Schneider takes an early title, Aiello and Alzen still fighting for second

Spielberg. As the first driver in history, Bernd Schneider (Mercedes-Benz) succeeded in defending his title of German touring car champion. In the eighth of ten rounds of the DTM, the 37-year old secured himself his third DTM-title with a never-challenged and dominant victory. With two remaining races, Schneider is leading the points standings with 137 points from fellow-Mercedes-driver Uwe Alzen (77 points) and Laurent Aiello (Abt-Audi, 75 points) and can't be caught anymore. It was Schneider's 34th DTM-victory. He won by more then eight seconds from Laurent Aiello with the Abt-Audi TT-R and Uwe Alzen. With the Opel Astra V8 Coupe, Manuel Reuter finished fourth in the turbulent race, in which several cars retired following a start collision.

The old and new champion had dominated the race week-end at the A1-Ring as he pleased. He was in front in all practice sessions, claimed pole position, defended his position in the qualifying race and finally was unapproachable in the main race. "It was an overwhelming week-end", a happy Schneider said. "From Friday to today, I have been the fastest and that is highly unusual in the DTM. The car was perfect from the word go and I want to give everything and get the best out of it. To me, it was great fun." Laurent Aiello congratulated the new champion and said: "It is an honour to fight against a champion like Bernd and a great challenge all the time." Last year's runner-up Manuel Reuter announced: "Next year, we will try everything not to make it that easy for Bernd."

For Reuter, it was the best result of the season after finishing fifth at the Nurburgring a fortnight ago. The Austrian-based driver climbed up to tenth in the championship. "This time, we were lucky and got the reward for hard work. Our tactic was right and I am happy to have secured fourth place. Since the Norisring, things definitely are improving at Opel, which we confirm from race to race. The potential is not yet enough for victory, but when we are constantly fourth or fifth, it is excellent. Then, a podium place could even be within reach."

Alzen and Aiello only two points apart is now awaiting a fascinating fight for runner-up in Zandvoort and Hockenheim, in which also Mercedes-drivers Peter Dumbreck with 67 points and Marcel Fassler with 60 points will want to play a role. Aiello: "The race here at the A1-Ring was hard. In the beginning, I fought every lap like a lion, it was just like in qualifying. When I noticed that there was no way to catch Bernd, I took it a little bit easier, in order to save the brakes a little, which are being used very hard here." Abt-team boss Hans-Jurgen Abt: "We never thought it would be possible for us to fight for second place in the championship this year, and now Laurent is quite close to that. That is very pleasing and motivating for us. The races in Zandvoort and Hockenheim will be real highlights."

Result race:

1. Bernd Schneider (Mercedes) 41:31.417 minutes 2. Laurent Aiello (Abt-Audi) 8.371 sec. behind 3. Uwe Alzen (Mercedes) 20.362 4. Manuel Reuter (Opel) 23.241 5. Patrick Huisman (Mercedes) 26.896 6. Marcel Fassler (Mercedes) 32.234 7. Hubert Haupt (Opel) 38.175 8. Yves Oliver (Opel) 40.174 9. Joachim Winkelhock (Opel) 48.086 10. Darren Turner (Mercedes) 1:10.301

Championship points:

1. Bernd Schneider (Mercedes) 137 points ***Champion*** 2. Uwe Alzen (Mercedes) 77 points 3. Laurent Aiello (Abt-Audi) 75 points 4. Peter Dumbreck (Mercedes) 67 points 5. Marcel Fassler (Mercedes) 60 points 6. Patrick Huisman (Mercedes) 50 points 7. Thomas Jager (Mercedes) 42 points 8. Mattias Ekstrom (Abt-Audi) 30 points 9. Marcel Tiemann (Mercedes) 26 points 10. Manuel Reuter (Opel) 25 points