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- Mattias Ekström clinches first season victory for Audi
- Edoardo Mortara in fourth place after recovery
- Mike Rockenfeller and Nico Müller struck by misfortune
Ingolstadt/Zandvoort – In what was arguably the most thrilling race of the year Mattias Ekström kept a cool head and gave Audi its first victory of the DTM season at Zandvoort. For the Swede, this marked an amazing fourth triumph at Zandvoort, for Audi, it was the seventh success in eleven runs on the challenging track in the Dutch dunes.
Ekström in the Red Bull Audi RS 5 DTM started from position eight on standard tires and had the perfect strategy for the turbulent race that saw a total of four safety car periods. After changing to option tires, the Swede, within the space of just nine laps, managed to battle his way forward from position 15, overtake the BMW of Marco Wittmann, and ultimately cross the finish line as the commanding winner with an advantage of 7.414 seconds.
For Audi, this marked the 66th victory in total in a DTM race, for Ekström and Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline it was the first win since Valencia in October 2011. “A victory is always very special,” said Mattias Ekström. “But this victory is also a very special one because the last one was such a long time ago – for me, as well as for Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline. We had to wait for it for a long time, so now our joy of taking home the biggest trophy is even greater. We had a lot of misfortune in recent months. Today, we had the necessary fortune. It was important that I didn’t lose too much time in the beginning on standard tires. Afterwards, the safety cars played into our hands – and my car was very fast today.”
In fourth place, Edoardo Mortara in the Audi Sport Audi RS 5 DTM completed the successful day for Audi. The Italian had to tackle the race from the rear of the starting grid due to a violation of the rules in qualifying, recovered position by position in the beginning on option tires, and in the end successfully defended his position.
With Timo Scheider in the AUTO TEST Audi RS 5 DTM of Audi Sport Team Phoenix in tenth place, another Audi driver finished in the points. In contrast, his team-mate Mike Rockenfeller in the Schaeffler Audi RS 5 DTM of Audi Sport Team Phoenix was the tragic hero of the race. The quickest driver in qualifying was headed for victory for a long time, but deprived of all chances due to the safety cars, and in the end took only 16th place.
Youngster Nico Müller in the Audi Financial Services Audi RS 5 DTM of Audi Sport Team Rosberg was struck by major misfortune as well. Running in second place behind Rockenfeller some of the time, he was bumped off track on lap 26 by Mercedes driver Christian Vietoris. His team-mate Jamie Green in the Hoffmann Group Audi RS 5 DTM shortly before the end of the race lost possible points after being hit by BMW driver Bruno Spengler. Miguel Molina (Audi Sport Audi RS 5 DTM) and Adrien Tambay (Playboy Audi RS 5 DTM) were forced to retire after excursions.
“Obviously, we’re happy to have finally clinched our first season victory,” said Dieter Gass, Head of DTM at Audi Sport. “We often had the opportunity this year but something always got in the way. Today, we again had the jitters for a long time. But Mattias (Ekström) had the right strategy for this crazy race and in the end was extremely strong on option tires. The recovery by Edo Mortara from the last to fourth place was fantastic too, also because of the way he successfully defended himself on standard tires against the attacks by Vietoris. You could tell how comfortable the Audi RS 5 DTM feels at Zandvoort. The drivers who were struck by the greatest misfortune today were Nico Müller and Mike Rockenfeller. The second safety car was deployed at exactly the wrong moment for them. ‘Rocky’ would only have been hard to beat today.”
Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): “This victory was more than overdue and is good for the whole squad who worked very hard for it. It was a pretty crazy race in which a certain amount of fortune was necessary. But the Audi RS 5 DTM was simply the strongest car at Zandvoort. That was really obvious here.”
Dieter Gass (Head of DTM): “Of course we’re very pleased with and relieved about the victory clinched by Mattias (Ekström): a fantastic achievement. After receiving an unjustified penalty yesterday, he gave the right answer on track today. The race with four safety car periods today was certainly spectacular for the spectators. But I cannot condone some of the things that happened on track. I cannot understand, for instance, how it is possible that a driver hits the corner of another driver’s car in a fast turn, the way (Christian) Vietoris hit Nico Müller, and he gets away with it without a penalty.”
