DTM

Sachsenring: Qualifying report

Laurent Aiello just ahead of Alain Menu after qualifying thriller Sheer drama, and a result that promises an exciting race: just before flagfall in the 45 minutes qualifying session at the Sachsenring, Laurent Aiello with the Abt-Audi TT-R...

Laurent Aiello just ahead of Alain Menu after qualifying thriller

Sheer drama, and a result that promises an exciting race: just before flagfall in the 45 minutes qualifying session at the Sachsenring, Laurent Aiello with the Abt-Audi TT-R claimed pole-position from erstwhile leader Alain Menu (Opel Astra V8 Coupé) by only 0.019 seconds.

Reigning champion Bernd Schneider drove his Mercedes-Benz CLK-DTM all-out to third place. The record at the end of the session: the three makes in the DTM on the first three places, all five Abt-Audi-drivers and four of the six Opel-drivers in the top ten, the first fifteen drivers within one second and five different nationalities in the top five. For the 35 km qualification race on Sunday the DTM-points leader will be starting from pole-position: after three of ten rounds, Frenchman Laurent Aiello is in the lead of the drivers' standings with 25 points from Jean Alesi (Mercedes-Benz, 17) and Mattias Ekström (Abt-Audi, 16).

"I feel sorry for Alain, but I am happy for myself," said the fastest qualifier. "The track is quite tricky as far as the set-up of the car is concerned. As soon as the sun came out from behind the clouds and it got a little warmer, it started getting more slippery. We had quite a lot of pressure on our shoulders." The Frenchman, who has already won two rounds this season (Hockenheimring and Circuit Zolder), set a clear goal for the race. "For me, it is especially important to score some points again here after my nightmare-race in Donington. Of course, a victory would be very nice."

Second fastest of the team was former F1-driver Karl Wendlinger (A) in fifth place from Abt-junior Martin Tomczyk. Team principal Hans-Jürgen Abt praised his lead driver: "When everything is all right for Laurent, he has the special ability to get the very last bit out of the car."

Opel motorsport boss Volker Strycek was satisfied as well.

"Especially the Euroteam has done a tremendous job. Alain has missed out on pole position with the smallest possible margin and is on the first row. His team mate Yves Olivier was also on top at the start of the session and is now starting fourth; a good situation for the race."

Swiss Menu had most recently in Donington lost his certain second place because of bad luck in the race: he had to pit with only two laps to go because of a flat tyre, caused by debris on the track.

"I am very optimistic for the race, because with a little more luck than last time, I have very good chances to make it on the podium," said the two times British touring car champion. "At the end, I tried to match Aiello's time, but I was a little beyond the limit and lost control."

Third-placed Bernd Schneider commented: "When you analyse the sector times here, we are only missing two tenths of a second and we are working on finding these as well. At the beginning of the week, I tested in Hockenheim, which seems to have worked out." The three times DTM champion is excited about the 3.645 km long Sachsenring: "This is a real challenge for a driver, because in some fast corners, you really have to push and hold your breath. Therefore, I am really looking forward to the race."

-dtm-

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Series DTM
Drivers Jean Alesi , Karl Wendlinger , Laurent Aiello , Martin Tomczyk , Bernd Schneider , Mattias Ekström , Yves Olivier , Volker Strycek , Hans-Jurgen Abt , Alain Menu