Victory for "rain king" Bernd Schneider at season final
In front of 57,000 spectators at the Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg at the final round of the DTM, Bernd Schneider (Mercedes-Benz CLK-DTM) celebrated his second season victory. After a turbulent race, marked by changing weather conditions and two safety car interventions, Schneider crossed the finish line ahead of Mattias Ekström (Abt-Audi TT-R) and Uwe Alzen (Mercedes-Benz CLK-DTM).
This made last year's champion to runner-up of the current season behind Abt-Audi-driver Laurent Aiello, who had already secured himself the title at the penultimate round. Schneider's team Vodafone/AMG-Mercedes won the teams' title. Opel-driver Timo Scheider started twelfth into the qualification race and finished fourth after a sensational race.
Three Mercedes-Benz-drivers among the first five
With race winner Schneider, third-placed Alzen and Marcel Fässler in fifth place, three Mercedes-Benz works-drivers made it into the top five. Former F1-driver Jean Alesi however had a week-end to forget: having already retired in the qualification race after a collision, Alesi had a big shunt in the main race after having been hit by another driver. Alesi escaped unscathed.
Race winner Bernd Schneider was very happy: "It was a great season with all highs and lows that a racing driver can experience -- and for me, it had a happy ending." Young Stefan Mücke from Berlin was the best-placed driver with a 2001-spec Mercedes-Benz CLK-DTM and celebrated his best-ever DTM-result in eighth place. He had started 20th.
Mercedes motorsport-director Norbert Haug summed up: "We can be really satisfied. We have scored five wins, we are runner-up in the drivers' classification and we are champion of the teams. Today, Bernd drove an extraordinary race."
Abt-Audi: very happy and proud after a great season
"We haven't won the teams' title, but of course, we are very happy and proud after such a great season," team principal Hans-Jürgen Abt said. Laurent Aiello, who had won the eight laps' qualification race, remained too long out on the track on slick tyres as the rain set in and thus lost out on a possible fifth season victory. "In the dry, my car was perfect, but on a wet track, it was hard to drive," said Aiello, who eventually scored one point in sixth place. "My drivers' title is a reward for the entire team, which in my heart really is the best."
At the Hockenheimring, Mattias Ekström scored his sixth podium finish of the season and commented: "Against Bernd Schneider in the rain, I just had no chance."
Opel: Scheider just missed out on podium finish, Cecotto tenth
Opel-youngster Timo Scheider just missed out on a podium finish in fourth place. "The team wanted to call me into the pits for a tyre change, but unfortunately, I heard the radio call a little too late and therefore came in one lap late," Scheider explained. Joachim Winkelhock finished seventh, Johnny Cecotto came home in tenth place at his DTM-return. "Of course, we would have liked to finish the season with a podium finish, but after yesterday's qualifying result, I am not unhappy at all with three cars in the top ten," Opel motorsport director Volker Strycek said.