DTM

Kristensen returns to Orschersleben pole

Tom Kristensen has been struggling in qualifying as of late, but the Danish veteran put it all together today at the DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) qualifying in Oschersleben, taking pole position for Audi by a comfortable margin of 0.314 ...

Tom Kristensen has been struggling in qualifying as of late, but the Danish veteran put it all together today at the DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) qualifying in Oschersleben, taking pole position for Audi by a comfortable margin of 0.314 seconds.

"Pole in the DTM is always a nice feeling," said Kristensen. "My thanks to the whole squad that perfectly prepared the Audi A4 DTM. The DTM is currently as competitive as it's rarely been and that makes this top grid position something really special."

Kristensen had missed the cut in qualifying the last three DTM races, not making it to the third knockout segment. But today he started off strong, setting the fastest time in the morning's free practice session. The Audi driver followed that up with a confident qualifying performance, setting fastest times in both the second and third segments before clinching the pole in the fourth and final shootout segment.

Timo Scheider, whose defense of his 2008 DTM title has fallen on hard times recently, was resurgent as well. On Kristensen's tail in the earlier segments, he was not quite a match in the final one, but his time of 1:21.666 was a thousandth of a second faster than Martin Tomczyk's.

"We were bound and determined to show a strong qualifying here at Oschersleben and carefully prepared ourselves accordingly," the Audi veteran said. "The cohesive team performance with four cars at the top and seven Audi A4 DTM cars among the top eight is a nice reward for the guys."

Joining Tomczyk on the second row will be Mattias Ekstrom, making it an Audi lock-out for the front two rows. Ekstrom will be looking to make up for the two points he lost when DTM imposed a five-second penalty on him for the use of team rules late at the last race at Zandvoort.

Oliver Jarvis, who stunned the DTM circus by claiming the pole position at that Zandvoort race using a year-old Audi A4, put in another impressive performance, taking fifth position on the grid, less than three tenths off Ekstrom's pace, and ahead of all the Mercedes runners.

The one lonely Mercedes runner in the third segment, in fact, was Bruno Spengler. The 2009-spec Mercedes were carrying 20 kg of "success ballast" but that extra weight explains only about a third of Spengler's 0.9-second gap to Kristensen.

"Sixth is not the optimum grid position," Spengler admitted. "However, considering our 20-kilo weight handicap it is still OK. Tomorrow I will fight to make the best out of it."

Audi further took seventh and eighth places, with Alexandre Premat and Mike Rockenfeller filling the fourth row with two more 2008-spec Audi A4s.

Kristensen has been here -- Oschersleben pole -- before, having taken the spot by the margin of just nine thousandths of a second in 2006. He followed that up with a convincing victory, though, beating Spengler to the chequered flag by 3.5 seconds.

A repeat performance is sure to be in Kristensen's dreams tonight, but he'll have to hold off some hungry competitors -- and teammates -- to do that tomorrow.

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Series DTM
Drivers Tom Kristensen , Timo Scheider , Mattias Ekström , Bruno Spengler , Alexandre Prémat , Mike Rockenfeller , Oliver Jarvis