5 October 2008
Le Mans 2008: Ekstrom wins chaotic race.
Mattias Ekstrom has won the penultimate round of the DTM at Le Mans, but the big news was Paul di Resta's stunning charge to second place during a rain shower that prevented Timo Scheider from being crowned champion.
In one of the most chaotic DTM races of all-time, the constantly changing weather conditions played havoc with strategies up and down the field, while the slippery conditions ensured that nearly every driver endured an off-road moment at some time.
In fact, di Resta looked nearly down and out when he pulled into the pit lane after just five laps when he finally relented that the wet tyres on his Mercedes were not sufficient around a drying circuit. Taken outside of the allocated pit window, di Resta still had two stops to make and with arch-rival Scheider up in the lead after a superb start from fifth, the title very much looked as though it would be wrapped up today.
Indeed, the first few laps of the race were exceptionally frantic, with Martin Tomczyk and Ralf Schumacher retiring in separate incidents on the first lap, while Maro Engel, Mike Rockenfeller, Mathias Lauda and Katherine Legge all found themselves in the midst of the action.
With the slender Bugatti configuration of the circuit and the greasy surface ensuring that some cars, most notably the Mercedes', struggled to thread their way around, plenty of panel-bashing followed, with Alex Premat brought up on clipping di Resta and given a one-second pit penalty.
Up at the front, Ekstrom had taken the lead from Scheider through the pit-stops, the intermittent rain not prompting them to take a chance on treaded rubber.
di Resta, meanwhile, was gradually working his way back up the order, but was still destined to lose the title if Scheider was comfortable up at the front of the field.
The Scot needed a dash of luck and it came with around ten laps remaining when a sharp shower coated the circuit and sent rivals dashing for the pit lane. Crucially, di Resta was the only driver who needed to make a mandatory stop, which meant he could stop as normal, where as several others had to dive into the pits for more rubber.
Amongst those was Scheider, who emerged back on the circuit directly in front of di Resta. However, the German couldn't resist his rival and was immediately passed.
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