DTM

Mugello four day test concludes

The first official test of 2005, featuring three DTM manufacturers, concluded at Mugello on March 11th. Audi, Mercedes and Opel took to the track for four days in varying conditions and Opel's Heinz-Harald Frentzen topped the times on the first...

The first official test of 2005, featuring three DTM manufacturers, concluded at Mugello on March 11th. Audi, Mercedes and Opel took to the track for four days in varying conditions and Opel's Heinz-Harald Frentzen topped the times on the first two days.

The German's best on the 8th was 1:43.667 and on the 9th he was four tenths quicker with a 1:43.242. Marcel Fässler was the other Opel driver on duty and rolled out the 2005 Vectra. He was eighth fastest of the ten drivers on the first day and seventh on the second.

"The first laps in a new race car are always something special," said Fässler. "It is obvious, that you can't push a new car to its limits on its roll-out."

Frentzen was slightly cautious about the 2005 challenger. "The new car is easier to drive. Some other positive aspects can be seen as well. But there are still points that we will have to optimise before the start of the season."

Mercedes was represented by four drivers. Jamie Green was second fastest over all on day one, followed by Alex Margaritis. Last year's runner up in the championship Gary Paffett was ninth on the time sheet and DTM rookie Mika Häkkinen was 10th.

On the second day it was Stefan Mücke, a privateer entry this season, who was the quickest of the Mercedes-powered cars in third. Former F1 double-champion Häkkinen moved up to fifth over all, followed by three-time DTM champ Bernd Schneider. Paffett rounded off the times in 10th on day two.

Audi had four cars line astern on the 9th: Pierre Kaffer, Frank Stippler, Christian Abt and Rinaldo Capello took positions fourth to seventh. On the 10th Abt improved to second on the time sheet and Stippler to fourth, with Capello and Kaffer in eighth and ninth.

Day three saw a slow start as fog delayed the track action. Mercedes finally ousted Frentzen from the top spot when Margaritis took over, 1:43.809, followed by Green who was just a few tenths behind. Jean Alesi was at work and was eighth overall and Bruno Spengler was 10th.

Stippler and Kaffer were the lead Audis in third and fourth respectively, while Abt and Capello occupied sixth and seventh. The Audis were split by Frentzen in fifth, who took over the new Vectra, and Manuel Reuter was on duty for the first time at this test. His Opel posted ninth.

Today, March 11th, was the final day of the test and Opel returned to the front with Reuter's 1:43.512. Fässler was fifth fastest for the marque. Privateer Mücke was second on the time sheet, mere hundredths behind Reuter, and Mercedes also had three other cars on track. Alesi, Spengler and Schneider were some way behind in seventh, eighth and ninth.

Audi had Stippler and Abt in third and fourth, Capello in sixth and Kaffer rounded off the times in 10th. MG, the new DTM manufacturer for this season, was not present at this test due to not having signed any drivers as yet.

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