Mattias Ekström triumphs in rain at Hockenheim
Mattias Ekström made the Audi victory at the DTM season opener at Hockenheim perfect. The Swede won race two on Sunday and, despite heavy rainfall, brought home a commanding victory.
After Jamie Green’s win at race one on Saturday, the Ingolstädt carmaker kicks off the 2015 season with two successes. The dry and wet tire of the premium manufacturer Hankook performed convincingly over the entire DTM race weekend, delivering a high level of grip and superior consistency.
The field on Sunday started under dry conditions, but with increasingly heavy rain setting in, the drivers had to change to wet tires from Hankook after about a third of the distance. Taking up the race from second on the grid, Mattias Ekström swept into the lead after four laps and underlined his driving prowess on a wet track. The 36 year old crossed the finish line more than seven seconds ahead of his Audi colleague Edoardo Mortara.
Gary Paffett also put in a strong performance. The Mercedes-Benz pilot was relegated to 23rd place on the grid due to a missing DRS spacer in qualifying, but fought his way through the field in the rain to ultimately clinch third. Martin Tomczyk and the current DTM champion Marco Wittmann (both BMW) followed on positions four and five, with pole-sitter Mike Rockenfeller (Audi) finishing sixth. The overall leader after the first DTM weekend is Edoardo Mortara (Audi) with 30 points, followed by his Audi colleague and two previous race winners Mattias Ekström and Jamie Green (both 25 points).
The Ventus Z207 wet tires of the exclusive DTM partner Hankook, which were run over two thirds of the race distance, gave drivers optimal support, even in extremely wet conditions. “As the rain became torrential, there was water everywhere on the circuit. Still, aquaplaning was not an issue. The rubber gave the pilots security and control,” summed up Hankook’s DTM race engineer Thomas Baltes after the race.
Mattias Ekström (Audi): “The Hankook slick was really good, but we only drove a couple of laps with it and had to change to wet tires once heavy rain set in. And these worked perfectly from start to finish.”
Gary Paffett (Mercedes-Benz): “We actually expected to start on wet tires. But since it was dry at first, we had to start on slicks. They worked well, and afterwards, with water lying everywhere on the track, the Hankook wet tires proved fantastic. They were incredibly fast and consistent and we had precisely the right air pressure.”
Martin Tomczyk (BMW): “In the dry I was very pleased with Hankook’s race tires, in the rain we slightly miscalculated the air pressure. For this reason I wasn’t able to use the full potential of the tire. But we’ve underlined that we can be quick on Hankook rubber, and so I’m pleased with fourth place.”