The DTM show event was a real treat for all Audi fans this weekend just gone, especially when Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline's Mattias EkstrÃ¶m became the next man to enter the roll of honour by winning for himself, but more notably, for the Ingolstadt manufacturer, in front of 45,000 spectators that weekend. Mattias has proved himself numerous times in this type of competitive racing format, having won the overall individual title at the “Race of Champions” three times.
It was a belated, but very welcome birthday present for the Swede, who celebrated his 34th birthday the day before, but also celebrated his first victory this season, which was a proud moment for Mattias: “It's been a long time since I last stood on the very top of the podium. Winning here in front of so many fans is particularly nice. I had the impression that the Olympic Stadium was pretty much in BMW's hands, but today, we showed that to the whole crowd that Audi's best.”
As he was the highest-placed Audi driver in the current standings, he had been pitted against BMW driver Joey Hand in the last 16, who he dispatched in a dominant fashion, before facing fellow DTM Champion and former Audi stable mate Martin Tomczyk in the quarterfinal. But it nearly went wrong for the Swedish driver, as he accidentally selected neutral before his pit stop, with the 2-time champion nearly losing his advantage over the German driver, but he went on to win by just under 0.1 seconds.
Then it was a formality for EkstrÃ¶m, as he beat series leader Gary Paffett in the semi-final by almost 2 seconds, before he came from behind to beat Paffett's teammate Jamie Green in finally. EkstrÃ¶m clearly showed that the Audi A5 DTM had really good pace, as the track was flooded later on in the day, with the Swede making up nearly two seconds after a slow first pit stop within three laps. But he crossed the finish line after both final races as a clear winner, holding nearly a 1.5 second advantage over second placed driver Green.
But the remainder of the Audi drivers had their fair share of ups and downs, with Mike “Rocky” Rockenfeller beating Miguel Molina, who had clutch issues in the last 16, before being beaten by Green in the quarter final. Edoardo Mortara, who won for Audi in Spielburg, had his challenge ended by ex-F1 driver David Coulthard, by the narrowest of margins, with Filipe Albuquerque also feeling Green's wrath during proceedings. Adrien Tambay nearly beat BMW driver Bruno Spengler, but his gamble to run on slicks as rain was setting in, but it didn't pay off, with the Frenchman losing out, with Rahal Frey placing higher than fellow female racer and rival Suzie Wolff, finishing a credible 15th after losing to Paffett in the last 16.
But the last words were well put by Audi's Head of Motorsport, Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, who was more than happy about the overall results Audi had achieved with the new A5 DTM in BMW's back yard: “It was a very thrilling final and a nice event that was good fun. Even spectators who weren't into motorsport very much before were able to see how exciting and captivating the DTM can be. In the end, it was especially nice that Mattias managed to win for Audi after we had previously reached the final of the relay competition on Saturday with Adrien and Timo.”
So as the teams have a lengthy 4 week hiatus, before racing resumes at full pelt in earnest, as the DTM starts the second half of the season at the famed Nurburgring, with EkstrÃ¶m looking to charge forward in the title race, and secure back-to-back victories at the circuit, to help his and Audi's cause in the fight for overall honours.