Gary Paffett (C-Class AMG-Mercedes) and Jean Alesi (AMG-Mercedes) will start Sunday's DTM invitational race at Shanghai, China from the first row on the grid. In Saturday's single-lap qualifying, Paffett took his first DTM pole position with a 1:14.529.
Jean Alesi was second fastest with 24 thousandths of a second behind pole while Tom Kristensen's Audi A4 DTM followed in third place with another four thousandths behind Alesi.
Bernd Schneider (Vodafone AMG-Mercedes) qualified sixth fastest with a 1:15.211 whilst Christijan Albers (DaimlerChrysler Bank AMG-Mercedes) made a mistake under braking at the last corner, lost valuable lap time and ended up tenth with a 1:16.595.
Prior to the single-lap qualifying, all drivers participated in the qualifying to determine the ten fastest who later fought for Super Pole with one fast lap for each. The single-lap qualifying starts with the tenth fastest driver of qualifying, the quickest is the last on the track.
Gary Paffett was fastest in qualifying with a 1:14.137 ahead of Bernd Schneider who set a time of 1:14.433. Jean Alesi ended up fourth fastest with 1:14.692. In the morning's first Free Practice Christijan Albers spun and hit the wall. In qualifying he finished sixth with a 1:14.731. Jarek Janis (Sonax Dark Dog AMG-Mercedes) was the fastest driver with a 2003 AMG-Mercedes CLK with a time of 1:15.465 and finished twelfth.
The DTM is the first international motor sport series to hold a race at Shanghai, China. The city is said to be the shop window for China's economic power, and for the Western industries, it's the gateway to Asia's increasing market. On 3 May, DaimlerChrysler AG signed a contract with China to start the production of Mercedes-Benz E- and C-Class cars in 2005.
Gary Paffett (C-Klasse AMG-Mercedes) pole position:
"A very good lap but not a perfect one. I'm very happy about my first DTM pole position. My team provided me with a fantastic car and it is great fun to drive on this circuit which had more and more grip the longer we ran here today. A great job by the organisers and a big thank you to them, we all are honoured to start the first race in the streets of a world metropolis like Shanghai."
Jean Alesi (AMG-Mercedes), second:
"A splendid organisation. It's fantastic what they have arranged. The track is challenging and fun to drive. My team gave me a fantastic car and I'm happy about my front row position. A podium finish should be possible tomorrow."
Bernd Schneider (Vodafone AMG-Mercedes), sixth:
"In qualifying everything was fine, however, the single-lap qualifying was not as good as I had expected. I'm disappointed about my sixth place on the grid, but we still have two interesting races ahead of us."
Christijan Albers (DaimlerChrysler Bank AMG-Mercedes), tenth:
"Probably I was a bit too slow on my out lap, so my tyres didn't reach their optimum grip level. At the last corner I made a mistake under braking. I ran wide, lost a lot of time and was lucky not to hit the wall, and that was it."
Jarek Janis (Sonax Dark Dog AMG-Mercedes), 12th:
"I was close to qualify for the Top Ten and the single-lap qualifying, however, I'm happy to be the fastest driver in a last year's car."
Markus Winkelhock (Original-Teile AMG-Mercedes), 13th:
"My car handled well and I managed to set a good time early on. Perhaps I could have been quicker, but on my last run, I ran wide at the righthander after the hairpin and came on the dirty part of the track which cost me valuable time, which is a shame, because Top Ten was basically possible. I am looking forward to two great races."
Bernd Mayländer (CLK AMG-Mercedes), 16th:
"We suffered from some set-up problems in the morning, therefore I'm still quite satisfied with my result. The car still has some potential which we hopefully will show in the race."
Stefan Mücke (CLK AMG-Mercedes), 19th:
"In this morning's first practice I hit the wall with my left front. Therefore I lost track time which could have helped me to be faster on this circuit. Thanks to my team that repaired the car so I was able to drive again in qualifying."
Norbert Haug, Vice President Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:
"A very special qualifying on a new track. Congratulations to Gary and Jean. They performed excellently and they are very close together, separated by 0.024sec. The margin to the Audi of Tom Kristensen is also very small with four thousandths of a second behind which shows how competitive the DTM is."
"The task today was not to hit the wall which Christijan Albers unfortunately did in the first practice so he had a handicap by losing valuable track time which would have helped him with a better set-up. A compliment to the organisers of this event. They have created an interesting and challenging circuit."
"All Mercedes-Benz teams are thrilled to have been invited to this prestigious event in the centre of the city of Shanghai. The Petronas Shanghai DTM Festival is probably the most important race in DTM history -- a unique event that certainly all of the 20 participants would love to win."