Audi one-two at Brno, Frentzen finishes third
“I love Brno. This turns and bends are just fantastic,” cheered reigning DTM Champion Mattias Ekström (Audi) after having secured his first win in the 2005 DTM season, thus securing ten valuable championship points. Denmark’s Tom Kristensen (Audi A4 DTM) crossed the line just three tenths of a second behind the winner to finish second, while the crowds cheered for Opel driver Heinz-Harald Frentzen. 38,000 had travelled to Brno for the DTM weekend and celebrated the German’s third place. In the 14th race of his DTM career, Frentzen secured his first podium finish.
Behind the wheel of his Opel Vectra GTS V8, Frentzen won the start against pole-sitter and championship leader Gary Paffett (Mercedes-Benz), and up to his first pit stop he was involved in a thrilling battle with Mattias Ekström and Tom Kristensen. Afterwards, Ekström benefited from a truly fast stop and took the lead. “My short first stop was the key factor on my way to win the race,” revealed the Swede. Then, Kristensen also increased the pressure on Frentzen and passed the former Formula One ace for second position. At the end of the day, the Audi drivers repeated their one-two gained last year. “That’s a sensational result,” beamed Frentzen. “I gave my very best, but third place was the best I could achieve.” Pole-sitter Gary Paffett, however, was penalised with a drive-thru penalty for a jump start and lost a lot of ground. Yet, the Briton proved his fighting spirit by working his way back up to finish fourth.
AMG-Mercedes C-Class driver Jamie Green came in fifth, with the following Audi trio, Christian Abt, Scotland’s Allan McNish and Frank Stippler, also scoring valuable championship points. Once again, two 2004 spec car drivers, Abt and Stippler, succeeded in adding points to their tallies. Former Formula One driver McNish, however, might have clinched an even better result hadn’t he been penalised with a drive-thru penalty for pit-lane speeding. Jean Alesi, the winner of the season opener, finished ninth and had to leave Brno empty-handed.
Two-time Formula One World Champion Mika Häkkinen experienced a dose of bad luck. Due to a puncture, the Finn who had won the previous DTM round, at Spa, had to pit already in lap three.
Thanks to today’s win, 26-year old Ekström has got 27 points on his tally and took the championship lead. Gary Paffett (24 points) holds second place, with Häkkinen and Alesi (17 points each) being joint third. The next DTM round will be held from 24th to 26th June, at Oschersleben.
Race quotesMattias Ekström (Winner, Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline): “I’m just delighted to have won. Quite obviously, my first pit stop turned out to be the key factor on my way to win the race. Only half a second longer and I had rejoined the race in third position.”
Tom Kristensen (2nd place, Audi Sport Team Abt): “We’re back. This one-two is just fantastic, for Audi. Yet, when it comes to my situation, I could have achieved an even better result. After a poor start I was involved in a great battle with Heinz-Harald. We made contact when I made my first overtaking effort, but that’s just a part of motor racing.”
Heinz-Harald Frentzen (3rd place, Stern Team OPC): “It’s great to be back on the podium. This result is just sensational and more than we dared to expect. It was important that I succeeded in getting the upper hand, at the start. This offered me the opportunity of getting the maximum performance out of my car. But in the closing stages, Audi was just too competitive. Mattias pressurised me and although I tried to fend him off, that was that. It was just impossible to take an even better result.”
Gary Paffett (4th place, DaimlerChrysler Bank AMG-Mercedes): “The jump start was my mistake. Although I didn’t benefit from it, it was correct to penalise me. Regulations are there to be obeyed. My mistake cost us a podium finish. But by finishing fourth and scoring five points, we succeeded in cutting our losses.”
Audi Motorsport Director Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich: “What a thrilling race. The crowds were provided with great touring car racing. The entire team has made an extremely professional job. We are just delighted and satisfied to have secured this one-two. Altogether, we have delivered a great team effort.”
Opel Motorsport Director Volker Strycek: “We’re truly delighted with our third place. Heinz-Harald has performed a splendid race and was absolutely able to match the pace of the leaders. The hard work of our entire team has paid off, today.”
Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Director Norbert Haug: “Congratulations to Audi on the win and to Opel on this very good performance. This hasn’t been our race, today. After his drive thru-penalty for his jump start, Gary set excellent lap times to work his way up to fourth place and score five points. It was a thrilling race and the battle for the championship remains extremely close. Now I’m looking forward to Oschersleben.”