Audi managed a perfect start to the 2009 DTM season. Tom Kristensen (Denmark), Timo Scheider (Germany), Oliver Jarvis (Great Britain) and Markus Winkelhock (Germany) clinched a the first four places driving the Audi A4 DTM and delivered the best start to a season in Audi's DTM history. It happened at the Hockenheimring in front of 91000 spectators.
It could have even been a fivefold victory but a puncture on the penultimate lap cost Mattias Ekstrm (Sweden) the win that already seemed assured. The two-time DTM champion had been dominating the race after starting from pole and achieved a lead of more than 10sec when debris on the track slit a rear tire on his A4. Ekstrm had to come in for an unscheduled pit stop on the penultimate lap and dropped to seventh place.
For Audi, the win marked the 49th triumph in a DTM race, the fourth for Tom Kristensen. "Of course, Mattias (Ekstrm) would have clearly deserved this victory," said the 41 year-old Dane. "But I know only too well how Mattias feels now: In 2006, at Brands Hatch, I also lost a race I'd been leading with a dominant advantage. But the crucial thing is that today only Audi drivers are on the podium."
Kristensen, who had announced on Friday that he would end his DTM career after the 2009 season, fought a duel with his team colleague from Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline, Timo Scheider, over the entire race distance. But the Le Mans record winner made no mistakes and did not offer the title defender any chance to pass.
Oliver Jarvis was the primary beneficiary of Ekstrm's puncture: The 25 year-old Briton in a year-old A4 run by Audi Sport Team Phoenix finished third and thus clinched the first podium of his DTM career. Markus Winkelhock (Audi Sport Team Rosberg) completed Audi's exploit with a fourth-place finish and thus achieved his best DTM result as well.
For Ekstrm's team-mate Martin Tomczyk, the season opener was marked by misfortune as well: The German dropped from third to 16th place at the start but had already recovered to a place within the points when an electronic defect forced him to retire. For Alexandre Prmat and Mike Rockenfeller, the first race was just a short one: Both were entangled in a collision caused by Mercedes driver Gary Paffett on the opening lap and had to retire.
Due to a collision with Ralf Schumacher, a drive-through penalty was imposed on Katherine Legge. The Briton subsequently recovered, passed her rival Susie Stoddart, and finished the race in twelfth.
The next DTM race will be held at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz. In the meantime, Teams ABT Sportsline and Phoenix Racing will contest the 24-hour race at the Nrburgring with a total of four Audi R8 LMS cars.
FACTS AND FIGURES FROM THE HOCKENHEIM DTM RACE
- The wheels of an Audi A4 DTM turned about 2206 times per lap at Hockenheim
- The winner, Tom Kristensen, completed 178.386km in the race
- The average speed was 163.165km/h
- Hockenheim was the 100th DTM race since the DTM was re-invented in 2000
- Audi celebrated its 49th race victory in the DTM
- This was Audi's 46th pole position in the DTM
- For Team ABT Sportsline, this was the 30th DTM victory
- For the 27th time in 54 races, an Audi A4 DTM started from pole
- 12 audi race cars started at Hockenheim - more than at any other previous DTM race
- Audi drivers occupied the top five grid positions at Hockenheim