Champion Schneider wins sensational race starting from 20th position on the grid - Nissen has huge shunt and walks away - Opel looks forward to the Norisring
Sachsenring. Bernd Schneider in his Mercedes-Benz CLK-DTM has made the impossible come true: After the DTM Champion from 2000 had finished qualifying in a lonely 20th position, due to rain, Schneider fought his way through the grid during the qualification race to finish fourth continued his fight up the ranking in the main race to finish first. Positions second and third in the fourth DTM (German Touring Car Masters) race of the season were taken by Schneiders Dutch colleagues Christijan Albers and Patrick Huisman. The Dane Kris Nissen, in his Abt-Audi TT-R, walked away from a heavy accident during the start phase of the main race.
"Half of this win belongs to my team, they planned a great race strategy and set up the car was perfect for these conditions," said Schneider. Due to a heavy crash which involved amongst others Nissen and Opel driver Peter Mamerow, the Safety Car was sent out onto the track for four laps. Schneider's HWA team realised the chance and brought in the 36 year old for his compulsory pit stop. Other drivers took the opportunity and also pitted, Dumbreck who was leading stayed out along with second and third placed drivers Mattias Ekstrom and Christian Abt. Ekstrom finishing in fifth position in his Abt-Audi TT-R, team mate Abt 9th and Mercedes driver Dumbreck sixth.
Team Abt Sportsline where very happy that Nissen was unhurt in his accident. Teamboss Hans-Jurgen Abt: "Kris is okay. What we saw today was proof that the safety concept of the DTM works. We will have the car ready for the next race at the Norisring." The reason why the team did not call in their drivers during the Safety car phase, was according to Abt to eliminate any tire problems later on in the race. "Our strategy was to change the tires in the middle of the race, due the ups and down of this circuit, we didn't want to put the tires under any extra pressure. We could see how the circuit effects the tires on Martin Tomczyk and Manuel Reuters car, (both suffered tire damage). If the Safety car had not been forced to come out, we would have had a better result, we were after all the quickest." Christian Abt the brother of the Teamboss, set the fastest lap of 1:21.402. Hans-Jurgen Abt: "I am happy that three of our drivers finished in the Top ten."
Disappointed but not unhappy was Opel Motorsport boss Volker Strycek: "The weekend result was disappointing but the weekend has shown that things are getting better. If Michael Bartels had not been spun at the first corner and the Opel Astra V8 Coup of Manuel Reuter had not suffered a tire failure sh ortly before the end of the race, we would have seen the improvements we have made in the end results." Strycek: "The performance is there but unfortunately there are drivers on the grid who don't drive fairly. We will take four heavily damaged cars home with us. At least we know after this weekend that we have reduced the gap between us and the front of the grid. We are looking forward to the Norisring." Opel driver Joachim Winkelhock, won the first race last year at the Norisring.
Mercedes Motorsport boss Norbert Haug, again stressed that Bernd Schneider is the bench mark for all the drivers in the DTM. "Bernd did a fantastic job and one of the best drives I have ever seen in Touring car racing. He and his team were able to find the perfect set up for the race. The spectators saw a great qualification race."
1. Bernd Schneider (Mercedes) 42:30.866 min 2. Christijan Albers (Mercedes) 27.920 sec behind 3. Patrick Huisman (Mercedes) 33.827 4. Marcel Tiemann (Mercedes) 34.489 5. Mattias Ekstrom (Abt-Audi) 35.774 6. Peter Dumbreck (Mercedes) 36.166 7. Martin Tomczyk (Abt-Audi) 37.951 8. Marcel Fassler (Mercedes) 38.33 9. Christian Abt (Abt-Audi) 46.022 10. Michael Bartels (Opel) 48.363
Overall standings: 1. Bernd Schneider (Mercedes) 74 Points 2. Marcel Fassler (Mercedes) 49 3. Laurent Aiello (Abt-Audi) 37 Peter Dumbreck (Mercedes) 37 5. Thomas Jager (Mercedes) 22 Uwe Alzen (Mercedes) 22 7. Patrick Huisman (Mercedes) 18 8. Martin Tomczyk (Abt-Audi) 16 Mattias Ekstrom (Abt-Audi) 16 10. Christijan Albers (Mercedes) 15