Mattias Ekstrom fourth despite controversial penalty
The 42,000 spectators who watched the first ever Spanish DTM race at Barcelona may well come again next year. They witnessed a spectacular battle between Audi and Mercedes-Benz, from which the Audi A4 DTM once again emerged as winner: After 58 extremely hard fought laps, the German Martin Tomczyk, who started from pole position, celebrated his first DTM victory ever at the wheel of the Red Bull A4 DTM from Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline. Heinz-Harald Frentzen took third place and in doing so claimed his second podium finish since joining Audi. Mattias Ekström rounded out the Audi triumph with his fourth position, which he claimed despite being given a controversial ‘drive-through’ penalty.
Although the Audi A4 DTM was the quickest car around the 2.949 kilometre Circuit de Catalunya during both the wet qualifying session and over the entire race distance held on a dry track, Tom Kristensen, currently second in the championship, finished ninth without scoring points. The Dane held third place after the start but was attacked harshly by title rival Bernd Schneider in his Mercedes immediately after the end of a caution period on lap six. Kristensen’s A4 sustained damage to the front end in the collision, which affected the overall performance of his car.
Schneider also cost Mattias Ekström a possible win. The Swede overtook the championship leader twice, but had to complete a controversial 'drive-through' penalty after having touched the rear of the Mercedes lightly when overtaking for the second time and Schneider suddenly hit the brakes in the hairpin. Despite the ‘drive-through’ penalty Ekström fought back to claim fourth place – and in doing so overtook Bruno Spengler, with two wins this season to his name, in spectacular fashion.
Frank Stippler (Audi Sport Team Rosberg) finally saw the back of his run of bad luck at Barcelona: He followed up his excellent qualifying performance by finishing sixth with the best 2005-spec car. With Tom Kristensen and Christian Abt (Audi Sport Team Phoenix) in ninth and tenth place respectively, a total of six Audi drivers finished in the top ten.
Timo Scheider’s race ended prematurely when he was pushed into Mika Häkkinen by Mercedes team mate Jean Alesi. Nicolas Kiesa, Pierre Kaffer and Vanina Ickx were involved in a spectacular pile-up on the opening lap, in which all three Audi A4 DTM cars were victims.
Audi driver Tom Kristensen still has a small chance of winning the title heading into the final two races in Le Mans (15 October) and Hockenheim (29 October).
Quotes after the race
Dr Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): "Our cars were able to run at a very fast pace during the race. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case for Tom (Kristensen), whose car was damaged in a collision with Bernd Schneider. We’ll have to analyse exactly what happened. It was a very hard race, and I'm of the opinion that Mattias (Ekström) was punished extremely hard for something that is usually the norm. I’m delighted that Martin (Tomczyk) has finally taken his first well-deserved DTM victory and that Heinz-Harald (Frentzen) has once again finished on the podium. Frank Stippler’s sixth place with the best 2005-spec car completed the strong Audi performance. The entire team can be pleased with this performance.”
Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline, Siemens Audi A4 DTM #7
"I made a good start and drove away at the front. Even after the Safety Car period my car handled perfectly. I drove my own race and hardly noticed what happened behind me. Maybe it was better like this, since it appeared to be very turbulent back there. At about half-distance I overtook several Mercedes drivers without any problems or contacts. The brakes lost a little efficiency towards the end, so I took things a little easier but still managed to lock my brakes twice which enabled Bernd (Schneider) to close up. However, he also made a mistake. Afterwards I was able to count down the laps to my first win.”
Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline, Veltins Audi A4 DTM #6
3rd place, + 3.469s
"That was a very interesting race. I’d hoped that Tom (Kristensen) would make a good start and make his way to the front. Afterwards the race was a little more complicated than I’d anticipated. I nevertheless drove on the limit and still managed to finish on the podium. It's a good result. The car ran very well for the entire weekend. A big thank you goes out to the complete team.”
Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline, Red Bull Audi A4 DTM #5
4th place, + 10.962s
"My car was very quick. At the beginning of the race I followed Tom (Kristensen), after overtaking him, I drove alone. The car was running perfectly. After my first pit stop I passed Bernd Schneider. I was already making up ground to Martin Tomczyk. Then the team decided on an early second stop. After that, I had to overtake Bernd once more. He slammed on the brakes in turn 1 as I was beginning to accelerate. For this, I received a drive-through penalty, which is incredible. I finished fourth in a race in which the car was very quick, but in which I had no luck at all.”
Audi Sport Team Rosberg, S line Audi A4 DTM #15
6th place, + 14.329s
"What can I say? I’m absolutely happy. I want to really thank my team. In the past few weeks we spent a lot of time talking. Anyone who’s not really intimately familiar with the situation can hardly appreciate this. My team built me up incredibly – emotionally more than physically, although that had been a problem as well. I’m happy to be able to give something back now. The boys always kept their faith in me.”
Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline, Siemens Audi A4 DTM #7
9th place, + 19.379s
"My start was good. Up to the re-start after the safety car I was sure it would be a good race. Then I had to lift my foot a bit off the throttle on the counter-straight because Heinz-Harald (Frentzen) had made a small mistake. That’s when Bernd Schneider passed me. We slightly touched each other. After this, the car was hard to drive, especially on the straight I was lacking speed. At times, I went above the limit, which caused me to make two mistakes costing me a place in the points. Too bad, today we had the chance to turn the Championship around for Audi. It’s been a tough weekend and a great disappointment.”
Audi Sport Team Phoenix, Playboy Audi A4 DTM #12
10th place, + 20.235s
"The start was very turbulent. In front of me, someone turned left, and then all hell broke loose and I had to brake. From the very rear of the field I had to push to make up ground and managed to finish tenth – not so bad, I’d say.”
Audi Sport Team Rosberg, Gebrauchtwagen:plus Audi A4 DTM #16
"It’s a shame I was forced to retire because I had a good start. Mattias (Ekström) and I were quicker in the beginning than the Mercedes drivers. In the uphill stretch I was alongside Mika (Häkkinen) but he was on the better line and I had to lift. This resulted in the excess speed of Jean Alesi on my right. I stayed on the left to brake into the hairpin. Then Alesi was also quicker than Mika, caught him in his slipstream and forced his car to the left, slamming into mine. I don’t understand it – a silly manoeuvre.”
Futurecom TME, Futurecom Audi A4 DTM #19
"Because of a mistake by Christian Abt my race was very short.”
Audi Sport Team Phoenix, Castrol Audi A4 DTM #14
"Unfortunately, my race didn’t go completely as planned today. The start was okay. I don’t know what exactly happened in the hairpin but I felt a huge bang. On the video screen I saw that half of my rear was missing. Warm congratulations to Martin (Tomczyk), who deserves his first victory and drove a great race. I’m happy for Audi having clinched such good positions although Tom (Kristensen) unfortunately didn’t score any points today.”
Futurecom TME, Original Zubehör Audi A4 DTM #20
"My start was okay, but I was on the worse side where the track was still a bit damp. Unfortunately my race was very short again, but this time it wasn’t my fault. Nicolas’ (Kiesa) and my car are both heavily damaged. Until Le Mans the team will have to work day and night. It’s a shame, this was really unnecessary.”
Hans-Jürgen Abt (Team Director Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline): "I’ve got mixed emotions. I’m happy about the super performance shown by Martin Tomczyk, who drove a great race and stayed clear of all trouble. We tried everything to turn the tables in the title fight once more but it just wasn’t meant to be. The Championship is now almost determined. But we’ll continue to fight.”
Ernst Moser (Team Director Audi Sport Team Phoenix): "The performance in the dry was good – at least Christian’s (Abt) was. Where we would have ended up with Pierre (Kaffer) we don’t know because of the accident on the first lap. With Christian we used a pretty aggressive strategy after he got stuck in traffic twice."
Arno Zensen (Team Director Audi Sport Team Rosberg): "I’m happy for Frank (Stippler). Finally, he scored the well-deserved points! And I’m upset because points would have been possible for both drivers. We, too, have mixed emotions, But we’re on the right track."
1 Martin Tomczyk (Red Bull Audi A4 DTM), 58 laps in 1h 06m 07.496s
2 Bernd Schneider (Mercedes), + 2.898s
3 Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Veltins Audi A4 DTM), + 3.469s
4 Mattias Ekström (Red Bull Audi A4 DTM), + 10.962s
5 Bruno Spengler (Mercedes), + 13.186s
6 Frank Stippler (S line Audi A4 DTM), + 14.329s
7 Daniel la Rosa (Mercedes), + 15.057s
8 Alexandros Margaritis (Mercedes), + 18.812s
9 Tom Kristensen (Siemens Audi A4 DTM), + 19.379s
10 Christian Abt (Playboy Audi A4 DTM), + 20.235s
11 Mika Häkkinen (Mercedes), + 21.640s
12 Stefan Mücke (Mercedes), + 23.629s
13 Mathias Lauda (Mercedes), + 24.463s
14 Jean Alesi (Mercedes), + 39.448s
15 Susie Stoddart (Mercedes), + 45.299s
Timo Scheider (Gebrauchtwagen:plus Audi A4 DTM), - 51 laps (collision).
Jamie Green (Mercedes), - 57 laps.
Nicolas Kiesa (Futurecom Audi A4 DTM), - laps (collision).
Pierre Kaffer (Audi A4 DTM), - laps (collision)
Vanina Ickx (Original Teile Audi A4 DTM), - 58 laps (collision)