Reigning DTM champion Mattias Ekstrom has picked up his first win of the 2005 season after victory in the fourth round of the year at Brno.
The Swede was able to take advantage of a drive through penalty for championship leader Gary Paffett and a strong period of the race prior to his first pit-stop to take victory, with team-mate Tom Kristensen giving Audi extra reason to celebrate by taking second. Heinz-Harald Frentzen produced a strong display to take third and give Opel its first podium finish of 2005.
Starting from the front row of the grid, Frentzen led in the early stages of the race, while Mercedes star Paffett was immediately in trouble as he was given a drive through penalty for jumping the start which would ultimately cost him any chance of victory. Team-mate Mika Hakkinen, who had started from fifth on the grid was also a loser in the early stages as he was forced to pit with a puncture on lap three, while Bernd Schneider had failed to get even that far – retiring on the opening lap following an incident with the Opel of Marcel Fässler.
Frentzen led the way to the first round of pitstops, but the stop wouldn't be kind to the former F1 racer as he returned to the track just ahead of Kristensen who immediately started pressurising the German driver for position.
While this battle was going on, Ekstrom - who hadn't yet been into the pits himself - was able to put in some strong laps in clear air to make up the time lost during the opening stint, and exited the pitlane just as Frentzen came past to try and retake the lead.
With Ekstrom on the racing line, the Audi was able to go into the lead, and with Frentzen out of position, Kristensen was able to follow his team-mate through to make it an Audi one-two out front.
From there, Frentzen was unable to keep pace with the Audi pairing who came home separated by just 0.288 second, with the Opel man taking his first DTM podium in third, despite having a recovering Paffett closing in in the latter stages of the race.
Fellow Brit Jamie Green took his best finish of the season in fifth, with Christian Abt, Allan McNish and Frank Stippler completing the points scoring finishers.
Ekstrom now leads the championship, with a three point advantage over Paffett.