The Swede enjoyed an emotional farewell from his DTM fans. After the checkered flag, it ended in donuts in front of the main grandstand and brought tears to the eyes of the two-time DTM Champion. Before the race started, his team had put on special jerseys in the Swedish national colors yellow and blue. Numerous fans and companions of the Swede, including Audi’s CEO Rupert Stadler, signed the hood of his Red Bull Audi RS 5 DTM. On Sunday morning, Ekström gave away 1,219 caps of his partner Red Bull – the Audi driver had scored exactly the same number of points in his unique DTM career. Many DTM fans wore masks with the Swede’s face and in Turn 1 across from the Audi Race Lounge a huge banner saying #AdjöMattias was displayed. The result (position 16) was of secondary importance.
Due to the gripping final stage of the race and Mattias Ekström’s farewell appearance, the performances of the other Audi drivers faded from the spotlight to some extent as well. Loïc Duval drove one of the best races in his still young DTM career that made him advance from twelfth on the grid to fifth position. Remarkably, the Frenchman this weekend was commuting between Hockenheim and Spa-Francorchamps where he contested the opening round of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) as well.
René Rast in the Audi Sport RS 5 DTM managed a strong qualifying lap on Sunday morning which secured him a spot on the front row of the grid. Due to a slower pit stop, Rast dropped behind Mike Rockenfeller in the race. In the end, the reigning DTM Champion finished in seventh position. Robin Frijns (Aral Ultimate Audi RS 5 DTM), Nico Müller (Castrol EDGE Audi RS 5 DTM) and Jamie Green (Hoffmann Group Audi RS 5 DTM) took positions twelve, 13 and 17.
Following the awesome season opener, the DTM will continue in just 14 days’ time, visiting the Lausitzring on May 19 and 20. There the series will be racing on the more demanding long version of the track again for the first time since 2004.