With one round still to go, Martin Tomczyk holds such an unassailable lead in the standings as to be crowned champion a race early. The death blow was dealt to his rivals when Tomczyk came in third place this past weekend at the penultimate round in Valencia – one of a handful of DTM races held outside Germany – as part of an Audi-dominated 1-2-3-4-5-6 finish that relegated Mercedes-AMG drivers Bruno Spengler and Gary Paffett to seventh and eighth place.
Perhaps most surprising is that Tomczyk – 29 years old from Bavaria – was not even driving the latest car which two-time former champion, Audi poster boy and winner of the race in Valencia, Mattias Ekstrom, has at his disposal. No, Tomczyk managed to beat out everyone else with a car that's three years old.
Tomczyk will presumably be driving the new A5 DTM next season, and it'll be worth watching to see him defend his title against the returning challengers from Mercedes and the new contenders from BMW, not to mention his own Audi-driving rivals. Follow the jump for the pair of press releases.
- With a podium finish Martin Tomczyk celebrates his first DTM title
- Mattias Ekström remains undefeated at Valencia
- Filipe Albuquerque with first podium result
Ingolstadt/Valencia, October 2, 2011 - Triumph at Valencia: With a 1-2-3-4-5-6 result and an early title win Audi managed to crown its 2011 DTM season. Mattias Ekström celebrated his third victory of the season, Filipe Albuquerque, as the runner-up, his first podium finish and Martin Tomczyk in third place is the new DTM Champion.
Third place was sufficient for Martin Tomczyk to be determined as the early title winner. With a 13-point advantage over his title rival, Bruno Spengler (Mercedes-Benz), the Bavarian managed a special feat: For the first time he won the coveted DTM trophy, for the first time Audi Sport Team Phoenix achieved this with a year-old car, and it has been seven years that an Audi driver was determined as the champion even before the finale. In 2004, Mattias Ekström, who now celebrated overall victory at Valencia, had last secured an early title win. Tomczyk had managed a perfect recovery after having started from position ten on the grid. As early as on lap one he was on position six, and in third place after his second stop.
"I extend warm congratulations to Martin Tomczyk, his team and the entire Audi squad on this outstanding achievement. The fans experience captivating duels at the highest sporting level and in Martin an absolutely deserving champion of the 2011 season," says Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG. "After the triumph at the Le Mans 24 Hours and numerous other victories this title is already crowning a successful Audi motorsport year now." His fellow board member Michael Dick, who is responsible for Technical Development, also congratulated the new champion: "'Well done' to Martin Tomczyk, who has driven an outstanding season and always proved to be a fair and tremendous sportsman both on and off the track. At the same time, the fifth DTM title of the Audi A4 DTM since its debut in the 2004 season is a fantastic farewell gift. The development of our new Audi A5 DTM for the next season is concurrently in full swing. At Audi, we're working on this car to follow in the successful footsteps of its predecessor with all our passion."
The driver who definitely dominated the racing action in Spain was Mattias Ekström. The two-time champion led the field on 38 of the 45 laps. After the successes at the Nürburgring and Oschersleben the Swede from Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline celebrated his third race victory within four races. Behind him, Filipe Albuquerque complemented what was a perfect weekend for him. The DTM rookie from Portugal had started from position two, defended his place up to seeing the checkered flag, and thus gave himself and Audi Sport Team Rosberg the best result of the season. He finished 15.847 seconds ahead of Martin Tomczyk.
Subject to an appeal which two Mercedes-Benz teams have filed against the disqualification of their drivers, three other Audi racers finished in the subsequent places at Valencia. Timo Scheider, who managed setting the fastest lap, achieved fourth place in front of his Abt team-mates Miguel Molina and Oliver Jarvis. Mike Rockenfeller took ninth place, Rahel Frey 14th. Edoardo Mortara retired in the pits three laps before the end of the race due to a handling problem.
"This has been a fantastic day for Audi," said a pleased Dr. Martin Mühlmeier, the Technical Director of Audi Sport. "Six Audi A4 DTM cars on the top six positions, Mattias Ekström has shown another top-class performance, Martin Tomczyk has clinched the title with a tremendous recovery on his own power, and Filipe Albuquerque has achieved his first podium result. We're overjoyed."
From the United States Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, who was on location at the ILMC race at Road Atlanta, sent his congratulations as well: "Absolutely well done, I'm tremendously happy for Martin. He has been a member of our Audi family in the DTM for eleven years and has experienced many ups and - no doubt - downs. But he has never lost his spirit and has emerged as a leader, particularly in this season. Now he has rewarded himself and his team for the hard work and the fighting spirit with the title. We've always known that Martin is a strong racer and a great guy - now he's also a true champion."
