Audi driver Mattias Ekström has claimed his second race victory of the DTM championship season, securing a comfortable win with an utterly dominant drive at a rain-hit Oschersleben.
It was enough to ensure that the Swede remains in mathematical contention (albeit, with long odds) for the championship race, while a charging drive to second place was good enough to give Audi stablemate an increased lead in the title race over main rival Bruno Spengler, who retired his Mercedes late in the race.
Up at the front, Ekström – who started from fourth on the grid – snatched the lead from Spengler on the eighth lap of the race, and from then on he was never headed, with the Abt Audi driver cruising to victory by over 40 seconds.
Spengler’s second-placed finish – which would have allowed him to retake the championship lead by one point over Tomczyk – looked assured until he was forced to retire in the race’s closing laps. His Mercedes began to porpoise alarmingly at the front at high speeds, possibly indicating that a shock absorber had been broken. The Canadian was spotted clattering over a chicane kerb shortly after his first pit stop.
He made his second pit stop earlier than planned, but lost over 20 seconds as his crew struggled to remove the right-front wheel. When he eventually rejoined, he was down in eleventh place and faced with a mighty challenge to scrape a points’ finish in the 14 laps of running ahead of him.
Spengler’s woes moved Tomczyk into second place, with the German having neatly worked his way up the order after a disastrous qualifying session that saw him consigned to 14th on the grid. His cause was certainly helped by a brilliant getaway that saw him gain eight places on the opening lap.
But almost as soon as he’d taken second place, he lost it by running wide at Turn 1, dropping him behind Edoardo Mortara’s older-spec Rosberg Audi. Mortara would lose the place to Tomczyk in the final round of pit stops, but finished third to claim back-to-back podium finishes after his maiden podium at last fortnight’s round at Brands Hatch.
The wet conditions certainly helped those starting further down the order, with both Gary Paffett and Christian Vietoris staging incredible recovery drives from the back of the grid to round out the top-five finishing places. both drove long opening stints in a bid to gain track position after their first pit stops, with the strategy call working a treat for both drivers.
Vietoris managed to fend off Mike Rockenfeller’s Audi by less than a second at the end of the race, the pair was followed home by Maro Engel, who finished seventh in his Mücke Mercedes after being tipped into a spin on the opening lap.
Rounding out the points was polesitter Miguel Molina, who claimed the best result of his DTM career, but it was really a case of what might have been for the Spaniard. Too eager to maintain his advantage the opening lap, his cold brakes caught him out at the tight Turn 1 after the start and he slid wide, losing his lead to Spengler. As he attempted to rejoin the race, he compounded matters by hitting Audi stablemate Timo Scheider, tipping the German into a spin.
Despite running third early on, he eventually dropped down the field and suffered another off-track moment when he ran wide at Turn 7 and speared through the kitty litter before rejoining.
In turn, Scheider staged another charging drive to climb up to fifth place before he was ordered into the pit when his engine temperatures began to climb.
Another retiree was Ralf Schumacher who, after running fourth early on ahead of Tomczyk, had a spin at Turn 1 trying to defend his position. Too eager to rejoin the action, he almost wiped out team-mate Jamie Green before being hit by the unsighted Audi of Oliver Jarvis just seconds later.
As if to underline matters, he then made contact with Filipe Albuquerque two corners later, ending both their races. Not surprisingly, stewards took a dim view of proceedings and slapped the former Grand Prix winner with a three-place grid penalty for the next round at Valencia, the penultimate round of the championship season.
2011 DTM Race of Oschersleben Final Classification (45 laps):
|Driver||Entrant / Car||Result|
|1.||Mattias Ekström||Abt Audi A4 DTM 2009||1:16:14.996|
|2.||Martin Tomczyk||Phoenix Audi A4 DTM 2008||+ 42.167|
|3.||Edoardo Mortara||Rosberg Audi A4 DTM 2008||+ 43.376|
|4.||Gary Paffett||HWA Mercedes C-Class 2009||+ 53.184|
|5.||Christian Vietoris||Persson Mercedes C-Class 2008||+ 53.873|
|6.||Mike Rockenfeller||Abt Audi A4 DTM 2009||+ 54.795|
|7.||Maro Engel||Mücke Mercedes C-Class 2008||+ 56.504|
|8.||Miguel Molina||Abt Audi A4 DTM 2008||+ 1:04.593|
|9.||Oliver Jarvis||Abt Audi A4 DTM 2009||+ 1:22.704|
|10.||David Coulthard||Mücke Mercedes C-Class 2008||+ 1:25.008|
|11.||Jamie Green||HWA Mercedes C-Class 2009||+ 1:27.514|
|12.||Rahel Frey||Phoenix Audi A4 DTM 2008||1 lap behind|
|13.||Bruno Spengler||HWA Mercedes C-Class 2009||3 laps behind|
|DNF.||Timo Scheider||Abt Audi A4 DTM 2009||25 laps|
|DNF.||Filipe Albuquerque||Rosberg Audi A4 DTM 2008||11 laps|
|DNF.||Ralf Schumacher||HWA Mercedes C-Class 2009||9 laps|
|DNF.||Renger van der Zande||Persson Mercedes C-Class 2008||6 laps|
|DNF.||Susie Stoddart||Persson Mercedes C-Class 2008||2 laps|
[Images via DTM official site]