Mattias Ekström claims first season pole with Hankook tyresMercedes-Benz driver Jamie Green ends up second in qualifyingBMW celebrates a great DTM comeback with third place for Dirk Werner
Mattias Ekström had a dream start at the Hockenheim DTM season opener. The Audi driver came out on top in Saturday’s qualifying and thus claimed the first pole position of the season. Jamie Green (Mercedes-Benz) was just beaten, 0.215 seconds down, and will start from second place on the grid on Sunday. At the 4.574 kilometres long track, Dirk Werner set the third fastest time with his BMW M3 DTM and thus secured a great comeback for the DTM returnee.
In bright sunshine, 22 drivers competed in the four qualifying heats. The fans were particularly eager to watch BMW’s debut from the packed grandstands. And the returnee in the most popular international touring car series was able to keep up with the two other premium car manufacturers, Audi and Mercedes-Benz. After Dirk Werner, Andy Priaulx ended up as the second-best BMW driver in seventh place. His fellow BMW driver, reigning DTM champion Martin Tomczyk, who came from Audi, will be starting from tenth place on Sunday.During the traditional season opener at the Hockenheimring, the newly developed Hankook tyres also had a successful premiere. The tyres, considerably bigger and wider than last year, shone with a high level of consistency and safety, like in the previous season, while Hankook’s engineers were again able to increase the performance. In spite of permanent sunshine, which heated up the asphalt to temperatures of over 40 degrees, the Hankook Ventus Race provided the necessary grip level at any time. The eagerly awaited race starts on Sunday at 14.00 h (local time).Mattias Ekström (Audi): “I am really happy. Like all the other teams, we have done a lot of work during the winter and then, joy for everybody is huge when you are on pole. A big compliment for the Hankook tyres that have worked perfectly, both in winter testing and on a sunny day like today. So far, we haven’t had any problems and I am certain that it will continue that way.”Dirk Werner (BMW): “This is a fantastic start and a great result for BMW. We have developed an entirely new car and this third place is an additional motivation boost for the entire team. The Hankook tyres felt perfectly. I had incredibly good grip and total confidence in the tyres.