Mattias Ekström clinches DTM title for Audi UPDATE
- Captivating finale in front of record crowd at Hockenheim
- Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline wins Teams’ title
- Timo Scheider claims first podium finish in the DTM
At the finale at Hockenheim Mattias Ekström in front of a record turnout of 152,000 spectators clinched the DTM title for Audi. After 2004, the Swede won the most popular international touring car racing series for the second time. For AUDI AG, after 1990, 1991, 2002 and 2004, this is already the fifth DTM title. In addition, Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline secured a commanding title in the team classification.
"All Audi employees and Audi customers can be proud of this triumph, which is the crowning of our successful 2007 motorsport season," commented Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of AUDI AG, who witnessed the thrilling finale live at the circuit. "Winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the American Le Mans Series and the DTM in the same year is a fantastic team achievement."
After Mattias Ekström had started to the 2007 DTM season with a victory at Hockenheim in April, the Swede needed no more than a third place in the finale to win the title. After 37 captivating laps the Audi driver crossed the finish line in the final race by 0.434 seconds ahead of Mercedes driver Bruno Spengler, thus relegating him to the position of the runner-up in the Championship.
Straight from the beginning, Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline had focused Ekström’s strategy on Spengler. After starting from the second row, the 29-year-old took the lead on lap one. When he came under aggressive attack by Mercedes driver Jamie Green, he let him pass in a clever way without putting up much of a fight. Ekström came in very late for his two mandatory pit stops in order to have as clear a track as possible – a strategy that worked out. His rival Bruno Spengler on the other hand pitted very early for the first time and then had to tediously make up ground.
Ekström managed to keep Spengler at bay in the final phase, although he was complaining about extreme oversteer throughout the race. With a flawless drive and perfect pit stops by his team the feat of clinching the Championship was performed nonetheless.
The set-up of his team colleagues Timo Scheider and Martin Tomczyk was better for the temperatures that were considerably higher during the race than they had been on the practice days and in the warm-up. Scheider claimed second place, which is the best result so far in his DTM career and first ever podium finish. Tomczyk, who had chances of winning the title prior to the finale as well, became entangled in a collision on the starting lap through no fault of his own, which caused him to drop back to the rear of the field. The fact that he still managed to make up ground again to ninth place, and thus into the points, shows how quick his Red Bull Audi A4 DTM was in the race.
Tom Kristensen completed Audi’s triumph at Hockenheim by finishing sixth. Lucas Luhr (Audi Sport Team Rosberg) in twelfth place was the best driver of an A4 from last year. His teammate Mike Rockenfeller ran out of fuel on the lap of his second scheduled refueling stop.
Quotes after the race
Dr Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): "It was a great finale for the spectators with thrilling touring car racing at its best from the beginning to the end. Mattias (Ekström) took the decision into his own hands and managed to bring home the title. I think we deserve the championship and are a worthy champion. We did a great job. I want to thank all the members of the teams who had a part in this. Unfortunately, this was not a rewarding race for Martin (Tomczyk) – he suffered a lot of misfortune this weekend, although he was strong."
Timo Scheider (Gebrauchtwagen:plus/Top Service Audi A4 DTM #8)
2nd place, + 3.696s
"That was really cool – I didn’t know on what side of the podium I had to climb. Right or left? I’m not that familiar with the conditions up there, but now I know that I want to be up there more often in future. My car was sensational after I was having a bit of trouble during the warm-up. My thanks go to Audi and Abt! The race was eventful. I had a good start and took the lead. Then a group of us were approaching the hairpin, which was very tight. I was very careful and watching Martin (Tomczyk). I ran wide, across the curbs, to make room for him, something that Jamie Green obviously didn’t do. At some point I had to leave the grass again to return to the track and brushed him. Martin says it was less my fault than Jamie’s."
Mattias Ekström (Red Bull Audi A4 DTM #3)
3rd place, + 7.235s
"My race was very difficult from the beginning. When the situation had calmed down a little bit I was able to drive very fast and the car was good. But after six, seven laps it started oversteering. It got worse and worse. I fought and fought – and, still, the situation got really close in the end. That I managed to see the checkered flag in front of Bruno (Spengler) was simply nice. So far I haven’t even really relished the feeling because the race was so exciting. I’ll only be able to truly fathom this exploit a few hours from now."
