DTM

Paffett heads Mercedes trio for Lausitz pole

Paffett heads Mercedes trio for Lausitz pole

Mercedes proved to be strong again at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz and locked out the top three positions in the super pole qualifying. Gary Paffett took pole position comfortably two tenths ahead of Jamie Green, and DTM rookie Mika Hakkinen was...

Mercedes proved to be strong again at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz and locked out the top three positions in the super pole qualifying. Gary Paffett took pole position comfortably two tenths ahead of Jamie Green, and DTM rookie Mika Hakkinen was vastly improved from the first race with third on the grid.

Gary Paffett.
Photo by ITR e.V..

Lausitz is a circuit thought to be more suited to Audi and the manufacturer was on the pace in Friday's practice sessions. However, come qualifying it was a slightly different story. Mattias Ekstr?m was on provisional pole -- by just seven thousandths from Hakkinen -- after the first session but could only manage fourth in the super pole.

He, Tom Kristensen and Martin Tomczyk were the three Audis to make the individually timed laps. Also in the top ten was the Mercedes of Bernd Schneider, along with the manufacturer's two 2004 spec chassis of Bruno Spengler and Stefan M?cke -- another good effort from the boys in the year-old cars.

Marcel F?ssler was the only Opel to make the top ten, as he did in Hockenheim. Manuel Reuter and Heinz-Harald Frentzen were mid-field and Laurent Aiello right at the back. Jean Alesi's Mercedes missed the super pole by a hundredth in 11th, while the three Audis behind the Frenchman were all very close.

Tomczyk was first out in the super pole and clocked 1:16.596 and F?ssler was a fractionally faster. Kristensen was a tenth up on the Opel but M?cke lost out from his seventh in first qualifying to end up 10th. Green had a very good lap to take provisional pole with a 1:16.015 on his individual flyer.

Spengler's lap was good enough for sixth and Schneider went one better for fifth. Paffett had a very tidy trip round the circuit to clock 1:15.808, two tenths up on Green. Hakkinen was a tenth behind Green for third and Ekstr?m over for tenths down on Paffett for fourth.

"I had to push as hard as I could, but it paid off," said Paffett. "I'm really happy about my second DTM pole position and I felt very comfortable in the car which allowed me to attack consistently. Although I didn't have a single best time in any sector I achieved pole position."

Mercedes looked very good indeed and Audi not as fast as expected, which is a little surprising. As the winning manufacturer at Hockenheim, all the 2005 spec Mercedes' are running 10 kg heavier this weekend, while Audi, as the second placed manufacturer, stays the same. 10 kg is not a huge difference but one would have thought Audi would be closer.

"Our cars had a very good set-up and the ballast weight did not play an important role here," said Mercedes motorsport director Norbert Haug. "The ten kilograms have an effect of a little more than one tenth of a second per lap."

Opel, which was third overall at Hockenheim, is 10 kg lighter at Lausitz but the team is obviously struggling. F?ssler did a good job to make the super pole but the other three were poor. Mercedes looks good for the podium tomorrow but strange things have been know to happen in the DTM.

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Series DTM
Drivers Heinz-Harald Frentzen , Jean Alesi , Mika Hakkinen , Tom Kristensen , Laurent Aiello , Martin Tomczyk , Manuel Reuter , Norbert Haug , Gary Paffett , Jamie Green