Race of Champions superstar Mattias Ekstrom had a funny old 35th birthday in Nuremberg yesterday, battling through safety cars and some typical DTM carnage to score Audi’s first win on the superfast city speedway in a decade, only to have the win taken off him, apparently, for taking a bottle of water into parc ferme. The organisers then also find him €1000 for not replacing his steering wheel. All he wanted was a card, maybe a cake. Audi has said it will appeal.
Ekstrom’s disqualification means Mercedes took at one-two-three at the Norisring, championship leader Robert Wickens leading home HWA teammate Christian Vietoris and Mücke Motorsport’s Daniel Juncadella.
Wickens led from pole early on, but an early safety car and quick calls from Ekstom’s Abt Audi and Eduardo Mortara’s Rosberg Audi teams gave them the advantage and Ekstrom closed in, first on reigning champ Bruno Spengler’s M3, and then Wickens’ C-coupe.
The two leading Audis made late final stops and while Ekstrom maintained the lead Mortara found himself in extremely close company with Gary Paffett’s Mercedes on his exit from the pits with the inevitable result — this being DTM — that the two collided under braking in to turn one. Mortara damaged the front of the RS5 and Paffett slipped back a few places. But they weren’t done yet and on the final lap the two again collided, this time at turn four, and both retired. It wasn’t a great weekend for Paffett who’d already picked up a drive-through penalty for a jumped start. Fellow Brit Jamie Green — four times winner at the Norisring — has a poor qualifying and his Audi never looked likely to make it five.
You can watch the whole race on the DTM’s YouTube channel and we urge you to; there are few tracks in the world quite as dramatic as the Norisring…