Hans-Jürgen Abt (Team Director Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline): "I think this was one of the greatest days in my life, for Audi, for Dr Wolfgang Ullrich. Together, we proved our potential. We brought the title home to Ingolstadt, Neckarsulm and Kempten. We’re simply celebrating now, because we’re so incredibly happy. I want to thank Audi and the entire team. And everyone who believed in us. In motorsport you can only clinch a title like this if there are people who stand behind you. Today we were the ‘brand of hearts’. That’s why I’m saying: we deserve the title!"
Ernst Moser (Team Director Audi Sport Team Phoenix): "We achieved what we wanted to achieve together. My sincere congratulations to Audi on winning the Championship! It was a tough fight with Mercedes. We were able to make a small contribution to the positive result that came out in the end. Our own speed today wasn’t enough. We made the best of it even though that wasn’t all that much for the team."
Arno Zensen (Team Director Audi Sport Team Rosberg): "Sensational – Audi is the Champion. Today we were able to contribute something to that as a team. The strategy was top-notch. Unfortunately, ‘Rocky’ stopped on the track with an empty tank and we need to find out why that happened. But he, too, contributed his share to the fact that we’ve got a reason to celebrate today – and that was great. My thanks to the whole squad and to Audi."
The result at Hockenheim
1 Jamie Green (Mercedes), 37 laps in 1h00m19.948s
2 Timo Scheider (GW:plus/Top Service Audi A4 DTM), + 3.696s
3 Mattias Ekström (Red Bull Audi A4 DTM), + 7.235s
4 Bruno Spengler (Mercedes), + 7.669s
5 Bernd Schneider (Mercedes), + 11.079s
6 Tom Kristensen (Siemens Audi A4 DTM), + 19.658s
7 Alexandros Margaritis (Mercedes), + 23.174s
8 Paul di Resta (Mercedes), + 29.158s
9 Martin Tomczyk (Red Bull Audi A4 DTM), + 33.185s
10 Daniel la Rosa (Mercedes), + 34.792s
11 Mathias Lauda (Mercedes), + 35.753s
12 Lucas Luhr (Philips Audi A4 DTM), + 36.532s
13 Markus Winkelhock (Audi A4 DTM), + 46.171s
14 Susie Stoddart (Mercedes), + 49.560s
15 Christian Abt (Playboy Audi A4 DTM), + 57.407s
16 Alexandre Prémat (Audi Bank Audi A4 DTM), + 57.832s
17 Mika Häkkinen (Mercedes), + 1m 03.036s
18 Vanina Ickx (Audi A4 DTM), + 1m 31.967s
Mike Rockenfeller (S line Audi A4 DTM), - 5 laps (lack of petrol)
Gary Paffett (Mercedes), - 37 laps
10/14/07 "If you want to clinch the title in the DTM you’ve got to be prepared to tackle difficult challenges." Casual comments like these would come from Mattias Ekström when ending up further towards the back than the front of the grid after a qualifying practice in 2007. The 29-year-old Swede kept his word and made his title dream come true for a second time after 2004: In the final round at Hockenheim, Ekström secured the triumph in the most popular international touring car series with a third-place finish against the strong competition from Mercedes-Benz as well as from within his own Audi squad.
Mattias Ekström, who is called "Eki" by all of his friends, does not fit the typical mould of a racer. Stereotypes like the almost obligatory residence in Monaco or a passion for fast cars and a yacht the fair-haired racer simply brushes off with a twinkle in his eye. "Monaco hardly has any trees and meadows – Moss and Lou wouldn’t like that at all," says Ekström. The two Jack-Russel terriers are the darlings of the champion and his girlfriend Tina Thörner with whom he has been living for the past ten years. After first living together in Krylbo (Sweden), the couple found a new home in Salenstein (Switzerland) some time ago.
