Along with currently trying to defend his crown in the FIA World Rallycross Championship, Audi Sport’s Mattias Ekström has been honest about wanting to go for a third Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters title, and is getting closer to the sharp end of the table after the past weekend at the Hungaroring.
The two-time champion is now just eight points behind new championship leader René Rast, having finished behind him in the second race at the 4.381-km circuit yesterday (Sunday, June 18th).
However, the Swede’s analysis of his overall performance showed just how much drivers have to take into consideration, especially with a lack of tyre warmers, softer tyres and varying weather to consider.
“I was pretty optimistic before the race, but unfortunately I heated my tyres too much before the start and bogged down a bit and I was happy not to stall,” said the 38-year-old, who felt that stopping early would keep him in contention for the victory.
“I went into the pits and came out with a clear track in front of me and drive as fast as I could, and in the beginning of the race, I felt really good and was a little bit too optimistic and had to calm down a bit, because the tyres were a bit too hot.”
With Rast having opted to pit on lap 16, it was a matter of time before he was aware that the Team Rosberg driver would catch up to him, after Ekström had built up a good rhythm which also saw him set the fastest lap of the race.
“I was quite happy to be out in front at that moment. But I had done a lot of laps on those tyres. I tried to drive as fast as I could, but at one stage when I felt the car sliding, I knew René was close, but then I saw someone else.”
Maxime Martin was also one driver that was closing on the Team Abt Sportsline ace in the latter stages, but Ekström felt it was better to play it safe and retain his podium finish, just 0.465 seconds ahead of the Belgian.
“At that moment, I didn’t realise exactly who that was at first, but every time I looked on the straight, I wondered where this white car had come from. I saw myself falling back to those behind me. I didn’t want to fight too much, as I could have ended up losing my podium.
“In the end, René was the faster guy and I’m still happy with my weekend – third in qualifying twice, leading both races and one podium. So I’m catching up with some points, and generally happy to be back in the game.”