|August 1, 2004
Audi Driver Ekström Takes Back DTM Lead
Mattias Ekström has kept his promise of recapturing the DTM lead for Audi at the Nürburgring. Before a perfect turnout (103,000 spectators during the weekend), the Swede in his Audi A4 DTM clinched second place, now leading the overall standings by five points ahead of the previous leader, Christijan Albers. Though Ekström had fallen back to third place right after the start, he managed to move back to second as early as in the first lap. Over the whole distance, the Audi works driver stayed on the heels of Gary Paffett, the ultimate winner of the race, whilst avoiding any unnecessary risk that might have jeopardized his aim of recapturing the lead of the standings. Tom Kristensen, as well, delivered a strong performance: the Dane in his Audi A4 DTM fought his way up to fifth place after starting from grid position nine. The other four Audi drivers were involved in collisions right in the starting lap, which frustrated any ambitions they'd had for the race.
Quotes after race
Mattias Ekström (Audi Sport Team Abt / Audi A4 DTM #5) 2nd place, + 2.190s
Tom Kristensen (Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline / Audi A4 DTM #12) 5th place, + 24.722s
Emanuele Pirro (Audi Sport Infineon Team Joest / Audi A4 DTM #44) 11th place, + 40.122s
Christian Abt (Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline / Audi A4 DTM #11) 13th place, + 1m 15.514s
Frank Biela (Audi Sport Infineon Team Joest / Audi A4 DTM #45) retired (result of crash)
Martin Tomczyk (Audi Sport Team Abt / Audi A4 DTM #6) retired (result of crash)
Hans-Jürgen Abt (Team Director Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline): "Mattias simply drove another sensational race. It's too bad he fell back by one position at the start. This made him lose a relatively large amount of time in the first lap. And if you lose time, you simply have no chance against someone like Gary Paffett. Both of them were - yet again - in a class by themselves. A 23-second lead over the third-placed driver, that says it all. Congratulations to both of them!"
Ralf Jüttner (Technical Director Audi Sport Infineon Team Joest): "A meagre reward for lots of hard work: after the first lap, the race was actually finished for us. Frank suffered damage to one of his radiators in the chaotic events following the start, forcing him to retire. With Emanuele, we had been planning all along to keep him on the track for as long as possible in his first stint. He got entangled in the collisions as well and was subsequently hampered by damage to the front of his car. Nevertheless, despite his damaged car, he put up a remarkable fight with dogged determination."
Dr Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport: "Unfortunately, we lost three cars very quickly. Yet those remaining in the race truly gave their best. Mattias drove a fantastic race. Perhaps we should have called him to the pits one lap earlier but, at the end of the day, that wasn't the decisive factor. Tom, also, managed to move from the rear to the front very well. It's true that we didn't win the race, as we had planned to. But now we're again leading the championship, and that's a result we can certainly be satisfied with."