Audi managed a perfect start to the 2009 DTM season at the 100th race of the new DTM: Tom Kristensen (Denmark), Timo Scheider (Germany), Oliver Jarvis (Great Britain) and Markus Winkelhock (Germany) clinched a fourfold victory of the Audi A4 DTM and delivered the best start to a season in AUDI AG’s DTM history at the Hockenheimring in front of 91,000 spectators.
It could have even been a fivefold victory for the brand with the four rings but a puncture on the penultimate lap cost Mattias Ekström (Sweden) the win that already seemed sure. The two-time DTM Champion had been dominating the race after starting from the pole position and achieved a lead of more than ten seconds when debris on the track slit the rear left-hand tire of his Audi A4 DTM. Ekström had to come in for an unscheduled pit stop on the penultimate lap and dropped to seventh place.
For Audi, the win marked the 49th triumph at a DTM race, for Tom Kristensen the fourth after Oschersleben in 2004 and 2006 as well as Zandvoort in 2006. "Of course, Mattias (Ekström) would have clearly deserved this victory," said the 41-year-old Dane. "But I know only too well how Mattias feels now: In 2006, at Brands Hatch, I also lost a race I’d been leading with a dominant advantage almost up to the finish. But the crucial thing is that, today, only Audi drivers are on the podium. My thanks go to Audi, my team, my engineer and my boys – both pitstops were perfect."
Kristensen, who had announced on Friday that he would end his DTM career after the 2009 season, fought a duel with his team colleague from Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline, Timo Scheider, over the entire race distance. But the Le Mans record winner made no mistakes and did not offer the title defender any chance to pass him.
Oliver Jarvis was the driver primarily benefiting from Mattias Ekström’s puncture: The 25-year-old Briton in a year-old A4 of Audi Sport Team Phoenix finished third and thus clinched the first podium result of his DTM career. Markus Winkelhock (Audi Sport Team Rosberg) completed Audi’s exploit with a fourth-place finish and thus achieved his best DTM result as well.
"That was an incredibly strong team performance we showed this weekend," Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich summed up the positive result of the round. "As in the two previous years, the Audi A4 DTM was again the superior car here at Hockenheim. And Oliver (Jarvis) clinched a podium finish in last year’s A4. It was a fantastic race for Audi. It’s just a shame that Mattias (Ekström), who dominated the race, suffered such a really unfortunate mishap."
For Ekström’s team-mate Martin Tomczyk, the season opener was marked by misfortune as well: The German dropped from third to 16th place at the start but had already recovered to a place within the points when an electronic defect forced him to retire. For Alexandre Prémat and Mike Rockenfeller, the first race was just a short one: Both were entangled in a collision caused by Mercedes driver Gary Paffett on the opening lap and had to retire.
Due to a collision with Ralf Schumacher, a drive-through penalty was imposed on Katherine Legge. The Briton subsequently recovered, passed her rival Susie Stoddart, and finished the race in twelfth place.
The private team Kolles, which finished the race with its three 2007-spec Audi A4 DTM cars in eleventh, 13th and 14th place, showed a favorable performance.
The next DTM race will be held just 14 days from now at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz. In the meantime, Teams ABT Sportsline and Phoenix Racing will contest the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring with a total of four Audi R8 LMS cars. With Mattias Ekström, Mike Rockenfeller and Timo Scheider at the wheel, three DTM drivers will also start from the grid there.
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