Kiesa and Ickx ahead in first test

A huge surprise in the first DTM test at the Circuit de Catalunya: with Nicolas Kiesa in the 2004-Audi A4 DTM, the Audi customer team Futurecom TME set the fastest time while Vanina Ickx was second behind Kiesa. On his fastest lap, the Dane needed 1.06.087 minutes to lap the 2.949 kilometres short circuit of the Grand Prix track. Vanina Ickx completed the excellent team result by finishing second, 4.194 seconds down on the fastest time.

The first of two test sessions on Friday took place in adverse conditions. The Spanish sun was nowhere to be seen, it rained almost throughout the 90 minutes' session with temperatures ranging around 22 degrees.

The fastest times for Kiesa and Ickx didn't come by chance: they both set their fastest times at the beginning of the session when the track was still relatively dry. As the rain became stronger after that, the other drivers failed to match their times.

Mika Häkkinen was the fastest driver with a 2006-spec DTM car. With his AMG-Mercedes C-Class, he was third with a lap time of 1.13.201 minutes ahead of three further Mercedes-Benz-drivers: Jamie Green in fourth place, Bernd Schneider in fifth and Bruno Spengler, completing the Mercedes quartet in sixth position.

Seventh-placed Heinz-Harald Frentzen was the best-placed driver of the Audi Team Abt Sportsline in the first test. Jean Alesi was eighth, Tom Kristensen ninth and Susie Stoddart completed the top 10.

Schneider tops Mercedes-trio

Bernd Schneider set the fastest time in the second test of the DTM at the Circuit de Catalunya. With his AMG-Mercedes C-Class, the DTM record champion lapped the 2.949 kilometres long track north of Barcelona in 1.03.255 minutes.

Behind him Bruno Spengler and Mika Häkkinen completed the Mercedes-trio at the top. Two times' winner Spengler came only 0.025 seconds short of matching Schneider's fastest lap time. Fastest Audi-driver in the second test was Pierre Kaffer with the 2005-spec Audi A4 DTM in fourth place.

Audi quattro - a closed formation saw the four drivers with current A4s occupy fifth through eighth place. Led by Heinz-Harald Fentzen, Zandvoort-winner Tom Kristensen was sixth after the 90 minutes' session ahead of Mattias Ekström and Martin Tomczyk. Stefan Mücke (Mercedes-Benz) and Christian Abt (Audi) completed the top 10.

Other than in the rainy morning session, the Circuit de Catalunya showed itself much friendlier during the afternoon. Wide parts of the second test took place in sunshine. With some 30 minutes to go in Friday's final test, some drops of rain brought a brief change in the weather. The fastest driver from the first session, Nicolas Kiesa, was 15th in more stable conditions. Still, the Dane can be satisfied with this performance as he again was the best-placed driver with a 2004-spec car.

As the sun returned, so did the close competition in the DTM. The first 17 drivers, from Bernd Schneider down to Jean Alesi (Mercedes-Benz) in 17th place, all ranged within one second at the end of the second test.

-credit: dtm