For the fourth time in his career, Martin Tomczyk crossed the line at the head of a DTM field, leading a 1-2-3-4 for Audi after 48 laps of action on the Nurburgring 'sprint' circuit.

After an incident-packed opening, Tomczyk was able to convert his pole position into a immediate advantage and remained at the front throughout, rejoining still in the lead after his mandatory pit-stop and coming home 1.2secs clear of nearest rival, Audi team-mate and reigning DTM champion Timo Scheider.

"The car was just fantastic," the winner enthused, "I didn't have one single problem this weekend. Moreover, it was a comfortable race for me with two Audis behind me. However, winning a race is always the most beautiful thing. I had been lacking the speed I had this weekend for a long time, but now, I am back."

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Mattias Ekstr?m completed the podium, the Swede losing out to Scheider at the start, while Markus Winkelhock completed the top-four lock-out by steering his Playboy-backed entry to year-old honours in fourth spot.

In the sixth round of the season, Jamie Green came through to be the best-placed Mercedes driver, in fifth place, after Bruno Spengler's car began smoking as early as lap one after contact with Ekstrom. The Canadian, who had qualified on the front row alongside Tomczyk, managed to survive to the end of the race, but came home sixth, ahead of Ralf Schumacher and Gary Paffett, both of whom guided their Mercedes entries to point-scoring finishes from the lower reaches of the grid.

"I was surprised being the best-placed Mercedes driver at the finish, but I had good speed, was consistent and the tyres were good," Green reported, "These were the keys to success as, today, we have seen, once again, that competition in the DTM is very close. However, with three victories for Mercedes-Benz from six races, we are looking ahead in a positive way."

Scheider's second place was enough to see him rise to the top of the standings, the German's 35 points putting him one marker ahead of Ekstr?m, with Paffett third, a further five points adrift.

"I am very happy," Audi motorsport director Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich commented, "Having four Audis in front really is a great team effort and a perfect racing weekend for Audi. A double lead in the championship is a great way to start the second half of the season. I am particularly happy that Martin Tomczyk is back. This is an impressive comeback. Markus Winkelhock has also driven a very good race."

The race began with Paffett, Katherine Legge and Maro Engel all spinning at the first corner, with the British Audi driver out on the spot. Audi veteran Tom Kristensen then spun coming out of the sprint loop and pitted for attention at the end of the lap. The Dane's error was compounded by the fact that the safety car had been summoned to clear the first corner incident and, on the restart, Schumacher began his move, passing Bakkerud for tenth.

There was no love lost within the Team Phoenix ranks as Alex Pr?mat punted team-mate Oliver Jarvis off at the first corner in the heat of battle for eighth. While the Frenchman went straight on himself, Jarvis' car became stuck in the gravel, the Briton joining compatriot Legge in retirement. Premat made it back to the pits, where he too retired.

While Legge and Paffett both fell under investigation for their part in the first turn melee, another Briton, Susie Stoddart, was penalised for speeding under yellow flags, earning a drive-thru', which she took on lap 13.

Fellow Scot Paul di Resta beat Stoddart into the pits, however, beginning the mandatory stops along with Bakkerud, before the floodgates opened and the rest of the field gradually made their stops. Kristensen retired during his visit and, two laps later, was joined on the sidelines by di Resta, who lost his rear wing on the main straight and ploughed into the gravel trap at turn one.

Ekstr?m was the first of the frontrunners to pit, stopping on lap 20, one lap before both Tomczyk and Scheider into the pits. While the champion rejoined just in front of Ekstr?m, there was no such trouble for Tomczyk, who resumed in front.

Green was the last driver to come in for his first stop, at this point not a threat for either points or leading Mercedes honours, but the second round of stops would sort that. After the first round, Tomczyk led from Scheider, Ekstr?m, Winkelhock, Spengler, Schumacher, Lauda, Paffett and Mike Rockenfeller, before the Briton peeled off for his second stop on lap 24.

Tomczyk and Green both pitted ten laps later, with the German poised to resume as leader once the stops cycled through, and Green rejoining just ahead of Spengler. Once Scheider, Ekstr?m and Schumacher had pitted next time around, the order was Tomczyk leading from the champion, with Ekstr?m, Winkelhock, Green, Spengler, Schumacher, Paffett, Lauda and Rockenfeller chasing in their wake.

Although Scheider closed up on Tomczyk, the leader held firm to claim his fourth DTM victory as Audi again upset the Mercedes applecart.