Maiden DTM-win for Bernd Maylander in the last race at the Grand Prix track
With a dramatic and exciting final, the DTM has said farewell to this season and to the Grand Prix-track of the Hockenheimring. On the 6.823 km long track, Bernd Maylander (Team Eschmann-Stahl AMG Mercedes) secured victory in a dominant way from his fellow-Mercedes-drivers Peter Dumbreck and Bernd Schneider (both D2 AMG Mercedes). Schneider, who was already crowned as champion at the A1-Ring, showed an incredible overtaking race. Having started only last on the grid for the main race, following an accident in the qualifying race, he finished third. The runner-up of last season, Manuel Reuter (Opel Team Phoenix), showed once more his fighting abilities. Having started from 15th on the grid, he only just missed out on a podium finish by a few centimetres. He finished fourth. Best Abt-Audi-driver was Mattias Ekstrom (Abt Sportsline Junior) in sixth place. 65,000 spectators watched a DTM-final as it should be.
With Bernd Maylander, who also drives the safety car in Formula 1, this year's DTM got the sixth winner out of ten races. Schneider won three times, Laurent Aiello (Abt-Audi) and Uwe Alzen each claimed the trophy on two occasions and there was one victory each for Marcel Fassler and Dumbreck (all Mercedes). Behind champion Schneider, Alzen secured himself second place in the championship in the final round. In the points, he is followed by Dumbreck, Fassler and Aiello.
Maylander, initially running in second place, took the lead after a problem with the wheel-change during the pit stop of Patrick Huisman. Maylander, who had to sit out three races after braking his heel bone, dominantly defended his position until the finish, while there were several door-to-door-fights going on behind him. "I could feel the weather change in my foot and I opted for the right set-up", the winner joked. "My car was very well balanced, so good, that I didn't have to take any risks. A big hand to my team boss Olaf Manthey and my crew in the pits, who have made my victory possible with their effort. The fact that our Eschmann-Stahl-Team has taken third place in the team classification in its first DTM-season, is a great success." Mercedes motorsport boss Nobert Haug said: "This week-end, the Eschmann-Stahl-cars were the fastest by far. I am very happy for Bernd, as this victory certainly is his breakthrough."
In the fight for runner-up, Frenchman Laurent Aiello couldn't play a role anymore after having barrel-rolled several times with his Abt-Audi TT-R in the qualifying race: he escaped unhurt, but had to retire. Team boss Hans-Jurgen Abt commented: "This year, we have had great week-ends with race wins and podium finishes, this week-end was a bad one. But at the end of the season, we have three of our four drivers in the top ten of the championship, that is an excellent result. Furthermore, I think, that we have added some colour to the field."
"For us, this is the end of a rather moderate season, and we are happy, that it is over", said Opel motorsport boss Volker Strycek. "However, what Manuel Reuter has shown today, was extraordinary. He has had great fights with Alzen and Schneider and has caught up with Schneider. With Michael Bartels, we had pole position, and the Astra Coupe was very competitive in the race. Of course, you think about a podium finish. Too bad, that Michael had so much bad luck, and Timo Scheider was in a promising fourth place, when he had to retire due to a problem with the pump of the power steering."
1. Bernd Maylander (Mercedes) 32:36.174 2. Peter Dumbreck (Mercedes) 3,414 seconds down 3. Bernd Schneider (Mercedes) 14.825 4. Manuel Reuter (Opel) 15.054 5. Marcel Fassler (Mercedes) 21.560 6. Mattias Ekstrom (Abt-Audi) 22.729 7. Uwe Alzen (Mercedes) 25.286 8. Darren Turner (Mercedes) 26.015 9. Christijan Albers (Mercedes) 29.774 10. Thomas Jager (Mercedes) 34.669
Final points standings:
1. Bernd Schneider (Mercedes) 161 points 2. Uwe Alzen (Mercedes) 101 3. Peter Dumbreck (Mercedes) 88 4. Marcel Fassler (Mercedes) 76 5. Laurent Aiello (Abt-Audi) 75 6. Patrick Huisman (Mercedes) 63 7. Thomas Jager (Mercedes) 43 8. Mattias Ekstrom (Abt-Audi) 9. Manuel Reuter (Opel) 35 10. Christian Abt (Abt-Audi) 29