AUDI DRIVER MARTIN TOMCZYK IS DTM CHAMPION
- Bavarian driver secures his first DTM title early, at Valencia
- Biggest triumph achieved with a fighting spirit, humour, coolness and teamwork
- Audi Chairman Rupert Stadler: "Title crowns Audi's successful motorsport year"
Ingolstadt, October 2, 2011 - With a third place at the penultimate race of the season at Valencia Martin Tomczyk converted his first match ball: The 29-year-old driver from Rosenheim, Bavaria, is the 2011 DTM Champion and thus celebrates the biggest triumph in his motorsport career. The exploit also marks the first time in DTM history for a champion to sit in a so-called year-old car.
Valencia, October 2, 2011, 15:16 hrs, start-finish straight of the Circuit de la Comunitat Valenciana: Martin Tomczyk has made his dream come true. After the penultimate race of the 2011 season the 29-year-old driver from Rosenheim, Bavaria, is ranking at the top of the standings, with a lead that is out of reach for his rivals, and has thus been determined as the new champion of the most popular international touring car series prior to the finale at Hockenheim. Tomczyk succeeds Paul Di Resta, who has switched to Formula One, and with the biggest triumph in his career has now joined the DTM's club of champions whose members include stars like Bernd Schneider, Mattias Ekström or Timo Scheider.
"I extend warm congratulations to Martin Tomczyk, his team and the entire Audi squad on this outstanding achievement. The fans experience captivating duels at the highest sporting level and in Martin an absolutely deserving champion of the 2011 season," says Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG. "After the triumph at the Le Mans 24 Hours and numerous other victories this title is already crowning a successful Audi motorsport year now."
Audi Head of Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich was enthusiastic as well: "Absolutely well done, I'm tremendously happy for Martin. He has been a member of our Audi family in the DTM for eleven years and has experienced many ups and - no doubt - downs. But he has never lost his spirit and has emerged as a leader, particularly in this season. Now he has rewarded himself and his team for the hard work and the fighting spirit with the title. We've always known that Martin is a strong racer and a great guy - now he's also a true champion."
In the motorsport scene Martin Tomczyk's title win is regarded as a sensation - first and foremost because the German is driving a 2008-specification Audi A4 DTM. After a decade in a new car of Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline he switched to a year-old car of Audi Sport Team Phoenix prior to the season. And where others might take a step back, Tomczyk really revs up: memorising the names of all mechanics before meeting them for the first time, arranging a "warm-up" barbecue, presenting himself as leader of the whole squad from the first moment. This type of fighting spirit pays off. The chemistry between Tomczyk and team director Ernst Moser, his race engineer Jürgen Jungklaus and the entire Eifel-based crew is immediately right. And it ends in collective jubilation. It is the first time in the history of the "new" DTM that the champion's trophy that weighs about 25 kilograms goes to the driver of a year-old car and the drivers of the more recent models are left behind. This may also be why it is safe to assume that there is hardly anyone in the paddock who would not be happy for the likeable Bavarian having clinched this success. And there is no doubt that Martin Tomczyk is a deserving champion.
"Despite the big challenge and responsibility in the DTM one should not totally forget the aspect of having fun," says Martin Tomczyk. And he lives this motto anew on each race weekend. The 1.88-meter tall racer is known and liked for his antics and practical jokes by all team members. At the same time, the ability to switch between humour and total concentration is one of his biggest secrets of success. Before qualifying and the race Tomczyk withdraws into himself, mentally drives every meter of the track with his eyes closed and deeply immersed in thought in order to then squeeze out the crucial hundredths.
Another key to success: Tomczyk's coolness and inner calm off the track. With his brother Tobias as a close friend and manager and his partner Christina Surer, Tomczyk, the family man, has found his personal comfort zone - at home in Basel, where the couple is now living, just like in the paddock between practice sessions and technical meetings. Whether it is an unusual request by a TV station - before the race at Valencia Tomczyk posed as Don Johnson with a white suit, wig and plastic pelican - or granting what feels like the 1000th request for an autograph: he always remains friendly and down to earth, which is not to say that Martin Tomczyk does not know exactly what he wants and also states his opinion in a fair and frank manner. He can afford to do so because his word carries some weight. The race at Valencia was Tomczyk's 112th run in the DTM - only Timo Scheider and Mattias Ekström are topping this mark in the current driver field.
It all started on April 22, 2001. There was hardly another new driver in the DTM whose debut raised as many eyebrows as Martin Tomczyk's. At the age of only 19, then the youngest DTM driver of all time, and without a single race lap in a touring car under his belt, he entered the DTM with the private Abt Sportsline team. It took only a few weeks for all the eyebrows to lower again. At his third race he started from the front row. Since then Tomczyk has long become one of the seasoned campaigners. He has reached his destination in his private life and in motorsport. And on this 2nd day of October he has finally made his dream come true as well.