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Mattias Ekstrom storms to Valencia pole
1 October 2011
Audi's Mattias Ekstrom stormed to his second DTM pole of the season today in Valencia, while fellow championship protagonists Martin Tomcyzk and Bruno Spengler could only manage eleventh and thirteenth.
Ekstrom, pole man and winner at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit last year, continued his fine form around the circuit by clocking a 1 minute 30.608 seconds putting him at the front of a slightly obscure grid.
Surprisingly however Ekstrom was left to battle the '08 spec Mercedes duo of Renger van der Zande and David Coulthard, both posting a career best qualifying, along with Audi's Filipe Albuquerque, following an exciting session which saw a number of big names fall during Q3.
Edoardo Mortara's (Team Rosberg Audi) excursion off track triggered the Red Flag during Q2 automatically sending all 13 drivers through to Q3 minus Mortara, making the third segment of qualifying more congested than usual.
Mercedes 'A' squad HWA struggled yet again with Brit Gary Paffett heading their line-up in ninth position, while Ralf Schumacher and Jamie Green languished in tenth and twelfth.
Audi collectively enjoyed a better afternoon with former double DTM champion Timo Scheider lining up seventh directly behind last year's Le Mans winner Mike Rockenfeller, who will start tomorrow's race from fifth. Britain's Oliver Jarvis lines up in eighth position.
Local hero Miguel Molina couldn't quite keep up the performance he achieved during practice but still posted a time good enough for sixth on the grid.
Q1 casualties Maro Engel (Team Mucke Mercedes), Christian Vietoris (Team Persson Mercedes), Rahel Frey (Team Phoneix Audi) and Britain's Susie Stoddart (Team Persson Mercedes) prop up the rear of the field.
Tomcyzk (Team Phoenix Audi) now goes into tomorrow's race nine points in front of Spengler with a chance of clinching the championship if he scores two points more than the HWA man. Should he achieve this he will become the first driver in DTM history to win the championship in old-spec machinery. However, with Ekstrom eighteen points behind he still mathematically has an outside chance of becoming champion giving Tomcyzk and Spengler something to think about as they languish tenth and twelfth on a grid where overtaking has proved to be extremely difficult in normal conditions this season.
by Simon Evans
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