High motivation for season final: an open fight, Reuter set for vice-
champion, Ludwig and Fassler fight for third place
By Harald Bloche - Motorsport.com
In Hochenheim, the same venue where the first chapter of the new DTM was written on May 28 with the opening round, the season final will be taking place from October 27 to 29. But now, the action is on the ultra- fast 6.8 km long Grand Prix track, ans this lay-out has made for many surprising races! Prior to the event, the organizers have already sold 33,000 entry tickets.
Opel sport director Volker Strycek: "Now that the championship has been decided and strategy and tactics don't count anymore, we will be having an exciting and action-packed final, because every manufacturer and every driver will be pushing at the maximum once more." Bernd Schneider (D2 AMG Mercedes) already wrapped up the title at the Nurburgring, October 8. Manuel Reuter (Opel Team Phoenix) will almost certainly become the new vice-champion. Klaus Ludwig and Marcel Fassler (both Warsteiner AMG Mercedes) and, albeit only with a very small chance, local hero Joachin Winkelhock with the Holzer Team's Opel V8 Coupe are fighting for third place.
The Grand Prix track is is very demanding when it comes down to setting up the car. "In order to being fast on the straight, you have to opt for very little downforce", says Schneider. "That means, however, that the cars are difficult to drive in the twisty Motodrom. Finding a reasonable set-up together with the race-engineer is therefore far from easy."
During the DTM-tests mid-October, especially Opel were strong: on two occasions, Reuter was first from Uwe Alzen (Opel Team Holzer), once Alzen was first from Michael Bartels (Opel Team Phoenix) - that was the order of the three days, followed by Marcel Fassler (Warsteiner AMG Mercedes) on the first day and by Schneider on the third. On the second day, Mercedes' testing programme was interrupted by an accident of youngster Thomas Jager. Under braking for the first chicane, Jager had hit a wet spot at high speed and had come off the track, but fortunately escaped unscathed. "the car will be top again before the race", AMG Mercedes team manager Jurgen Mattheis assures. "We have acquired a lot of information, but because of changing weather conditions, they may be only of limited use for the actual race", says Opel's technical director Donatus Wichelhaus.
"We will be pushing until the chequered flag drops", Christian Abt promises. The Bavarian Abt-team scored championship points in the two previous rounds - and the track lay-out could suit the yellow Abt-Audi TT-R, because it is among the quickest cars on the grid when top speed is considered. "Maybe", DTM-star Klaus Ludwig oracled, "Larent Aiello in the Abt-Audi will win in Hockenheim."