|AUDI CONQUERS THEM ALL
20 September 2004
Audi works driver Mattias Ekström achieved a dominant victory in the penultimate race of the DTM season at Brno, locking in his title even before Europe’s most popular touring car series will draw to a close this year.
35,000 spectators had turned out at the demanding circuit in the Czech Republic throughout the weekend to witness another impressive performance of the Audi A4 DTM and Audi’s third consecutive 1-2 victory, completed by Tom Kristensen’s second-place finish. Emanuele Pirro – who came in fifth – claimed the best result of the season so far for Audi Sport Infineon Team Joest. Audi Sport Team Abt secured an early first place in the DTM teams’ standings as well, despite the fact that Martin Tomczyk’s chances for a second-place finish were destroyed when he was forced to retire after being touched by a rival. In addition, Audi have assumed the lead in the manufacturers’ standings prior to the finale at Hockenheim on 3 October.
With their early title win in the DTM, AUDI AG are continuing their impressive series of superior exploits in motorsport. Last weekend, the Audi R8 celebrated its 50th victory in its 60th sportscar race. Now, the brand’s return to the DTM at factory level has resulted in Audi immediately claiming the title with the A4 DTM car.
Quotes after the race
Mattias Ekström (Audi Sport Team Abt / Audi A4 DTM #5)
“It’s always been my biggest dream to clinch the title in the DTM. Today, I’m simply overjoyed. My thanks go to Audi Sport for the fantastic Audi A4 DTM, to my Team Abt Sportsline for their perfect performance in the pits and to my team-mates for all the backing they’ve given me during the season. I know people are saying that I tend to avoid long parties – today, I’ll prove them wrong, though.”
Tom Kristensen (Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline / Audi A4 DTM #12)
2nd place, + 2.313s
“Mattias is a truly deserving champion. He’s a great guy. He’s a natural talent. He has car control. And he’s got lots of experience in the DTM and in the team. These are five things he’s put together perfectly. And if a Dane has so many positive things to say about a Swede, that really means something. Today, my A4 was better than ever. This has enabled me to complete Audi’s 1-2 victory.”
Mattias Ekström wins championship with Abt-Audi Gary Paffett (C-Klasse AMG-Mercedes) finished third in the ninth and penultimate round of the 2004 DTM at Brno, Czech Republic. After 30 laps, Paffett came home 5.4sec behind winner Mattias Ekström (Audi A4 DTM). Ekström thus secured the DTM title two weeks before the final round at Hockenheim. Christijan Albers (DaimlerChrysler Bank AMG-Mercedes) who like Paffett had had championship hopes before the race, retired on lap 14 due to a locking left front wheel following a collision. Jean Alesi (AMG-Mercedes) ended up eighth. Bernd Schneider (Vodafone AMG-Mercedes) who had qualified 15th came home tenth. Behind overall leader Ekström who has 71 points Paffett is now second with 51 points ahead of Albers with 48. 35,000 spectators attended the event during the weekend. Albers was second on the grid. After the start he made a mistake under braking at the first corner and lost one position to Martin Tomczyk (Audi A4 DTM). After the opening lap Paffett was eighth and Alesi twelfth. Schneider dropped to 18th following a coming together with Laurent Aiello (Opel) and a spin.
Albers and Paffett made their first pit stops on lap six. One lap later, Martin Tomczyk (Audi A4 DTM) exited the pits immediately ahead of Albers. When the Dutchman tried to pass the Audi, both cars touched and Tomczyk retired. Albers received a drive-through penalty and also damaged his car. He pitted for the penalty on lap 11 and retired three laps later due to a locking left front wheel following as a consequence of the collision.
Paffett improved to fourth position on lap 11. On the 13th lap, he made his second pit stop and left the pits side-by-side with Marcel Fässler (Opel Vectra GTS V8). Paffett passed the Swiss, improved to third which he maintained until the chequered flag. Schneider pitted again on lap 15 and finally came home tenth. Alesi came in for his second stop on lap 16 and ended up eighth.
Fässler and Frentzen shine for Opel at Brno
Opel just missed out on another podium finish on the DTM’s return to Brno in the Czech Republic on Sunday, as Marcel Fässler finished fourth, with two more Vectra GTS racecars also scoring points. Ex-Formula 1 star Heinz-Harald Frentzen scored his first points as an Opel driver, finishing sixth after a strong drive.
The weekend already got off to a positive start when Timo Scheider (OPC Team Holzer) set the fastest time in the first test session, a result backed up by Marcel Fässler (OPC Team Phoenix) in the afternoon session, which he ended second fastest, with Scheider in fourth. “I am very satisfied,” said Scheider. “We immediately found a good balance and only had to improve a few small things.”
Fässler slipped back to sixth fastest in Saturday’s free practice, the only Opel in the top 10, but bounced back when it mattered in qualifying. Fässler, Peter Dumbreck (OPC Team Phoenix) and Heinz-Harald Frentzen (OPC Team Holzer) all made it into the Super Pole by finishing in the top 10. In the Super Pole itself, Frentzen produced a stellar lap time to grab fifth position on the grid, with Fässler just a tenth of a second behind in sixth.
