Jean Alesi and Peter Dumbreck fastest in first encounter
Jean Alesi (AMG-Mercedes CLK) decided the first encounter at the eighth round of the DTM at the A1-Ring in his favour with the fastest lap time of 1.28.935 minutes and the minimal margin of 0.023 seconds over Peter Dumbreck with the Opel Astra V8 Coupé in 1.28.958 minutes. Points leader Bernd Schneider (AMG-Mercedes CLK, 1.29.055 minutes) was only 0.097 behind the Scot in third, followed by Mattias Ekström (1.29.084 minutes) as the fastest driver of an Abt-Audi TT-R. Opel-youngster Timo Scheider (1.29.094 minutes) completed the top quintet that was separated by only one and a half tenths of a second.
"The character of the track suits our CLK very well and my car is perfectly balanced," the first leader of the weekend, Jean Alesi, says. "I hope that we will have a full house with this beautiful weather, and above all, of course, I hope that I will be in the middle of the podium on Sunday afternoon."
Opel's fastest driver Peter Dumbreck predicts: "When you look at how close the lap times are here, it will be a highly exciting race. I really like the A1-Ring. You can drive different lines here, there are some really fast sections here. And there is a possibility for slipstream fights at the end of the main straight, a thing that, unfortunately, can't be found on many tracks anymore. There, we will have some spectacular outbraking manoeuvres."
Champion Laurent Aiello, seventh with the Abt-Audi TT-R and within striking distance to his French compatriot Alesi, only three tenths of a second behind, announces: "I will defend my title until the final lap and make life as difficult as possible for the Mercedes-guys."
Before the eighth of ten rounds, Schneider, Christijan Albers, Marcel Fässler (all Mercedes-Benz) and Aiello still can become champion. The race on Sunday will be the longest of the season with a distance of 173.04 kilometres and 40 laps on the 4.326 kilometres long up- and downhill track.
Formula 1 world champion Lauda joining Rosberg & Stuck at the A1-Ring
Together with his son Mathias, three times' Formula 1 world champion Niki Lauda is visiting the DTM at the A1-Ring. Father Lauda is looking after the career of young female driver Natacha Gachnang in the Formula BMW ADAC championship, son Mathias is being accompanied by a film team. Thus, three sons are in Styria with their famous racing fathers: Nico, the son of F1-world champion Keke Rosberg, is racing in the Formula 3 Euro Series, Johannes Stuck, son of Hans-Joachim, is competing in the ADAC VW Lupo Cup.