DTM

Norisring: Friday practices report

The hot battle at the Norisring has begun The first DTM test at of the Norisring weekend was held in midsummer temperatures of about 30°C (air) and nearly 40°C (track). In the heat, Opel's Marcel Fässler kept his cool better than all his...

The hot battle at the Norisring has begun

The first DTM test at of the Norisring weekend was held in midsummer temperatures of about 30°C (air) and nearly 40°C (track). In the heat, Opel's Marcel Fässler kept his cool better than all his rivals and succeeded in setting the first fastest session lap time of the weekend: behind the wheel of his Vectra GTS V8, the Swiss deriver lapped the 2.3-kilometre circuit in 49.732 seconds, with Bruno Spengler (AMG-Mercedes C-Class) finishing second.

Behind the wheel of his 2004 spec car, the Canadian was 0.137 seconds slower than Fässler and had held the lead for quite a while, when the Swiss Opel driver gained the top position on the time sheets, in the middle of the session. At the end of the 90-minute session, Fässler's Opel brand-mate, Manuel Reuter, took third place.

Behind the top three, Gary Paffet - currently second in the championship - secured fourth position, followed by his Mercedes-Benz brand-mate Jean Alesi, while Tom Kristensen, the fastest of the Audi A4 DTM drivers, finished sixth.

The top ten were completed by Jamie Green, reigning champion Mattias Ekström, Bernd Schneider and Laurent Aiello, while Mika Häkkinen had to settle for 14th position, in the weekend's first test session. Only yesterday, the DTM rookie completed his maiden Norisring laps - behind the wheel of a production car and on a scooter.

Because of DTM's extreme competitiveness, everything has to work perfectly if you want to be successful at the Norisring. At the end of the test, all the 20 DTM drivers had set lap times within one second, with Scotland's Allan McNish, the slowest, having been less than nine tenths of a second slower than Fässler.

Furthermore, the field represents a varied mixture of 2005 DTM cars and the 2004 spec versions of Audi and Mercedes-Benz. But: the grip level at the Norisring uses to improve slowly, therefore, Fässler's fastest lap was clearly slower than last year's pole time.

Alesi the sets the day's fastest time

Behind the wheel of his AMG-Mercedes C-Class, Frenchman Jean Alesi set the fastest lap time of the day, in the second test session. To lap the shortest circuit on the calendar, the 2.3-kilometre Norisring, the former F1 ace needed just 49.125 seconds, with his opponents following close behind.

In his Opel Vectra GTS V8, Manuel Reuter was just 0.007 seconds slower than Alesi and finished second, while reigning DTM Champion Mattias Ekström was also only fractions slower than the quickest (0.018 seconds) and took his Audi A4 DTM to third place.

Quite obviously, Alesi wasn't the only driver who clearly improved his performance, in the afternoon session. He improved his time set in the morning by nearly six tenths of a second, but the other drivers also succeeded in setting faster times.

Indeed, the field was even closer together than in the morning session, with the quickest - Alesi - having just a seven tenths of a second lead over the slowest, Allan McNish. Therefore, you may expect a similar situation in the qualifying.

Behind the top three, three Mercedes-Benz drivers took positions four to six: Jamie Green, Bernd Schneider and Gary Paffet, with Pierre Kaffer in seventh position being the fastest driver of a 2004 spec car; while Bruno Spengler, who had been fastest in the morning session, had to settle for eighth place. Opel's Marcel Fässler and Audi's Tom Kristensen completed the top ten.

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About this article
Series DTM
Drivers Jean Alesi , Mika Hakkinen , Tom Kristensen , Allan McNish , Laurent Aiello , Marcel Fassler , Bernd Schneider , Manuel Reuter , Mattias Ekström , Bruno Spengler , Pierre Kaffer , Jamie Green