Bernd Schneider was the man of the day at the Nurburgring, where race nine and ten of this year's DTM season took place. The DTM leader gained two victories and another 40 points which gave him a very satisfying lead in the championship. But Schneider wasn't as dominating, as the results might make believe. No, he had to fight hard to conquer those 40 points. Another happy man was Nicola Larini, who had to live through bitter bitter days in the past and returned to success with one second (race one) and one third place. The same results were scored by Zakspeed youngster Sandy Grau, who gained third place in race one and place two in the second one.
Race one: Bad luck for Dario Franchitti
Bernd Schneider took the lead right from the star, followed by team mate Dario Franchitti and Zakspeed's Kurt Thiim. But after six laps Dario attacked his "senior partner", took the lead and one lap later Thiim lost his third position to Nicola Larini. Those four kept their positions for many laps, while a lot of retirement was going on behind them. One Mercedes, two Opels and three Alfas had already disappeared in the pits when in lap 19 the leading quartett was destroyed by technical problems: At first it was Kurt Thiim who was struck by bad luck again. A fire in his engine bay destroyed all his hopes for a good placement and poor Kurt seemed to be really frustrated. "What is going on, he asked. "Why does this happen to me in nearly every race. Imagine, I've seen the chequered flag only twice this year. I can't believe it." Then, in lap twenty, it was Dario Franchitti, who had to give up. The young Scotsman, who had increased his lead lap by lap and looked like a certain winner, was stopped by a broken driveshaft. "What a mess", he murmured, but then he found back his fighting spirit: "No problem, now I'll go out in race two and I will attack as hard as possible. Even if this won't give me a podium placement I'll have a lot of fun this way."
So Bernd Schneider reconquered first position and kept it until the race was finished, scoring another 20 points. "I couldn't follow Dario, he was simply too fast", Schneider said later. "But in lap 19 I recognized him becoming slower and one lap later he retired. It was a great performance by Dario, but nevertheless I'm happy to be the winner."
Place two went to Nicola Larini who showed a great performance but wasn't quite happy nevertheless: "Okay, I'm satisfied to be back on the podium, but couldn't it have been a little bit more?"
Sandy Grau, the third, in contrast to Larini was really pleased by his result. "This was a fantastic race. But I burned my left foot at the drive shaft tunnel. Nevermind, a good one has to stand this." Than he smiled and prepared for race two, which should bring some more success in the career of young Sandy Grau.
Race two: What a battle
Again Schneider took the lead, but Larini, second man in the grid, was overtaken by Sandy Grau. And although those three kept positions until they saw the chequered flag, the race was everything else than boring. Caused by Sandy Grau, who gave it all and drove, as if he never had heard the word team strategy. Lap after lap he put a lot of pressure on Schneider and tried several times to overtake him. Twice he seemed to have passed the leader, but the AMG star used all his routine to answer Grau's attacks and succeeded in staying in front of him. Larini, the third, watched this battle with a lot of satisfaction, as the leading duo was slowed down by its battle and the Alfa driver could come nearer. But every time, he thought he was in touch, the two Mercedes stopped their fight for, did some very fast laps and put one or two seconds between them and the Alfa. And some laps before the finish Grau stopped attacking Schneider. "It wasn't worth while to risk everything," he said later. "I just had to wait for a mistake of Bernd, but - it's a pity - he didn't make one. Nevertheless I'm really satisfied by this weekend."
Just as Schneider was. "Still it's a long way to the title. You've seen, what can happen. Imagine, it would have rained on like it did one hour before the race was started. But this time luck was on my side, particularly concerning Dario."
Even Nicola Larini seemed to be quite satisfied altogether: "I drove all the two races at Top Qualifying speed. This was all I could do. Remember, I'm driving a car, which hasn't seen further developments since several weeks." Not to forget Kurt Thiim. The Dane, unhappiest man of race one, took up race two from 18th position of the grid, showed a marvellous performance and finished fourth.
Keke Rosberg: Success and retirement
For Keke Rosberg it was a day of split feelings. On the one hand he finished 4th in race one and was best Opel driver of the day, on the other hand he declared his retirement of racing. Rosberg: "It's never the right day for a decision like this, but I had to do it some time."
Manuel Reuter instead was really angry: "I had a perfect car and was able to do very fast laps. But I couldn't pass Uwe Alzen as his topspeed was higher on the straight. And he wasn't fair enough to give room when I already had passed him 75 percent."