DTM

Nurburgring: Round six preview

6th DTM race, Nuerburgring (GER), July 30 - August 1, 2004 Ekström throws down the gauntlet to Albers in the second half It's full steam ahead into the second half of the 2004 DTM season. The sixth race of the championship will be staged this...

6th DTM race, Nuerburgring (GER), July 30 - August 1, 2004
Ekström throws down the gauntlet to Albers in the second half

It's full steam ahead into the second half of the 2004 DTM season. The sixth race of the championship will be staged this coming weekend (July 30-August 1) on the 3.629 kilometre-long short track layout of the Nuerburgring. The battle for the DTM title will be coming to a head in front of an expected sell-out crowd in the stands.

Mercedes-Benz driver Christijan Albers (42 points) is in the lead, just three points ahead of his fiercest rival Mattias Ekström (39 points) in an Audi A4 DTM. Swede Ekström holds the DTM circuit record in the Eifel since 2002 with a time of 1:25.624 minutes and is bent on capturing the lead in the overall standings with a win on Sunday.

The pursuers have also not yet written off the fight over top position. Above all Briton Gary Paffett (Mercedes-Benz, 25 points), fresh from victory at the exhibition race in Shanghai, as well as his team mate Bernd Schneider (16 points). Martin Tomczyk (Audi, 15 points), six times winner of the 24-hour Le Mans race Tom Kristensen (Audi, 13 points) and Mercedes-Benz driver Jean Alesi (12 points) are all scrambling for vital points.

The Opel trio consisting of Laurent Aiello (9 points), the defending winner on the Nuerburgring, Timo Scheider (8 points) and Peter Dumbreck (5 points) is also looking forward to the Eifel classic - after all, the Opel factory in Ruesselsheim is only 150 kilometres away from the Ring. Scheider, who made the super pole in every race in the first half but was unfortunate to twice miss out on a podium place, has just as big plans for the second half of the season as his team mate Heinz-Harald Frentzen.

The 21 drivers notch up a total of 148,789 kilometres in 41 laps on the Grand Prix sprint track. The circuit is a combination between fast sections and long-drawn out turns as well as hairpin bends. The drivers come up against six right and four left turns.

Christijan Albers (25, AMG-Mercedes C-class, overall leader):

"I like the Nuerburgring because here you've got three good possibilities for overtaking. At the entry to the Mercedes Arena, in the hairpin bend going onto the short-track layout and before the chicane. I've got to make sure that I arrive at the finish before Mattias Ekström in order to extend my marginal lead of three points."

Mattias Ekström (26, Audi A4 DTM, second overall):

"I'm going to the Eifel with great expectations. Last year, we were fast there from the onset. Even though we'll now be driving with the Audi A4 DTM - the Nuerburgring was and remains an Audi circuit. On the Norisring there were to my taste clearly too many Mercedes lads at the front - now I want revenge."

Bernd Schneider (40, AMG-Mercedes C-class, fourth overall):

"The Nuerburgring is together with the Hockenheimring one of my home races and each year loads of Saarland fans always come to the Eifel. Following my second place in Shanghai I'm optimistic that I can drive home a good result and significantly improve my points tally."

Martin Tomczyk (22, Audi A4 DTM, fifth overall):

"The Nuerburgring is my favourite circuit on the DTM calendar. It's simply the one I best come to grips with and where I was always fast and amongst the top in the past few years."

Laurent Aiello (35, Opel Vectra GTS V8, eighth overall):

"I always made the podium on the Nuerburgring in the past three years and have celebrated a few victories in the Eifel. I'll do my utmost to ensure that this streak continues this year too."

Timo Scheider (25, Opel Vectra GTS V8, ninth overall):

"Although I'm now living in Austria, the Nuerburgring continues to be my home circuit. Every time when I drive there it feels like coming home. What's also nice on the Nuerburgring is that my fan club will again be along the circuit in full force. The course should suit us. And to be honest: I think it's about time for a first podium finish."

Dr Wolfgang Ullrich, Audi Motorsport Director:

"We want to ensure on the Nuerburgring that we remain at the top in the battle for the title. Of course it would be good if Mattias managed to recapture the lead from Christijan Albers. The chances are good as the Nuerburgring certainly suits our A4 DTM better than, for example, the Norisring."

Norbert Haug, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Director:

"The DTM race on the Nuerburgring has developed well. All available seats on the shortened Grand Prix track will be occupied by 40,000 spectators and the organiser will be able to utter his favourite word: "sold out". We're preparing for a tough and thrilling race, where certainly more than a half dozen drivers will be in with a chance for victory."

Volker Strycek Opel Motorsport Director:

"We're looking forward to the Nuerburgring as it's a fascinating race track that should suit our car significantly better than the last one on the Norisring. The numerous Opel fans will transform the Ring into an especially for us very emotional race track. We will be so well prepared for the start in the Eifel that we can set our sights on a podium finish. The advance ticket sales numbers offer added motivation."

-dtm-

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Series DTM
Drivers Heinz-Harald Frentzen , Jean Alesi , Tom Kristensen , Laurent Aiello , Peter Dumbreck , Martin Tomczyk , Bernd Schneider , Christijan Albers , Timo Scheider , Norbert Haug , Mattias Ekström , Volker Strycek , Gary Paffett