Timo Scheider wins DTM title
In front of the DTM record crowd of 165,000 fans, the Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg was the scene of a heart-beat finale. At 3.02 pm, fireworks accompanied Audi driver Timo Scheider on his final meters towards the finish line and towards his most important title in motorsport to date, the 2008 DTM champion. After a perfect race with an excellent start, tactically planned pit stops and a margin of 3.062 seconds after 37 laps, the 29-year old could hardly believe his luck.
|Timo Scheider's Audi|
“This is the most important day of my life in motorsport. I thank my family and my team. To my son, I want to say: ‘Loris, I love you’“, said the emotional winner. Audi’s motorsport director Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich was also excited and already planned his activities for the evening:
“Tonight, we will have a party, and a good one.”
For Scheider, it was his third win in his 88th DTM race in seven years. Scheider’s main rival Paul di Resta from Scotland finished second. The Mercedes- Benz driver closed up to the new champion until the final lap, but couldn’t overtake him and thus became runner-up, both in the race and in the final points’ standings. Third place went to British driver Jamie Green (Mercedes-Benz). DTM record champion Bernd Schneider (Mercedes-Benz) ended his 237th and last DTM race in sixth place.
The final started with a bang. Scheider had an excellent start and took the lead from third on the grid. Pole sitter and fellow Audi driver Mattias Ekström from Sweden stayed ahead of the di Resta, who was now third. On lap three already, the Scot overtook Ekström, who eventually came home seventh, and started catching up Scheider. But although di Resta was up to seven tenths of a second faster at times, strong nerves and a tactical masterpiece enabled Scheider to retain his position and to secure the winner’s trophy for 2008 in the most popular international touring car series. The race was attended by numerous VIPs like Reiner Calmund, Sven Ottke and Mika Häkkinen.
There is also reason to celebrate for two more drivers. Audi driver Mike Rockenfeller was the best-placed driver with a year-old car in the DTM final and ended up ninth. British driver Gary Paffett had scored the best results over the season with a used car and got the prize for the best-placed driver with a year-old car.
In the final standings of the 2008 DTM, Timo Scheider is first with 75 points from di Resta (71) and Mattias Ekström (56 points), the 2007 champion. In the teams’ classification, the title went to Mercedes-Benz Bank AMG with 109 points from the Audi Sport Team Abt (102).
Timo Scheider (2008 DTM champion, Audi Sport Team Abt): “This is the most beautiful day of my life in motorsport. The final lap was full of emotions, a feeling one can hardly describe. I have also thought about the guys in my team, who have put in a night shift today to get my car ready. And, of course, about my family. They have witnessed how I have been thinking every second of the past few weeks only about this race. I have wished nothing more than this title and I didn’t want to loose it in the last race. Now, I would rather be standing somewhere at the back and realize what I have achieved. I knew how difficult it would be and therefore, I had put everything at the start. That worked out fine. I have a hard time behind me and I thank Dr. Ullrich, who has given me a chance at Audi.”
Paul di Resta (2nd place, AMG Mercedes): “Of course, first of all, I want to congratulate Timo. We have made a strong comeback during the season, but unfortunately, we just weren’t strong enough. It was not nice that Mattias Ekström tried to push me off the track twice. But I am happy with second place as well. Moreover, I can be back again next year and do one better. But now, all this is finished and tonight, we will have a party for Bernd Schneider before he retires.”
Jamie Green (3rd place, Salzgitter AMG Mercedes): “Also from me congratulations to Timo for this well deserved title. I am quite happy with my results, but with two wins in one season, one also wants to battle for the title. In today’s race, Mattias Ekström has made the way clear as he blocked Paul di Resta and I just went through. Later on, I backed off, because I wanted to give Paul the best possible chance to attack Timo.”
Audi-Motorsportchef Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich: “There were ups and downs. Yesterday, Timo damaged his car while hopping over the curbs, which is not the best way to start into the decisive race. In front of this great crowd, the situation was really tense, and of course, we wanted to stage a great performance. Timo had it all in his hands to decide it all himself. He succeeded and that makes him a worthy champion who has done an excellent job against the strongest rival one can imagine. Here, we have established a new record crowd and that underlines the status of this championship. Nevertheless, we will soon sit down and see what we can still improve.”
Mercedes-Benz motorsport director Norbert Haug: “I am genuinely happy for Timo as he has had a really hard time. Timo is a good and amiable guy and a worthy champion, but one couldn’t have said much else about Paul. But I am also happy with this season and with our performance, the spectators got to see a great final. Paul’s car was slightly damaged after the collision with Mattias Ekström. But it is hypothetic to guess what could have been without that problem. We have claimed the silver medal for drivers, but the gold medal for teams and with our C-Classes we have scored more points than our rivals.
We can be proud of that and we will celebrate it. We really have been fighting hard for it.”