emotions. We did a good job throughout the weekend and I feel very comfortable being part of Audi Sport Team Phoenix. My start and the pace in the race were good but, unfortunately, that little bit of racing luck was not on our side today. I feel that were very close and therefore look forward to the next race already.
Audi Sport Team Rosberg, S line Audi A4 DTM #15
11th place, + 32.903s
“The result could have clearly been better even though the drivability of my car wasnt as convincing as usual today. We had the same turn-in-oversteer as we did in the qualifying practice. My start was good but in the midst of my Audi colleagues I wasnt able to take any risk, of course. Thats why I lost a bit of ground in the first corner. I had a hard time overtaking and lapping from my position during the course of the race. With a better qualifying result, the situation would have been different.
Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline, Veltins Audi A4 DTM #6
13th place, + 47.436s
“This wasnt a good day for our team. I didnt get up to the right speed the whole weekend. We carefully need to analyse the reasons.”
Futurecom TME, Original Zubehor Audi A4 DTM #20
16th place, – 1 lap
“In the beginning of the race there was a misunderstanding with my team-mate. Then I received a drive-through penalty and lost another lap. Added to this was a poor pit stop. I do hope that Ive finally put my misfortune behind me now.
Futurecom TME, Futurecom Audi A4 DTM #19
17th place, – 1 lap
“Im disappointed because I had a bad start. Then Vanina and I had a collision, which was too bad of course. I apologised to her. When my team sent me a radio message later, I understood it to mean that I was supposed to pit, which I did of course. What theyd really meant, though, was for me to turn on the pit stop lamp in the side window a misunderstanding.
Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline, Red Bull Audi A4 DTM #5
18th place, – 2 laps (lack of fuel)
“My race was going well for a long time. At some stage I wasnt quite as fast as Mika Hakkinen and Bernd Schneider, but we had opted for another strategy. It was very close. We were able to overtake Hakkinen in the pits but to Schneider we later lost a place. I could have finished as the runner-up but, unfortunately, retireddue to lack of fuel. Scoring no points in two races now makes it very difficult for me in the Championship.
Audi Sport Team Phoenix, Playboy Audi A4 DTM #12
Retired 29th lap (lost right front wheel)
“I had a very good start and was already behind Tom Kristensen when Alex Margaritis hit me. After that I wasnt able to drive any more good times. Unfortunately, the right front wheel wasnt tightened properly during my pit stop. Nevertheless, Im optimistic because we took a great step forwards during the qualifying. In the race you also need a bit of luck, and that was simply lacking in my case today.
Hans-Jurgen Abt (Team Director Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline): “The weekend was fair to middling for us but considering our starting positions we got Tom Kristensen to finish far at the front. I feel very sorry for Mattias (Ekstrom), though. The reasons for his retirement we need to analyse carefully. Weve managed extremely quick pit stops. Apparently this reduces the flow time of the fuel in a critical range.
Ernst Moser (Team Director Audi Sport Team Phoenix): “The race started well. With the first stop, we enabled Pierre to move forwards. When he got into traffic, we made him pit but at that time our competitors were changing their tyres as well. Unfortunately a front wheel got jammed at Pierre´s car, which caused us to lose one or two points. Christian even had a bigger misfortune than this, because his A4 was lowered although the wheel had been tightened then he lost it. That is a very sobering experience and a poor result.
Arno Zensen (Team Director Audi Sport Team Rosberg): “Timo Scheider would have finished in seventh place, but we made a strategic mistake. Frank lost some time in the beginning. After his tyre change he was quick but he was repeatedly held up in traffic and ruined his tyres in the process. His times were okay but with the result Im of course not satisfied.
1 Bernd Schneider (Mercedes), 48 laps in 1h 03m 35.042s
2 Tom Kristensen (Siemens Audi A4 DTM), + 1.428s
3 Mika Hakkinen (Mercedes), + 3.749s
4 Jamie Green (Mercedes), + 3.889s
5 Bruno Spengler (Mercedes), + 4.410s
6 Alexandros Margaritis (Mercedes), + 8.924s
7 Jean Alesi (Mercedes), + 23.549s
8 Martin Tomczyk (Red Bull Audi A4 DTM), + 26.468s
9 Timo Scheider (Gebrauchtwagen:plus Audi A4 DTM), + 27.601s
10 Pierre Kaffer (Castrol Audi A4 DTM), + 30.003s
11 Frank Stippler (S line Audi A4 DTM), + 32.903s
12 Stefan Mucke (Mercedes), + 43.864s
13 Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Veltins Audi A4 DTM), + 47.436s
14 Mathias Lauda (Mercedes), + 1m 05.150s
15 Susie Stoddart (Mercedes), + 1m 17.449s
16 Vanina Ickx (Original Zubehor Audi A4 DTM), – 1 lap
17 Olivier Tielemans (Futurecom Audi A4 DTM), – 1 lap
18 Mattias Ekstrom (Red Bull Audi A4 DTM), – 2 laps (fuel)
19 Daniel la Rosa (Mercedes), – 16 laps
20 Christian Abt (Playboy Audi A4 DTM), – 20 laps (right-hand front wheel loose)