Timo Scheider has extended his DTM championship lead after triumphing from pole position at Brands Hatch on the series' only British visit of the year - but not without some stern pressure form Mercedes-Benz's new standard-bearer Paul di Resta, who tracked the young German all the way to the chequered flag.

Despite clouds hanging overhead and a possible repeat of the unpredictable wet-dry experience at the N?rburgring feared, pole-sitter Scheider made a textbook getaway when the red lights went out, with fellow front row starter di Resta slotting into second place ahead of Bruno Spengler, Martin Tomczyk and home hero Oliver Jarvis, who had made a storming start around the outside in his year-old Audi A4.

Jamie Green would deprive his countryman of the position with a bold move all the way around the outside of Paddock Hill Bend at the start of lap two, with the subsequent loss of momentum allowing reigning DTM Champion Mattias Ekstr?m to sneak past his Audi team-mate into the bargain.

Further back, meanwhile, Mathias Lauda found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time as some door-banging ensued and Maro Engel was spun around into the luckless young Austrian's path, causing a collision and leaving both firmly at the rear of the field, with Susie Stoddart having made promising early progress up in 15th ahead of Mercedes-Benz team-mate and ex-Formula 1 ace Ralf Schumacher.

Scheider had eked out a 1.7-second advantage over di Resta within just four laps, with news that both third-placed Spengler and Alex Pr?mat - who had been passed by the fellow Audi of Tom Kristensen for eleventh place - were under investigation, though no further action was subsequently taken.

With rain beginning to spit, wet tyres were being readied in the pit-lane as the pit-stop window began to approach, with Spengler, Tomcyzk, Green and Ekstrom all closing up in the battle over third place, albeit some five seconds adrift of the two race leaders, and Jarvis heading Gary Paffett in the final points-paying positions in seventh and eighth, and the highest two drivers in year-old machinery.

Behind the British duo, Mike Rockenfeller, record-breaking title-winner Bernd Schneider and Kristensen were waging a fraught scrap over ninth place, with light contact between the two Germans into Druids on lap 19.

Scheider's lead as the cars started to peel into the pits lay at just under two seconds, as Spengler was the first man to blink at the end of lap 21 - exactly a quarter of the way through the 82-lap encounter. Team-mate Schneider followed suit, as did Kristensen, Markus Winkelhock and Katherine Legge, the latter enduring a lengthy ten-second delay as all four remained on slick rubber.

The leaders, though, carried on, with di Resta closing the gap separating him from his quarry to 1.5 seconds and Christijan Albers running very wide through Paddock Hill Bend. Di Resta was the next man in, the Scot similarly remaining on dry tyres but perhaps crucially rejoining the fray right behind the Audi of Rockenfeller.

Scheider and Jarvis pitted next time around, with Rockenfeller like Audi colleague Legge also losing time when he made his visit and the Ingolstadt manufacturer's Red Bull stars Tomczyk and Ekstr?m continuing to motor on out front. Indeed, the former's first pit-stop at the end of lap 31 was the fastest of the race to-date, as Engel went off-piste for the second time.

Green running wide at Paddock allowed Tomczyk past to chase after Spengler in the battle over fourth place, before the Briton fought back in an effort to regain the position, whilst Ekstr?m continued on, now just over eight seconds clear of the closing Scheider as the halfway mark approached, with di Resta remaining well in contention in third.

Indeed, so long did Ekstr?m remain on-track before pitting, that Schumacher, Kristensen, Green and Tomczyk all came in to make their second mandatory stops before he had even made his first, and di Resta got the gap to erstwhile race leader Scheider down to under a second for the first time since the start of the race.

Spengler regained the track following his second stop right alongside Tomczyk, the Canadian just getting the nod after the pair ran side-by-side all the way to Druids. There was similarly good news for di Resta, who came out again in front of a four-car train by the narrowest of margins, but team-mate Schneider - having fought his way up into the points - was less fortunate, receiving a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pit-lane.

With Ekstr?m finally pitting for the first time on lap 43, Albers and Lauda exchanged bodywork paint in a robust scrap further down the order, whilst Tomczyk found himself held up by the lapped Stoddart in his pursuit of Spengler, with Green now ahead of the pair of them in fourth. Tomczyk and Spengler even made contact as they duelled over fifth place - with the former clearly feeling he was the quicker of the pair, and trying every which way to find a means to get by.

