Spielberg DTM: Ekstrom fends off old enemy Paffett for victory

Audi's Mattias Ekstrom beat Gary Paffett as well as treacherous weather conditions to win the 10th round of the DTM at Spielberg’s Red Bull Ring in Austria, his 21st career victory.

Spielberg DTM: Ekstrom fends off old enemy Paffett for victory
Mattias Ekström, Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline, Audi A5 DTM
Mattias Ekström, Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline, Audi A5 DTM
Mattias Ekström, Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline, Audi A5 DTM
Gary Paffett, ART Grand Prix Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM
Gary Paffett, ART Grand Prix Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM
Mike Rockenfeller, Audi Sport Team Phoenix Audi RS 5 DTM
Gridgirl of Edoardo Mortara, Audi Sport Team Abt Audi RS 5 DTM
Pascal Wehrlein, HWA AG Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM
Hans-Jürgen Abt, Teamchef Audi Sport Team Abt

Following a delayed start due to a drenched track surface, the cars were released behind the safety car. After five laps, the race finally went green with Ekstrom leading by 1.4s over Mike Rockenfeller, Paffett, Pascal Werhlein and Robert Wickens.

Saturday’s race winner Edoardo Mortara passed Wickens at Turn 2 for fifth place, with Christian Vietoris the first to go off when he locked up and sailed into the gravel at Turn 3. He was not the last.

Adrien Tambay passed Paul di Resta for eighth at Turn 1, with Nico Muller hitting di Resta at Turn 2 moments later.

Points leader Werhlein went off through the gravel at Turn 4, dropping from fourth to seventh behind Timo Scheider. Werhlein went off again at Turn 3 on lap 12, falling to ninth.

Paffett claimed second with a brave round-the-outside move on Rockenfeller at Turn 4 on lap nine, but was already 4.8s behind Ekstrom.

Rain fell hard again at half distance, and Paffett brought the gap down as conditions worsened. Paffett pitted on lap 19 for fresh wets, with Ekstrom covering him a lap later.

Ekstrom gained in the pitstop cycle, extending his lead to 6.6s as Paffett hit traffic, so Mortara not only claimed third but was right behind Paffett too until he paid a trip to the popular Turn 3 gravel trap.

Paffett closed again on Ekstrom with a quarter of the race remaining, with his pace advantage coming in the middle sector. He hacked into Ekstrom’s lead, but as conditions improved again slightly, the Swede responded with a new fastest lap with five minutes remaining and pulled away in the closing laps.

“I had a bit more in the bag,” said Ekstrom, who won by 4.3s. Mortara finished third, ahead of Rockenfeller.

Tambay went off at Turn 3, and then spun a couple of laps later, dropping to the tail of the field. That helped the error-free Muller to finish fifth, ahead of Scheider, who passed Wickens in the closing stages when he ran wide at Turn 3, but Wickens got him back a lap later.

Werhlein caught them both, and Scheider had to get his elbows out to keep him behind. Wickens was doing everything he could to help Werhlein, and looked to have achieved that at Turn 2, boxing in Scheider so Werhlein could pass, only for Scheider to take them both out at Turn 3 by pushing Wickens into Wehrlein, and both Mercs spun into the gravel.

Scheider finished sixth, but is under investigation by the stewards. TV footage relayed a radio message that told Scheider "schieb ihn raus" which translates to "push him out".

 

It was another miserable race for erstwhile points leader Jamie Green, who made no progress from his 17th starting spot. He suffered a visit to the Turn 3 gravel trap on lap 18, distracted by Dani Juncadella going off in front of him, and finished 18th.

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