Ekstrom Leads Title Battle in Hockenheim Qualifying

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Championship leader Timo Scheider will have to start the DTM decider at Hockenheim behind his nearest challenger, Gary Paffett.

One spot behind.

The pair will start second and third for the 38 lap finale, behind Audi driver Mattias Ekstrom, who qualified only 0.066 seconds faster that Paffett's Saltzgitter backed Mercedes.

Ekstrom, who won his third consecutive DTM pole at the track was fastest in all but one of the four segments of DTM's F1-alike knockout qualifying, his only slip being in the second part, where he could only manage fifth fastest as Scheider led.

“Being all up in front is always nice. My goal on Sunday is to have a good start and pull clear out in front,” said the Swede. “I am happy to have a close view of the battle for the title…preferably in my rear-view mirror”

And behind him is exactly where the title fighters will start. Scheider was a sliver like 0.022 off Paffett's time (1:32.591) in lining up third, and so is on course to defend his seven point advantage is he can stay close to the Englishman's bumper.

“For us, it was important not to lose contact to the front and not to experience another mistake again like we did at Dijon,” said the defending champion. “I'm behind Gary (Paffett) on position three and was beaten by just two hundredths. That's a good starting base for tomorrow.”

Paffett himself meanwhile is clear of exactly what needs to happen if he is to add to his 2005 crown. “I have to finish first or second tomorrow to keep my title hopes alive and second on the grid is a good basis to achieve this. However, my chances to make up Timo's advantage of seven points are not really big.”

Paffett's Mercedes teammate, and fellow Briton Paul di Resta will start fourth, after recording the slowest time (1:32.787) in the four car final qualifying segment.

Tom Kristensen will start his final DTM race in fifth, Jamie Green will line up ninth and twice series runner-up Bruno Spengler will have to fight up from 15th on the grid if he is to make any impression on the points paying positions.

Photo credit: DTM

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