Title race set to explode

This weekend's Zandvoort DTM race will be critical in the title battle between Audi's Mattias Ekstrom and the Mercedes duo of Christijan Albers and Gary Paffett

Title race set to explode

Ekstrom holds a nine-point lead over Albers, with Paffett now just two points behind his AMG Mercedes team-mate despite his disqualification from victory at Lausitz earlier in the year. Ekstrom and Audi are confident of consolidating that advantage this weekend.

"I won my first DTM race here two years ago," said Ekstrom. "Then it was all about the title for my team-mate Laurent Aiello, now I've got the chance to become champion myself. But that's still a long way off. I'll give my all and will try to keep out of any scrambles in the race with the backing of my five Audi colleagues."

His team boss Hans-Jurgen Abt said: "Slowly but surely things are beginning to heat up in the championship. Our target for Zandvoort is very clear: To take as many points away from the Mercedes boys as possible in order to have a decent cushion."

Albers, meanwhile, is in dire need of a good result on home soil after two consecutive non-scores: "A good performance in qualifying is extremely important as it's very difficult to overtake on the numerous long bends at Zandvoort. I was able to win here in Zandvoort last year, and that was one of the highlights of my career."

Paffett said: "Christijan and I have to collect as many points as possible to keep alive our chances of winning the championship. My team will certainly again do their best to provide me with a car that gives me a good chance of winning, like in most of the other races this season."

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