DTM

A1-Ring: F?ssler takes victory in chaotic race

DTM-title decision postponed -- heart beat final at the A1-Ring So exciting can touring car racing be: at the eighth round of the DTM at the A1-Ring in Spielberg, Austria, 34,000 spectators came to watch one of the best races in the top class ...

DTM-title decision postponed -- heart beat final at the A1-Ring

So exciting can touring car racing be: at the eighth round of the DTM at the A1-Ring in Spielberg, Austria, 34,000 spectators came to watch one of the best races in the top class touring car series. Countless position changes, exciting fights and a highly dramatic final: the second appearance of the DTM in Austria had it all. Swiss Marcel Fässler claimed the second DTM-victory of his career in the province of Styria with the Mercedes-Benz CLK-DTM.

Fellow Mercedes-driver Bend Schneider kept his title hopes alive with second place. Points leader Laurent Aiello came only home in fifth place with his Abt-Audi TT-R following a collision with reigning champion Schneider on the final lap-- and thus gave away his first match point for the title. In order to secure the title early, the Frenchman had to score only two points more than Schneider in Austria. Jean Alesi and Uwe Alzen completed the Mercedes-Benz triumph with third and fourth place.

The race was unfortunate for the Opel-team as well. Alain Menu and Timo Scheider were in points-scoring positions with their Opel Astra V8 Coupés until just before the end, but then became innocently involved in spins on the slightly wet track together with fellow-Opel-driver Manuel Reuter. Thus, Swiss Menu was the only one who still managed to score a point for the manufacturer from Rüsselsheim.

Bernd Schneider:" Luck was on my side today"

"Maybe, we will never see a race like today again," said Bernd Schneider. "It was complete chaos, but as a slight drizzle set in towards the end of the race, I knew: this is my chance. During the course of the race, I was off the track twice in the heat of the fight, but in the end, luck was on my side. I also have to thank my team mates, who have supported me in a great way."

Marcel Fässler was happy with his second victory, but he was also surprised by the success: "I saw that Laurent and Bernd had spun on the final corner, but I only knew after the finish that I had won." Mercedes-Benz motorsport director Norbert Haug praised: "With four drivers on the first four places, we were very strong today. Of course, we are in a championship situation now where the team performance counts as well, and that was very good today. There was some contact here and there, but always within reason. We will do everything to make sure that the title race will only be decided at the season final in Hockenheim."

Hans-Jürgen Abt:" This let is hope for an exciting race in Zandvoort"

Although some had expected an early decision from fastest qualifier Laurent Aiello and Abt Sportsline at the A1-Ring, there was hardly any sense of disappointment at the team from the Allgäu after the great race. "Today's race often reminded me of a football match," team principal Hans-Jürgen Abt said. "However, Mercedes had ten players in the field, whereas we only had five. But our crew has shown a great performance. Laurent already was champion a couple of times during the race, but eventually, it wasn't enough. However, this lets us hope for an exciting race at Zandvoort."

Aiello still scored two points for fifth place and commented: "It was just as hard as we expected, or even harder. Now, we will work twice as hard and prepare very well to convert the second match point into the title in Zandvoort. Aiello's fellow-Abt-Audi-driver, Swede Mattias Ekström, showed a good performance once again: the 24-year old had won the qualification race and also dominated the first part of the main race, but then dropped back after spins in the closeness of the competition.

Opel motorsport director Strycek:" Podium place would have been possible"

"Even when this result doesn't mirror the real potential of our cars and our drivers, this race surely was one of the best in the history of the DTM," Opel motorsport director Volker Strycek commented. "A podium place would have been within reach, we drove identical lap times at the other two makes. Three of our cars could have scored points, but unfortunately, the spins of Alain Menu, Timo Scheider and Manuel Reuter on the final lap prevented us from scoring a good result, that really was within reach. Nevertheless, we remain highly motivated. It might not be for the championship, but we want to be racing for top positions again in the two remaining races."

Alain Menu, who still scored one championship point for sixth place, said: "I certainly could have scored more, but unfortunately, today, luck wasn't on our side at all."

-dtm-

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Series DTM
Drivers Jean Alesi , Laurent Aiello , Marcel Fassler , Bernd Schneider , Uwe Alzen , Manuel Reuter , Timo Scheider , Norbert Haug , Volker Strycek , Hans-Jurgen Abt , Alain Menu