Legge then went off through the gravel at Druids, losing part of her bodywork and very nearly turning into the side of the Mercedes of Paffett on regaining the track, with the McLaren-Mercedes F1 test driver and Jarvis continuing to dispute eighth place and the final points' position.

On lap 56 Tomczyk finally found a way past his quarry, bravely going all way around outside of Spengler through Paddock Hill Bend to pinch the position, whilst team-mate Ekstr?m pitted for the second time a handful of tours later, and upon rejoining did so in third position, narrowly ahead of Green, who now had 21 laps remaining to try to deprive the Swede of the bottom step on the rostrum.

Schumacher lost a position to Albers by shooting off-track at Paddock Hill Bend, as duels raged up and down the order, with Kristensen now doing his damndest to wrest sixth place away from Spengler as the Audis came on increasingly strong as the race progressed.

With 18 laps left to run, though, it was di Resta who was applying the pressure, homing in to within under a second of long-time leader Scheider, with Schneider closing in onto the back of Jarvis to make it a three-way scrap over the race's last point, headed by Paffett.

The inspired Ekstr?m, meanwhile, was now lapping quickest of anybody on the track, with side-by-side action from Audi team-mates Jarvis, Winkelhock and Pr?mat right as the race leaders came up to lap the trio badly delaying Scheider and allowing di Resta to close to just three tenths of a second, though he would lose a fraction again when Winkelhock fought back and tagged the Mercedes, for which the German would receive a driving standards flag.

All of this, though, had allowed Ekstr?m to close the gap on the pair to less than five seconds with nine laps left to go, as Schneider redoubled his efforts to find a way past Paffett for the final point and Spengler continued his defence of sixth position against a charging Kristensen.

Just four seconds blanketed the leading three cars with six tours remaining, with Scheider's advantage a scant half a second going into the final tour - but that would prove enough, as the championship leader strengthened his grip on the drivers' standings with a flawless triumph on British soil.

Di Resta sealed another rostrum finish and maintained his own title challenge with second place at the close, ahead of the charging Ekstr?m, Green - who had slipped some distance adrift of the podium finishers at the flag - Tomczyk, Spengler and Kristensen, with Paffett narrowly holding off a determined Schneider to secure the final point.

"That was a really important day in the battle for the title," asserted the race-winner afterwards. "Now I am nine points clear with three rounds to go - that is a good margin. I am very happy with my second win, especially as I have never scored a good result here in previous years. Thanks to Mercedes-Benz and especially Bernd Schneider for the fair move towards the end of the race."

"All-in-all, it has been a good performance throughout the weekend and we can be happy with the result," added runner-up di Resta. "Now we are preparing for Barcelona. There, we should be able to do better than here."

"A good weekend after all," agreed Ekstr?m. "I came here with my eyes set on victory. However, after my gearbox problem in qualifying and the subsequent seventh place on the grid, this result is alright."

Following the Brands Hatch meeting, Scheider looks odds-on to claim the crown, but with Green and di Resta now tied for second place in the title chase, neither can be discounted and the three-pointed star's challenge will continue apace - as Audi well recognises.

"It was a hard and entertaining race, that of course was fun for these enthusiastic spectators," remarked the Ingolstadt manufacturer's motorsport director Dr Wolfgang Ullrich. "Timo led all the way, but there was no room for him to ease off as Paul di Resta was in his slipstream throughout. Mattias Ekstr?m also showed a strong performance, making his way up from seventh to third with great lap times and a perfect strategy.

"This was a DTM race as good as they come. We have improved our position in the championship with a margin of nine points, but with three races remaining, there is no way to relax. I am also happy with the fact that the race was particularly fair."

"Congratulations to Audi," added Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Vice-President Norbert Haug. "Timo Scheider didn't make a mistake - Paul di Resta had been waiting for that - but with ten kilograms of additional weight, Paul has done a great job. Lewis Hamilton, who watched the race standing next to me on the pit wall, was also very impressed.

"A race cannot end more closely; this was genuine motorsport promotion. We are racers and of course we will not give up. Now we will take some ballast out of our cars, and we will be attacking again in Barcelona."

To see the race results in full, click here

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