Since the 2001 season Ekström has been contesting the DTM, first for the Audi customer team Abt Sportsline and, since 2004, as a factory driver in Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline based in Kempten. After the 1999 Swedish Touring Car Championship and the highly acclaimed first DTM triumph in 2004, the 2007 title is Ekström’s third exploit of this kind. No other current DTM driver has won more Championships for the brand with the four rings.
The private program contrasting the concentrated work with his team and the 470-hp Audi A4 DTM is a mix between speed and "deceleration": Ekström loves taking long walks with his dogs as well as touring the countryside on his bicycle and relishes the peace and quiet of his home and garden situated directly on Lake Constance. But the new DTM Champion also enjoys another side of Mother Nature: Jetski or quad excursions are also favorite pastimes of his, as well as participating in races with respective "hp monsters" that can be rather rough at times and that allow the Swede to hone his senses away from the race track.
Often his friends are part of the quick sporting action. The Swedish touring car driver Fredrik Ekblom, for example, and Martin Tomczyk in particular. The 25-year-old driver from Rosenheim is one of Ekström’s best friends – and was one of his biggest rivals this year as well. In 2001 both entered the DTM together and have been team-mates ever since. And while the world was trying to fan some flames of conflict between the two friends, at least during the fight for the title, the two of them were having fun together on Lake Constance, or while shopping in Munich. The fact that some team members – alluding to the rivalry in Formula 1 – would even call them "Lewis" and "Fernando" would make both of them laugh. Clearly, they will celebrate the Championship together as well.
After the DTM season, Ekström, who is a strict teetotaller and not famous for being a party animal, is facing a different kind of challenge: the Championship celebrations with his mechanics and the Audi Sport squad. But this should not be a problem for the Champion either. After all he says himself: "If you want to clinch the title in the DTM you’ve got to be prepared to tackle difficult challenges."
Things you didn’t know about Mattias Ekström
- A DTM Champion with versatile interests
- Direct duel with role model Michael Schumacher coming up
- Parents had racing blood in their veins as well
With a third-place finish at Hockenheim, Audi factory driver Mattias Ekström secured an early title win in the DTM, marking his second triumph in the most popular international touring car racing series after 2004. Even though Ekström is one of the world’s best touring car drivers, there are some facts you may not have known about him so far.
For example …
... Mattias Ekström failed the written part of his driving test the first time.
… passed the second time, despite having run a red light during the practical test, but the instructor didn’t notice.
… Mattias Ekström’s parents Bengt and Agneta gave their son a kart for Christmas in 1992 – the start to his career.
…only a year later, after a karting accident, Agneta paved the way for her son’s touring car début in the Renault 5 Cup because she felt that races in cars with a roof were safer.
… Mattias Ekström’s favorite dish are tiger prawns with spaghetti, tomatoes and ruccola salad.
… Mattias Ekström owns part of a bed shop in Zurich.
… Ekström’s father Bengt was a very successful rally-cross driver.
… Mattias Ekström in his free time assists young Swedish talent on their way into touring car racing.
… Mattias Ekström considers Michael Schumacher one of his role models. The reason: The German managed to form a strong team and to sustain its motivation for many years.
… the Swede will have the chance to defeat the seven-time Formula 1 Champion on 16 December: The two will compete against each other in the "Race of Champions" in London – Ekström as the title defender.
… Mattias Ekström attended the first football match of his life in a stadium before the DTM race at Barcelona. He watched the home victory of Audi’s partner FC Barcelona in the Champions League game against Lyon.
… Mattias Ekström has owned a small merchandising collection of his own since this year, including a poster, stickers and a mini torch.
… Mattias Ekström, unlike many other racers, does not attach great importance to an individual design of his helmet. The only thing he really cares about is that his favorite motto "Go hard or go home" is painted on it.
… Mattias Ekström at Oschersleben as early as in 1999 contested a race for Team Abt Sportsline in the STW Championship and finished fourth.
… Mattias Ekström’s favorite number is one. It’s the same number that is painted on his Audi A4 in the upcoming DTM season.