DTM » 07 August 2005
Nurburgring 2005: Ekstrom re-gains title lead.
Reigning DTM champion, Mattias Ekstrom took the win at the Nurburgring Sunday, to regain the lead in the drivers' championship.
Changeable weather conditions at the track turned the seventh round into something a tyre gamble, one that nevertheless though saw Ekstrom come out top, crossing the finish line 1.088 seconds up on his Audi team-mate, Tom Kristensen. Gary Paffett had led early on but the Brit was handed a drive-through penalty after his second pit stop for crossing the line at the pit-lane exit.
"It's always nice to win races. But it feels better to defeat your opponent on the track than winning because he was penalised," reflected Ekstrom.
"Yet, at the end of the day this doesn't matter when it comes to winning title. Here, it's all about having scored more points than your rival. And it doesn't matter if you beat him by one or ten points."
Kristensen meanwhile admitted to being somewhat relieved to have finished in the top three, after a difficult time in the previous two events.
"It feels great to be back on the podium," he confirmed, "particularly following the past two races when I was the pole-sitter and didn't make it to the podium. The race control's decision to start the race behind the Safety-Car was the right one. Both our strategy and our pace were good. The result represents a good omen for the rest of the season."
Paffett had to make do with third following his penalty, overtaking his Mercedes team-mate, Mika Hakkinen on the last lap and thus scoring six valuable championship points to keep his title hopes alive. He is now just one point behind Ekstrom, who has scored 51.
"I'm very disappointed with my third place," said Paffett. "It's really annoying that I crossed the white line at the pit-lane exit. I am sorry for the entire team. I had the fastest car today and I should have won."
Further down the pack DTM veteran, Bernd Schneider took fifth ahead of ex-F1 drivers, Allan McNish and Jean Alesi. The final points scoring position went to Jamie Green, who helped give Mercedes a 3-4-5-7-8 finish.
Laurent Aiello was just outside the points in ninth, the best of the Opel runners, 3 seconds or so off Green, while Christian Abt rounded out the top ten.
"It was difficult to decide which set-up we should use for the race, as the weather conditions were extremely changeable," said Aiello. "During my second pit stop, we had a problem with the air gun, thus losing a lot of time. Afterwards, my chances of securing a top result were gone."
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