It is his sixth season in the DTM yet Martin Tomczyk can only finally now celebrate his first ever victory in the series after a controlled drive from pole position at the Circuit de Catalunya, a race that almost certainly gifted Bernd Schneider the title.

Triumphing for his first time on his 77th start in the championship, Tomczyk's win comes having spent several years playing the team game and allowing others to take his place, but with team-mate Tom Kristensen, the only Audi driver with a chance to take the title, finishing outside of the points, it was his turn to claim the limelight and earn a popular victory for the team.

Schneider took second place after an eventful race that included a collision with sparring partner Kristensen, a result that puts him just two points away from the title with just Le Mans and Hockenheim left on the calendar. Heinz-Harald Frentzen rounded off the podium to equal his best result of the season.

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Competing in front of a healthy 42,000 strong crowd, the Spanish spectators were treated to a spectacular pile-up at the first corner that eliminated three cars, two of them belonging to Furturecom TME, Vanina Ickx and Nicolas Kiesa seemingly paying the price for their highly improved qualifying grid slots, while on the other hand Jamie Green paid the price for his lower than usual starting position by also retiring with damage.

The incident was kicked off by Christian Abt hitting the back of Kiesa's Audi, the Dane being forced into his team-mate Ickx, who in turn collected Green. Of the four drivers involved, only Abt, who has come into criticism for his robust driving recently, survived to race on.

While the action broke out behind them, Tomczyk had got the hammer down from the start, exiting the first corner in the lead ahead of Frentzen, Kristensen and Schneider, the four drivers staying as they were from their grid slots.

However, with Schneider determined not to let Audi manoeuvre their drivers into ideal positions, the German attempted to scupper their plans by getting his C-Class ahead of Kristensen, a tense move that was defined by the Le Mans legend hitting his rival, only for the collision to damage his A4, with Schneider seemingly unaffected.

It was a move that arguably gives the title to Schneider, the German going on to have a battle with Mattias Ekstrom, the Swede finding a way past initially but losing advantage through the pit stops and falling back to fourth place. Kristensen meanwhile was slipping back out of contention with his damaged car.

Ekstrom's hopes of a podium however were dashed when he was punished with a drive-through penalty for a rough move on Schneider for second place, even if an eventual fourth place was testament to his pace around the Spanish circuit.

Up at the front though it had been easy for Tomczyk, leading from start to finish to cross the line two seconds ahead of Schneider, who had rapidly closed the gap despite an off-track moment on the penultimate lap. Frentzen and Ekstrom capped off a strong day for Audi in third and fourth, even if they will be bitterly disappointed to see their last hope for the title end the race in ninth place and out of the points.

Between them, Bruno Spengler battled up from his dismal 19th on the grid to claim fifth, while there was joy for Frank Stippler and Daniel La Rosa, the duo in their respective year-old Audi's and Mercedes' claiming their first points of the season in sixth and seventh. Alex Margaritis rounded out the points scorers in eighth.

Jean Alesi meanwhile has been given a ?7,000 fine for apparently brake testing fellow former F1 racer Mika Hakkinen, the Frenchman criticised by officials for putting the Finn in a 'dangerous position'.