“I gave my all and I’m very satisfied with my best qualifying result so far,” said Frentzen. “I hope it will be possible to finish in the points from this position, because I am miffed that I haven’t been able to score a point so far. I found two tenths of a second on my Super Pole lap, so I was very pleased with that. It was a big challenge, so I am pleased to have met it so well.”
1. M.Ekström/Audi 30 laps/59m26.498s, 2. T.Kristensen +2.313s, 3. G.Paffett/Mercedes +5.407, 4. M.Fässler/Opel +9.804, 5. E.Pirro/Audi +33.220, 6. H.-H. Frentzen/Opel +38.270, 7. T.Scheider/Opel +38.774, 8. J.Alesi/Mercedes +39.421, 9. P.Dumbreck/Opel +40.283, 10. B.Schneider/Mercedes +41.239 , … 12. M.Reuter/Opel +45.451, … 15. L.Aiello/Opel +1m01.660s, … 17. J.Bleekemolen/Opel +1m10.863s.
DTM, Standings after nine of ten races:
1. Ekström 71 points, 2. Paffett 51, 3. Albers 48, 4. Kristensen 38, 5. Tomczyk 31, 6. Schneider 26, 7. Alesi 15, 8. Scheider 15, 9. Fässler 13, 10. Aiello 12, … 12. Reuter 9, 13. Dumbreck 6, 14. Frentzen 3.
DTM, next round:
01 to 03 October 2004, Hockenheim
Third consecutive pole position for Audi
For the third time in a row and for as much as the fifth in the total 2004 DTM season so far, an Audi A4 DTM car will be starting to the race from the top position on the grid. For the third time in a row and for as much as the fifth in the total 2004 DTM season so far, an Audi A4 DTM car will be starting to the race from the top position on the grid. In the qualifying session at Brno (Czech Republic), Audi works driver Mattias Ekström clinched his fourth pole position of the year, thus giving him optimum prerequisites for the race in which the Swede could be claiming the DTM title even before the season has ended. The qualifying session on the 5.403-kilometre circuit saw the Audi teams rendering a strong performance of the Audi brand as a whole: for the first time, five Audi drivers managed to get into the top ten, with the first two rows on the grid filled by three Audi A4 DTM cars.
Quotes after qualifying
Mattias Ekström (Audi Sport Team Abt / Audi A4 DTM #5)
1st place “super pole”, 1m 53.003s”My super pole lap was good, but not perfect. In the previous qualifying session, I was a bit quicker. Still, my time was good enough to clinch pole and, needless to say, I’m very happy about that. Tomorrow’s race will probably be a tough but fair fight with Christijan. He knows – as well as I do – that both of us have to make it across the finish line. “
Christijan Albers (DaimlerChrysler Bank AMG-Mercedes) will start Sunday’s ninth and penultimate round of the 2004 DTM at Brno, Czech Republic, second on the grid. In Saturday’s exciting single-lap qualifying, he set a time of 1:53.231 and was 0.228sec behind pole sitter Mattias Ekström (Audi A4 DTM) who posted a 1:53.003. With this result, the two championship leaders – Ekström has 61 points and Albers 48 – will start side by side from the first row on the grid. Gary Paffett (C-Klasse AMG-Mercedes) who is third overall with 45 points qualified seventh with a 1:53.704.
In the qualifying, Albers (1:53.558) and Paffett (1:53.569) had ended up fifth and sixth respectively seperated by 11 thousandths of a second. Jean Alesi (AMG-Mercedes) was 13th with a 1:54,147 whilst Bernd Schneider (Vodafone AMG-Mercedes) finished 15th with a time of 1:54.493. Both missed the single-lap qualifying.
Jarek Janis (Sonax Dark Dog AMG-Mercedes) achieved a 1:55.435 starting his home race 17th on the grid as the best driver with a last year’s car. He is followed by Stefan Mücke (CLK AMG-Mercedes/1:55.782), Markus Winkelhock (Original-Teile AMG-Mercedes/1:55.812) and Bernd Mayländer (CLK AMG-Mercedes/1:55.857) in the next positions. According to the rules, Mücke will start from the back of the grid after his team had changed the engine during the last event.
Christijan Albers (DaimlerChrysler Bank AMG-Mercedes), second (1:53.231): “I’m satisfied with my second position on the grid. It’s a good basis for tomorrow’s race. However, it will be not easy to win with Mattias Ekström starting ahead of me, but I will fight. I thank everybody in the team for their great efforts.”
Gary Paffett (C-Klasse AMG-Mercedes), seventh (1:53.704): “After qualifying, we made some minor changes to the set-up which unfortunately didn’t pay off. On my super pole lap I made some mistakes and therefore ended up seventh. This is not an ideal basis, but at the Lausitzring I was able to improve from seventh to first.”