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Sep 21

Battle for the DTM title comes to a climax in front of picturesque backdrop

Ekström’s declaration of love to Spielberg

DTM Spielberg 2016Timo Glock wants to repeat the win he secured last year. Mercedes-AMG travels to the Red Bull Ring with boosted confidence. The mountains are beckoning. This weekend, DTM makes its annual stop at the Red Bull Ring located at Spielberg, Austria, before the season will end with the final two races in mid-October at Hockenheim.

And the question nobody can answer at this point in time is: Who is going to win the title, in the end? Will the 15th and 16 championship rounds, held at the rollercoaster embedded into the picturesque Styrian mountain landscape, already bring the decision in the battle for the title?

There still is a maximum of 112 points to be scored and arithmetically speaking, only two of the 18 drivers are no longer involved in the battle for the title. Meanwhile, ‘only’ 10 drivers still have got realistic chances of securing the DTM crown – it couldn’t get more thrilling, could it? Will Mattias Ekström (136 points) also leave Spielberg as championship leader? “I love Spielberg,” the Swede who lives in Ellmau, Upper Austria, raves about the Red Bull Ring. “The backdrop is unique and you feel the high quality standards everywhere. Driving at the Red Bull ring always represents a unique experience. The rhythm and the differences in altitude are big fun and the extreme braking areas allow for thrilling overtaking manoeuvres.”

One of the reasons for Ekström’s enthusiasm is the fact that he won the 2015 Red Bull Ring round in the rain in superior style. In addition, he secured his last pole to date at Spielberg and he also holds the lap record. And ‘Eki’ was extremely delighted last week when he heard the news about the abolition of the controversial performance weights with immediate effect. “I always supported this move,” he said. “At first I thought somebody wanted to fool me. As I see it, this was the best decision in the season to date.”

Ekström is followed by Lucas Auer (Mercedes-AMG/127 points), René Rast (Audi/124), Marco Wittmann (BMW/115) and Jamie Green (Audi/113). Since the re-opening of the Alps circuit in 2011, Audi and BMW celebrated four race wins each, with Mercedes-AMG having failed to secure a Red Bull Ring win, to date.

“The Red Bull Ring most definitely is one of the most beautiful racetracks in the world,” says Timo Glock, currently seventh in the championship with 108 points on his tally. “And one of the reasons is the environment. Everything is relaxed and beautiful. In 2013, the circuit was the venue of my first DTM podium and last year, I even made it to the top step.” Glock also welcomes the performance-weight abolition – although the BMWs currently were the clearly lightest cars on the grid. “You have to keep the regulations as simple as possible. Therefore, it’s perfect now. It goes without saying that I would have loved to drive up the hill with 20 kilos less in my car but you have to look at the bigger picture.”

Mercedes-AMG celebrated a one-two-three-four and a one-two in the previous race meeting, at the Nürburgring. Now, in Austria, their local hero will be their spearhead: Lucas Auer holds second position in the championship, just nine points behind Ekström. “It goes without saying that I’m looking forward to my home race. I have driven an insane number of laps on this racetrack. I think it arguably is the best circuit in Europe. A race meeting everybody can feel comfortable in. I am confident although we encountered – as everybody knows – a difficult Spielberg weekend last year,” says the Austrian who had to settle for finishing 16th and 21st, in 2016.

Embedded into Styria’s mountains, the Red Bull Ring at about 700 metres about sea level is located higher than any other race venue on the DTM calendar and is extremely popular with the drivers. The 4.326-kilometre circuit is technically extremely demanding, features big differences in altitude and uphill sections with up to 12 percent incline.

The visitors may look forward to an enthralling race weekend with a multifaceted support programme. On the track, the crowds will not only witness DTM but also the Formula 3 European Championship and Audi Sport TT Cup race action. During the pit walk on Sunday, Austria’s singer and song writer Leo Aberer will entertain the spectators. He made a name for himself in an Austrian casting show. DTM’s German TV partner ARD will cover the Saturday race of the Spielberg meeting from 14:30 CEST (12:30 BST) and the Sunday race from 15:00hrs CEST.

source: dtm.com

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