A fourth win of the season has cemented the runner-up spot for Bruno Spengler in the DTM standings, the Canadian triumphing after a bruising and controversial encounter at the Hockenheim season finale.

In a race that saw only eleven drivers reach the chequered flag after several on-track clashes, most notably Audi team-mates Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Mattias Ekstrom, Spengler crossed the line just ahead of Mercedes team-mate Jamie Green, with Tom Kristensen coming out top in a fierce battle with Bernd Schneider for the final podium spot.

With Frentzen starting the race from his first ever DTM pole position, the German eased into an early lead, ahead of Green and Martin Tomczyk, the duo benefiting from a slow starting Spengler to go second and third.

Further back though, Frank Stippler was forced out on the first lap for the second race in succession after colliding with Alex Margaritis, while Mathias Lauda was also delayed when he spun following a tap from Vanina Ickx in her repaired Audi.

Up at the front though Frentzen was not looking like the faster driver on the circuit, with Green becoming bottled up behind him to the point that he made an attempted at passing him, only to run wide and allow Tomczyk and Spengler through.

Any hopes that Tomczyk would shield Frentzen though were ruined when Spengler made a move on the German the very next lap to get back up into second place, while Green and Kristensen were also able to find a way past the hobbled Audi.

It did not take long for the first wave of pit stops to start, with Kristensen's determination to beat Spengler to second place in the championship forcing him to adopt a risky strategy of pitting on lap six, along with Timo Scheider and Mika Hakkinen. In an attempt to counter this threat, newly crowned champion Bernd Schneider entered the pit lane on lap ten, but was unable to find the time in the clear space to emerge in front, instead rejoining just behind the Dane.

Still, Spengler was doing quite alright on his own at the head of the field, out-braking Frentzen for the lead on lap eleven after a few feigned moves the laps before. Frentzen's disappointment was further compounded when he pitted straight after and came out of the pit lane behind Kristensen and Schneider, leaving him an effective fifth.

Indeed, the trio went on to embark on a thrilling tussle, with Schneider's attempt to pass Kristensen punished by locking up his front wheels, a mistake that allowed Frentzen back through.

Schneider wasted no time staying on his blemished rubber, returning to the pit lane for his second stop on lap 17, even before the leaders Spengler and Green had come in for their first pit stop.

Both drivers eventually came in on lap 18, as did Kristensen in his attempts to keep Schneider at bay, allowing Mattias Ekstrom, Daniel La Rosa and Margaritis to assume first, second and third, even if they were positions they would hold for only a lap when they pitted on lap 20.

Frentzen's day continued to get worse, coming into the pit lane on lap 22 for the second time and coming out behind Kristensen again, as well as Schneider and Tomczyk, sending further down the order.

Nonetheless, Frentzen was back up to sixth place with the end of the race approaching having managed to just edge out the late pitting Ekstrom. However, just when he looked to be heading for a rather unsatisfying three points, Ekstrom made contact with his team-mate sending both drivers out of the race.

The incident forced both drivers to retire and return to the pit lane rather sheepishly to explain their actions. Furthermore, a livid Frentzen has since claimed he is now on the verge of leaving Audi in protest of various decisions within the team, beyond his clash with Ekstrom...

Spengler though was the clear winner, the Canadian triumphing for the fourth time in six races to end the season just eight points off Schneider, making him by the far the most improved of all the drivers this year.

Green was a close but never threatening second, leaving him to end a frustrating second year without a win to his name, while Kristensen's third place brings an end to a disappointing season that saw him as the early favourite, before slipping away towards the end.

Schneider was fourth, already safe in the knowledge that he is champion once again, while Tomczyk's strong end of season form guarantees himself a finish in fourth overall, his highest overall standing six attempts.

Timo Scheider kept his points ticking over in sixth, ahead of fellow Audi driver Christian Abt, while the eighth and final point was taken by Jean Alesi, the Frenchman confirming today that he is leaving the DTM to race elsewhere in 2007 [see separate story].

Susie Stoddart meanwhile brought her first season in the DTM to a close with her best result of the season in ninth place, the Scot finishing just two seconds off Alesi.