Jean Alesi teaches young guns a lesson by snatching pole
Former Formula 1 driver Jean Alesi (AMG-Mercedes C-class) captured pole position in emphatic fashion during qualifying for the fifth race of the current DTM season on the Norisring with a time of 48.609 seconds. The Frenchman secured the first start place for the second time this season amid perfect weather conditions and was 0.111 seconds faster than team mates Gary Paffett and last year's winner Christijan Albers.
Timo Scheider in an Opel Vectra GTS V8 elbowed his way forward into the second start row with a time of 48.855 seconds on the 2.3 kilometre-long street circuit. Dane Tom Kristensen steered his Audi A4 DTM into sixth position behind four-times DTM champion Bernd Schneider (AMG-Mercedes C-class).
Stefan Mücke (7th place) and Markus Winkelhock (10th place) caused a stir by swooping into the top 10 despite driving in last year's models of the AMG-Mercedes CLK.
But there was great disappointment for Swede Mattias Ekström (Audi A4 DTM). The leader of the overall standings (on equal points with Christijan Albers) suffered a slow puncture on his rear right tyre during qualifying and will be starting Sunday's race from ninth position behind his team mate Christian Abt.
Jean Alesi (Mercedes-Benz):
"Our car had the perfect set-up for this circuit. I found the absolute ideal line on my super lap in qualifying. Pole position is a good starting point for winning the race. I always feel very comfortable on the Norisring."
Timo Scheider (Opel):
"I'm of course very satisfied with my start place in the second row. My Vectra was excellent. The reason why I've made the super pole in each of this season's five races is above all because I've changed myself. I've had a coach for mental training these past six months. This man has managed to make me know in my head what I've got to do."
Tom Kristensen (Audi):
"Because the track is so short it's very difficult getting the brakes and tyres to the right temperature in only one lap. The super pole wasn't ideal. I notably lost time in the S bend because the front tyres hadn't got sufficient grip yet. But at least I'm back again where I like to be - in the top 10. The race is very long and we know that we do better over the long distance than in a single lap."
Norbert Haug (Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Director):
"My compliments to the HWA team and our two private teams. The Norisring is slightly more suited to our car than the others. We're very good on the top speed and the brakes. But that doesn't go to say that we've won the race. It's nice, like Jean Alesi proved, that the old guys can still pull it off."
Volker Strycek (Opel Motorsport Director):
"Timo Scheider drove a superb fast lap today and registered personal top times in every section. Although the team performance was not the best, we're all very motivated by this fourth start place in the race. I hope that our car makes it safely through the first turn and that we cut a good figure."
Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Audi Motorsport Director):
"We were the ones who least came to grips with the track today and will consider how we can do better in the race. It was a shame that Mattias Ekström had a damaged tyre at the crucial moment. I'm pleased about Tom Kristensen's good performance."