Mattias Ekström (Red Bull Audi RS 5 DTM), 1st place
“It’s always nice to win a race, especially if it’s been such a long time ago. We were without a victory for 14 months and this has been the first victory for Audi this year. It’s a special day. We had a bit of fortune today but my car was very fast, too. It was important that I didn’t lose too much time in the beginning on standard tires. Afterwards, the safety cars played into our hands.”
Edoardo Mortara (Audi Sport Audi RS 5 DTM), 4th place
“It was a fantastic race. We had a perfect strategy and a superb pit stop. I overtook a lot of cars after having to start from the last place on the grid following yesterday’s disqualification. This morning, it was difficult to stay motivated. But we didn’t give up and showed that we’re able to make use of our opportunities when they present themselves.”
Timo Scheider (AUTO TEST Audi RS 5 DTM), 10th place
“It was an action-packed race. The first safety car period on option tires cost me some positions. The second one went a bit in my direction. I had a thrilling race and great battles. My car was good on option tires and standard tires. In the end, we still scored a point and achieved our minimum goal that way.”
Jamie Green (Hoffmann Group Audi RS 5 DTM), 15th place
“We were simply unfortunate. We were in second place. Marco Wittmann made an early pit stop and I was able to overtake Martin Tomczyk and Nico Müller, trailing Mike (Rockenfeller). Then the safety car was deployed and that cost a lot of time because we’d started on option tires. Mattias (Ekström) benefited from this. My speed was really good. We just need a little luck and then the results will come.”
Mike Rockenfeller (Schaeffler Audi RS 5 DTM), 16th place
“Except for the start, which wasn’t quite the way I’d been wishing for and my loss of one position, the race was actually very good. After overtaking Wittmann and taking the lead, I was able to control the race well at the front. But then the safety car was deployed – and my race was ruined. It’s extremely frustrating that the regulations are like this.”
Miguel Molina (Audi Sport Audi RS 5 DTM), 18th place
“It was a promising race. We had a good first half and on standard tires were able to maintain a good pace behind the drivers on option tires. I was supposed to wait for the pit stop a lap longer because Mattias (Ekström) had priority. I lost two positions in the process and was subsequently behind Vietoris and Spengler. There we lost a lot of time with battles and there was no way to move forward anymore. Afterwards, (Timo) Glock pushed me off track. Although I managed to get out of the gravel again my race was over.”
Nico Müller (Audi Financial Services RS 5 DTM), retirement
“The beginning of the race was great. I made a superb start and immediately advanced to third place. Even more would almost have been possible but it wasn’t quite enough. I then took it easy on the tires and followed the pack. Marco Wittmann had tire problems at the front very early. After the first safety car period, everything was still okay with me but after the second one nothing was possible anymore. I had a problem on the car because I picked up some debris. From then on, everything went in the wrong direction. The accident in the end was just the final touch.”
Adrien Tambay (Playboy Audi RS 5 DTM), retirement
“Unfortunately, the race was much too short for me. While attempting to attack Paffett I suddenly had less downforce and grip on the front axle. On the grass I then lost control of the car. Sorry for that. Today there was a lot of potential with this car.”
Hans-Jürgen Abt (Team Director Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline): “We’re happy to have won the race. That was our aim. The weekend didn’t start perfectly but the whole squad believed in it, did everything right, and selected the right tire strategy. It’s very positive to be at the very top again after such a long barren spell.”
Ernst Moser (Team Director Audi Sport Team Phoenix): “It’s a shame to end up in 16th place after starting from the top spot. Timo (Scheider) recovered five or six places. That was damage containment. With Mike (Rockenfeller) we had the fastest car in the field. That makes finishing the race so far at the rear a particularly bitter pill. This time, we were lacking fortune. We’re now hoping for Hockenheim and the second Audi victory this year.”
Arno Zensen (Team Director Audi Sport Team Rosberg): “Congratulations to Audi, Ekström and Audi Sport Team Abt Sportline. Finally, the first victory after such a long time. For us, it was a shame, as both drivers drove a good race. But with the safety car more wasn’t possible and, in addition, both drivers were turned around on track.”