Laurent Aiello scores the first victory for Abt-Audi from champion Bernd Schnei der, Timo Scheider takes first point for Opel
Nurburgring. French driver Laurent Aiello has sensationally won the second race of the DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) at the Nurburgring with his Abt-Audi T T-R. The Le Mans-winner from the Team Abt Sportsline started the race on pole po sition and outpaced reigning champion Bernd Schneider and Thomas Jager, both dri ving a Mercedes-Benz CLK-DTM. They finished second and third respectively. Timo Scheider was the best Opel-driver with his Opel Astra V8 Coupe, he finished tent h. Furthermore, the Opel Team Holzer once more performed the quickest tyre chang e on Timo Scheider's car, he stood in the pits for only 6.74 seconds.
Aiello's team colleagues Martin Tomczyk, with his 19 years the youngest-ever DT M-driver, and Mattias Ekstrom completed an excellent result for Team Abt Sports line, finishing fourth and ninth respectively. "I am really impressed", said te am boss Hans-Jurgen Abt after a shower with winners' champagne. "We have strugg led a lot last year and this is the reward. Tonight, we will be having a real p arty, I hope, our hospitality tent will still be there afterwards." Winner Aiel lo was especially proud: "It was a really hard and difficult race. At the end, I had to fight hard to keep Bernd Schneider at a distance. This success really feels good after so much work. It has to be seen on other tracks if we are now already competing for the title. Bernd and Mercedes are very strong."
"We and all the fans have seen the best of touring car racing today", said Merc edes motorsport director Norbert Haug, also congratulating the Team Abt Sportsl ine: "I raise my hat for this great performance. Especially Tomczyk in the seco nd race of his career, and even with the fastest lap, really has impressed me. The guy has a lot of potential." Audi's success has been good for the series, a s "it has added some colour". Opel motorsport director Volker Strycek was also satisfied after the race. "Today, we were able for the first time to keep up wi th the lap times of the front runners. For five laps, Michael Bartels has shown that the Opel-engine has a lot of power. His fastest lap was only two tenths o f a second slower than Aiello's fastest lap. And Timo Scheider has scored the f irst point for us in this year's DTM. This great race of today was a fine promo tion for touring car racing."
In the qualifying race before the main race, there was some turbulent action ri ght away: as light rain set in, it made some parts of the track very slippery. Many drivers, including Schneider, fellow Mercedes-driver Fassler and Opel-driv er Joachim Winkelhock spun off the track. The worst off had vice-champion Manue l Reuter in his Opel Astra V8 Coupe: "It was like water-skiing. I was just doin g 200 km/h in fifth gear, as I went off and hit the barriers. Fortunately, noth ing happened to me. I have risked too much." Meanwhile, there were a lot of clo se fights in the midfield, especially among the Mercedes-drivers. Aiello and To mczyk confirm their first places on the grid in an action-packed and highly int eresting qualifying race.
1. Laurent Aiello (Audi), 36:52.833 min 2. Bernd Schneider (Mercedes) 1.517 sec behind 3. Thomas Jager (Mercedes) 4.741 4. Martin Tomczyk (Audi) 5.248 5. Marcel Fassler (Mercedes) 5.630 6. Pedro Lamy (Mercedes) 15.265 7. Patrick Huisman (Mercedes) 18.354 8. Peter Dumbreck (Mercedes) 18.712 9. Mattias Ekstrom (Audi) 20.461 10. Timo Scheider (Opel) 22.120
Championship points after two of 10 races:
1. Bernd Schneider 38 points, 2. Laurent Aiello 27, 3. Marcel Fassler 23, 4. Th omas Jager 21, 5. Peter Dumbreck 18, 6. Martin Tomczyk 12, 7. Pedro Lamy 12, 8. Uwe Alzen 10, 9. Patrick Huisman 4, 10. Darren Turner 3