Lausitz 2005: Pendulum swings in Ekstrom's favour
18 September 2005
Reigning DTM champion, Mattias Ekstrom took the win at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz Sunday.
Ekstrom, who started from P5, made up two places at the start and he eventually triumphed by just 0.401 seconds to give Audi their third win of the year. The result moves him back into the lead in the drivers' championship, one point ahead of Gary Paffett, who had to settle for second.
"This race resembled a 50-lap qualifying session," said the Swede at the finish, after taking the eighth DTM win of his career.
"It was my strategy to drive as fast as possible while avoiding the slightest mistake at the same time. This worked out quite well. Today, my team, my car and I are the winners. The race was extremely tough as Gary pressurised me all the time. But thanks to our great pit stops and strategy I succeeded in winning the race."
Paffett, who shadowed Ekstrom through-out the race, conceded he had no choice but to settle for the eight points.
"Mattias and I underlined why we're the championship leaders today," said the Brit. "It was one of the closest and fairest races of the entire season. There were only two options to pass Mattias - he had to make a mistake or I had to push him off the track. But that's not the style and the level we are dealing with one another. In consideration of my seventh grid position, it's a great result to have finished second. Prior to the race already I was aware that there was only one possibility to finish ahead of Mattias: to win the race."
Ekstrom's team-mate Tom Kristensen rounded out the top three, to take the final spot on the podium, 3 seconds adrift of the battle for the lead by the finish, after clutch problems during his second pit-stop dropped him back.
"I was the man who had the best seat to watch the battle for the lead," he noted. "Both Ekstrom and Paffett delivered in superior style and I would have loved to be involved in this battle. But due to a clutch problem during my second pit stop my engine stalled and I lost a lot of time."
Further-down the leaderboard, Laurent Aiello ended up fourth for Opel, a second or so up on Manuel Reuter, in the second best placed Vectra GTS. It was Aiello's first top five finish of the season and followed his announcement on Saturday that he will retire from motor racing at the end of the year.
"This has been a great race, for me," said Aiello. "It was a strange feeling to know that today's race was the ante-penultimate one of my career. I made a slightly too conservative start as I didn't want to mess with Gary's business, and in the closing stages, I was involved in a great battle with Tom Kristensen."
Bruno Spengler and Heinz-Harald Frentzen meanwhile were sixth and seventh with the final points scoring position going to Jean Alesi. Frentzen and Alesi had a minor coming together near the end, something that cost them both a place.
"I wanted to pass Heinz-Harald Frentzen, but he braked earlier than on the previous lap, and when I tried to avoid him I went onto the grass. Then I slid and touched his car. The drive-through penalty cost me two positions. It's a shame, because my car was good and my team deserved a better result," stated the Frenchman.
Allan McNish and Martin Tomczyk completed the top ten, while Rinaldo Capello, Mika Hakkinen, Frank Stippler and Alex Margaritis were the only other classified finishers, in eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth and fourteen respectively.
"I'm disappointed because starting fourth I had expected more," said Hakkinen, who lost out following an incident with Christian Abt on lap 14.
"After Christian had hit my car, something was wrong and I was not able to push anymore," he added.
Of the rest, six drivers were not classified - most noticeably pole sitter, Jamie Green, who had to retire on lap 29 from 12th due to brake problems, while DTM old-hand, Bernd Schneider also went out after a tyre failure.
"I started well and made up some places," explained Schneider. "My lap times showed that I had chances. Then I hit some parts on the track from the incident between Mika Häkkinen and Christian Abt and damaged my left rear tyre. That was it."
The DTM now heads to Turkey for the tenth and penultimate round of the season, which will take place on October 2.