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Mattias Ekström fastest in close-fought final practice session

Photo: ITR e.V.

The final practice session of the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) season opener saw Sweden’s Mattias Ekström go fastest around the Hockenheimring with a 1:33.833.

The 4.574-km track saw another hotly-contested 30-minute affair, as the entire field was separated by 1.086 seconds in the run up to the final qualifying session of the weekend.

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The two-time champion set his best lap of the session with less than five minutes minutes remaining, which saw him leading an Audi Sport 1-2, with Mike Rockenfeller 0.141 seconds behind.

Mercedes’ best driver was Paul Di Resta, showing that the C63 AMG DTM again has very good pace from the outset, as the top three were separated by 0.286 seconds.

Britain’s Jamie Green and yesterday’s race one winner, Edoardo Mortara, made it another strong showing from the Ingolstadt ranks, as they completed the top five.

Robert Wickens, who finished second yesterday, posted the sixth fastest time ahead of Tom Blomqvist, who along with Team RBM teammate, Maxime Martin, made it two BMWs in the top ten.

Martin was five thousands of a second behind Team Rosberg’s Nico Müller in ninth place, but was a fraction ahead of Maximilian Göttz, who rounded out the top ten.

Team MTEK’s Augusto Farfus was leading the session at one point before Ekström continued to up the pace in the latter half. The Brazilian ended up just outside the top ten by 0.109 seconds, ahead of the Audis of Timo Scheider and Adrien Tambay.

António Félix da Costa received a five-second time penalty for incorrect DRS usage in yesterday’s opening race, but it wasn’t significant enough for the Portuguese driver to lose his place. He was 1.084 seconds off the pace in 23rd, just behind Mercedes rookie Esteban Ocon.

Daniel Juncadella, who received a three-place grid penalty for his accident with Timo Glock on lap 2, was nearly a second of the pace set by Ekström in his Mercedes, down in 19th place.

Qualifying for race two of the 2016 DTM season starts at 12:30 local time (11:30 British Summer Time).

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