Audi driver Mattias Ekström made a step towards winning the title in the DTM race at the Red Bull Ring on Saturday: in the 15th race of the season, the Swede scored his first win of this year and extended his lead in the drivers’ standings to 28 points. “We have been fighting long enough for this first victory and I came close on three occasions where I finishes second each time. In these great conditions, one can really enjoy this win,” Ekström commented after the race. His employer Audi also had reason to be happy: the brand from Ingolstadt had a clean sweep of the podium with Jamie Green in second and Nico Müller im third place. In front of the beautiful backdrop in the hills in Styria, Mercedes-AMG driver Robert Wickens finished fourth, fifth place went to defending champion Marco Wittmann with his BMW M4 DTM.
Until four laps before the end of the race, everything looked set for a victory for Jamie Green. The Brit, who had started from pole position, led the field for most of the race. Only on lap 36, Ekström was able to overtake his fellow Audi driver. “Mattias was slightly faster than I,” the second-placed commented. “Of course, I wanted to win. It just wasn’t enough, but I am happy.”
Robert Wickens already laid the foundation for his fourth place at the start. From seventh on the grid, he moved up to fourth and defended this position against Marco Wittmann until the finish. In contact during the opening stages of the race, the Canadian damaged his car and was worried whether he would be making it to the finish in a point-scoring position at all. “That really was a tough race today,” the Mercedes driver said. “After the pit stop, the gap to Wittmann was slightly bigger and I had some space to breathe. That it was still enough to finish fourth is good.” For Marco Wittmann, fifth place on Saturday was the maximum. “I had a good battle with Robert and some opportunities to overtake, but eventually, it still didn’t work out,” Wittmann said.
In the DTM drivers’ standings, Ekström extended his lead with his 23rd career win. The Swede is now in first place with 162 points from Green (134), who moved up into second in the championship. Lucas Auer, who only finished eighth in his home race, is third with 131 points from Wittmann (125) and René Rast (124). The Audi driver spun after a collision, dropped back to last and remained without points. Prior to the race, Rast was still third in the drivers’ standings.
The second race at Spielberg will start on Sunday at 15.15 hrs. ARD is broadcasting the third-to-last race of the season from 15.00 hrs onwards. In qualifying (from 11.55 hrs live on ONE), the starting grid positions for the race will be determined.