In front of the eyes of Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, the Chairman of the Management Board of the Volkswagen Group, Mattias EkstrÃ¶m delivered a perfect weekend: pole position, victory and fastest lap. The Swede took the lead at the start, managed to extend the gap to his rivals, achieved an advantage of up to six seconds, and then continued to control the pace in blazing heat of almost 30 degrees centigrade in the shade and track temperatures of about 50 degrees.
"If you haven’t won for such a long time you can really feel how sweet victory is," said EkstrÃ¶m after clinching his 14th exploit in the most popular international touring car racing series – and his first after the race at Le Mans in October 2008. "Today, everything worked perfectly. My thanks go to Audi and Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline. The tires held up too. I was a little worried when I felt some vibrations – but that was just pick-up on the tires. The ten points for the championship really feel good."
The crucial factor on the 4.005-kilometer circuit at Valencia was the set-up, which Audi Sport’s technical squad managed to a T. It enabled Martin Tomczyk to advance from position nine on the grid to second with two late pit stops. "The strategy was outstanding," enthused the German who had suffered a puncture at the Hockenheim season opener while clearly leading the race. "The car was running like a charm. I was able to drive one fast lap after the other. After my second pit stop I was on the track behind ‘Eki’. I didn’t expect the race to end so well for me after starting from position nine on the grid."
For Audi, even a one-two-three win would have been possible at Valencia. But eight laps before the end of the race Oliver Jarvis coasted down without fuel pressure after a strong race and running in third place. "Of course that was a real misfortune for Oliver," said Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. "Without the problem with the fuel pressure Audi might have even achieved a one-two-three victory. Still, we can be very pleased with the results. It was a great team performance. ‘Eki’, Oliver and Martin (Tomczyk) were able to control the race."
With Alexandre Prémat, Timo Scheider and Mike Rockenfeller in places four, five and seven, three other Audi drivers finished in the points. Prémat (Audi Sport Team Phoenix) fought a fierce duel with Mercedes driver Gary Paffett in the early stages, which continued to be the subject of discussions after the race. "I’ve got no reason to apologize, that was 50:50," said the Frenchman who in fourth place barely missed a podium finish.
Miguel Molina, as well, was battling with Gary Paffett – and not just once, but twice: in the first act, the 21-year-old local hero pushed passed the Briton’s Mercedes in a surprise attack. On the final lap Paffett countered and grabbed eighth place – and thus the final point – from Molina in a similarly tough maneuver.
Markus Winkelhock (Audi Sport Team Rosberg) had to park his Audi A4 DTM after 34 laps due to a defect on the rear suspension. His team colleague Katherine Legge was unable to contest the race due to an infection.
In the drivers’ standings Mattias EkstrÃ¶m with 13 points moved up with a one-point gap to Bruno Spengler (14 points). The next DTM race will be held two weeks from now at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz.