Two weeks following his strong showing at the Norisring and a week after clinching his first victory in the World Rallycross Championship, Mattias Ekström, in the DTM’s round in Russia, again hit the headlines. In the Red Bull Audi RS 5 DTM of Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline, the Swede advanced from position eleven on the grid to third place, reducing the gap to overall leader Marco Wittmann to 20 points in the process. After the race at Moscow, Audi continues to lead the DTM manufacturers’ standings with a score of 223 points.
Following a qualifying session that was less than perfect for him, Ekström immediately made up four positions on lap one. On lap eleven, the time sheets reflected the Swede running in fourth place and three laps before the end of the race, he managed to snatch third place from ex-Formula One driver Timo Glock.
“Sundays seem to be my days quite often. This was another one of them – with plenty of tough fights,” said Mattias Ekström. “I had to keep my cool all the way to the end. Finishing this race in third place is okay, these are good points. However, I’m beginning to feel the loss of holding the ‘big’ trophy.”
Youngster Nico Müller in the Audi Financial Services Audi RS 5 DTM of Audi Sport Team Rosberg in fifth place scored the first points in his still young DTM career. The 22-year-old Swiss was initially running in third place but due to a gradual loss of grip on the front axle had to pit for a tire change earlier than scheduled. After temporarily dropping to 22nd place, the youngster managed to improve to position five and, like Ekström, overtook Timo Glock shortly before the finish.
Edoardo Mortara in the Audi Sport Audi RS 5 DTM in ninth place clinched two fiercely contested points after having dropped to the rear of the field following a collision with Jamie Green on the starting lap. On the final laps, the Italian on standard tires successfully defended himself against the massive attacks by Augusto Farfus and António Felix da Costa, who, like Miguel Molina (Audi Sport Audi RS 5 DTM) behind them, were running on the much faster option tires.
Molina, in the final stage, was the only Audi driver on option tires – which proved a disadvantage this time because he was only able to pit late on account of two safety car periods, which reduced his ability to run on the faster tires to eleven laps. The best race lap was only cold comfort for the Spaniard.
Audi Sport Team Phoenix experienced a day of huge misfortune. Timo Scheider, after 22 laps, had to park his AUTO TEST Audi RS 5 DTM with an electronic defect on the start-finish straight. The resulting safety car period indirectly sealed the fate of his team-mate Mike Rockenfeller (Schaeffler Audi RS 5 DTM). When the race was re-started, the title defender and last year’s winner, with locked wheels, slipped into the rear end of the car of his brand colleague Adrien Tambay (Playboy Audi RS 5 DTM), who was directly in front of him, in an unfortunate incident that ended the race for both of them. Both drivers were running on different strategies and up to the time of the collision, in positions three and four, had good chances of finishing on podium.
For Jamie Green, the race in Russia was over early as well. In a collision with Edoardo Mortara on the starting lap, the right rear suspension of his Hoffmann Group Audi RS 5 DTM was damaged, forcing the Briton to retire after six laps.
“The race, no doubt, didn’t go according to our expectations because we were set on repeating last year’s victory here. But we made too many mistakes,” said Dieter Gass, Head of DTM at Audi Sport, summing up the event. “Mike (Rockenfeller) was very fast on standard tires and would have had good chances. Unfortunately, he made a mistake following the safety car period, which is a very rare occurrence with him. In the end, Mattias Ekström pulled our chestnuts out of the fire with a brilliant recovery from grid position eleven to third place. Congratulations also to Nico Müller on scoring his first points in the DTM.”
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