Catalunya 2008: di Resta wins bad tempered race
21 September 2008
Paul di Resta has kept his DTM title hopes alive with a fine drive to victory in the latest round at Barcelona, although Timo Scheider's second place means he remains in prime position for the championship.
Although no mid-race boycotts afflicted the race this year, the event was still marred by a number of controversial incidents, most notably on the final lap when Mattias Ekstrom and Jamie Green came to blows.
Nonetheless, none of this concerned di Resta, who ran behind Scheider in the early stages after the German took the lead at the first corner. Further back, Tom Kristensen – forced to the back of the grid after brake-testing Gary Paffett in the pit-lane during qualifying – was given the first of a few drive-thru penalties for hitting Susie Stoddart.
At the front, di Resta appeared to have the edge on Scheider, the Scot mirroring the German but being unable to pull alongside. It looked like di Resta would jump ahead after the first round of pit-stops, but despite stopping later, he slotted in back behind.
Nonetheless, it took just three laps for di Resta to make his move as Scheider, momentarily distracted by Katherine Legge crashing off at Campsa, opened the door heading into La Caixa. Although it wasn't a pretty manoeuvre and there was contact, di Resta was through and immediately began putting distance between himself and Scheider.
For the most part, the race remained relatively uneventful, with Schneider in a lonely third, while Martin Tomczyk settled into fourth after harassing the pole sitter in the early stages.
Instead, Ekstrom commanded a lot of the attention as he embarked on a different pit-stop strategy, the Swede leading on two occasions as he dragged his stints out as long as possible. It eventually paid off when he came back out in sixth – three places up on where he was at the beginning of the race – but it was his feud with Green that is expected to rumble on.
Amidst a flurry tussling back markers, Ekstrom had caught Green quickly, the Brit struggling with his tyres in the latter stages, but his dive down the inside of turn one on the final lap was that of desperation, the collision turning the Mercedes around.
Green got going again to catch Ekstrom up by the end of the lap, although it isn't certain whether the Swede was in trouble or slowing to allow Green back through. However, the Brit made his feelings known when he barged Ekstrom off the circuit at the chicane, only for the Audi to come back on the track and do the same to Green. The contact eventually ended when Green was pushed onto the gravel, dropping him to eighth in the process.
Called to the stewards after the race, Ekstrom was eventually slapped with a 50-second penalty for the initial contact, dropping him out of the points.
As such, Mike Rockenfeller was promoted to fifth to come home as the best of the 07-specification cars, while Alex Premat moves up to sixth. Green will be classified seventh, with Ralf Schumacher sneaking the final point in eighth.
A bad tempered race all-round, both Markus Winkelhock and Oliver Jarvis were responsible for tipping Gary Paffett into a spin, with Winkelhock getting a drive-thru penalty for his troubles. Legge was also punished for forcing Mathias Lauda into retirement, while Schumacher's pass on Christijan Albers also involved contact.
The series now moves on to the penultimate round at Le Mans, with Scheider still seven points up on di Resta, as it looks likely that both Audi and Mercedes will throw their tactical might behind these two now.