Aiello wins with Abt-Audi in front of record crowd - Reuter with Opel charges
Nurburgring. Frenchman Laurent Aiello won the seventh of ten rounds of the DTM at the Nurburgring. In front of the record crowd for a touring car race of 45,000 spectators, Aiello with the Abt-Audi TT-R and Uwe Alzen with the Mercedes-Benz CLK-DTM had a fascinating battle over several laps, bumper to bumper. After 24 of 33 laps, Aiello finally went past Alzen and thus set the first step towards the second DTM-victory of his career. He celebrated his first win last May, also in the Eifel. Manuel Reuter with the Opel Astra V8 Coupe showed the fans the best overtaking race: he drove from 20th on the grid to finish fifth.
"After losing first place to Alzen right at the start of the race, I kept waiting for a change to get back past him again", Aiello explained. "I hoped that he would get a small problem at a certain stage, so that I would be able to overtake him. It was a hard, but absolutely fair fight." In the corner before the main straight, he got his chance: Aiello had taken the lead again. Alzen: "I defended my position as long as I could. But my brakes were not quite well anymore, so that I couldn't keep Laurent behind me any longer. It was one of the hardest races of my career. Laurent and I touched several times, but it was always fair. My respect, Laurent drove an excellent race." Alzen's fellow-Mercedes-driver Patrick Huisman finished the race in third place, followed by Thomas Jager, also with a Mercedes-Benz.
Manuel Reuter with the Opel Astra V8 Coupe, who was only 20th in qualifying, already made up nine positions in the qualifying race and made it up into fifth place in the main race. Reuter: "With a starting position like that, there is just one thing: fighting and up to the front! I opted for a top- speed set-up and that worked out. At Opel, we have got the reward for the hard work done in the past weeks with this result. And the crowd really got to see an excellent race: it was motor racing at its best. I am especially happy, because there were more than 5,000 Opel-fans at the track."
Points leader Bernd Schneider (Mercedes) lost over 30 seconds in his pit stop because of a defective wheel nut, thus losing out on a top result, too. He finished sixth. In the championship, he still remains in the lead but behind him, the fight is getting closer. With Peter Dumbreck, Uwe Alzen, Laurent Aiello and Marcel Fassler, there are four drivers only eleven points apart.
One of the reasons for the record crowd in the Eifel, with almost 70,000 spectators over the week-end, was also the varied family programme. For the first time, the DTM Family Circus was present at the track, where the racing drivers and motorsport directors participated in the activities, too. Furthermore, rock star Roger Chapman entertained the fans with an excellent concert for fans and drivers in the paddock.
1. Laurent Aiello (Abt-Audi) 37:29.058 2. Uwe Alzen (Mercedes) 2.870 seconds behind 3. Patrick Huisman (Mercedes) 3.850 4. Thomas Jager (Mercedes) 10.366 5. Manuel Reuter (Opel) 18.014 6. Bernd Schneider (Mercedes) 20.432 7. Bernd Maylander (Mercedes) 25.901 8. Darren Turner (Mercedes) 26.213 9. Christijan Albers (Mercedes) 26.501 10. David Saelens (Mercedes) 29.867
Championship points: 1. Bernd Schneider (Mercedes) 114 points 2. Peter Dumbreck (Mercedes) 65 3. Uwe Alzen (Mercedes) 64 4. Laurent Aiello (Abt-Audi) 60 5. Marcel Fassler (Abt-Audi) 54 6. Thomas Jager (Mercedes) 42 Patrick Huisman (Mercedes) 42 8. Mattias Ekstrom (Abt-Audi) 30 9. Marcel Tiemann (Mercedes) 26 10. Martin Tomczyk (Abt-Audi) 23