DTM finale preview: Ekström is just a step from his third title
The great finale of the 2017 DTM season is in front of us. This weekend, Hockenheimring will host eighteen drivers in the superfast Audi, BMW and Mercedes cars in the ninth and the last round of the 18th season of the modern Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters.
Six drivers are still in a game for taking a championship title. After sixteen races, in which he scored one victory and five more podiums, Audi driver Mattias Ekström is leading the championship with 172 points on his account.
Fifty-six points are the maximum to score in two qualifying sessions and two races at Hockenheimring, so even the sixth-placed Lucas Auer (Mercedes), who has 131 points, is hoping for a miracle to catch his maiden title in his third DTM season.
Between Ekström and Auer, there were three more Audi drivers, Rene Rast (151 points), Jamie Geen (137) and Mike Rockenfeller (134), who can take the title. Defending champion Marco Wittmann is the only BMW representative in a title fight, with 134 points on his account.
Wittmann and Ekström are already a two-time DTM champions and they have a chance to join Klaus Ludwig and Bernd Schneider on the list of only drivers in DTM history with more than two titles. Wittmann triumphed in 2014 and 2016, while Ekström has already forgotten his championship celebrations in 2004 and 2007. Mike Rockenfeller also has championship trophy from 2013.
Ekström has a chance to catch a title even on Saturday if he extends his advantage from 21 to at least 29 points before the last race.
In the manufacturers’ standings, Audi leads with 697 points against Mercedes (531) and BMW (484), so we can conclude that championship battle is already resolved. Among the teams, Audi Sport Team Rosberg leads ahead of Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline (288:253) and only those two teams would have an opportunity to take a champagne from a fridge.
“Our car is very strong this season. We’re entering the finale with advantages in all three championships. Obviously, we intend not to let anyone take the trophies away from us on the finish straight. At the same time, it’s clear that nothing has been decided yet and anything is always possible in the DTM – especially this season. This is another reason why the fans can look forward to a tremendous final weekend. Hockenheim is a track that stands for action-packed events. Overtaking is possible and the circuit makes high demands on the brakes and tires. I’m expecting a close, balanced field,” says Head of Audi Motorsport Dieter Gass.