Mercedes-Victories at the Sachsenring:
DTM-Champion Ludwig Triumphs - Opel with Tyre Failure
By Harald Bloche - Motosport.com
In a domonant way, threefold DTM-champion Klaus Ludwig won both races at the fourth round of the DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) at the Sachsen- ring near Chemnitz. Starting from pole position, the 50-year-old won the seventh and eighth race of the DTM in his Mercedes-Benz CLK (Team War- steiner AMG Mercedes), each tim one car length clear of his young Scottish fellow Mercedes-driver Peter Dumbreck (Original Teile AMG Mercedes). Bernd Schneider (D2 AMG Mercedes) completed the succes for the manufacturer from Stuttgart with two third places and extended his championship lead to 106 points. "These two victories in the new DTM really mean a lot to me", said the visibly moved Ludwig. "However my car was sensationally good."
The Sachsenring twisty lay-out, combined with the surface that is knowm to be very hard on the tyres, clearly had its effect: Ludwig had almost missed put on his victory in the first race because a tyre blew in the cooling- down lap. It struck the Opel-squad even more: four Opel V8 Coupes retired because of tyre failure.
Double winner of Oschersleben, Manuel Reuter (Opel Team Phoenix), really had bad luck. The German, only three points down on Schneider before the Sachsenring round, now faces a bigger gap on the points leader. Reuter's retirement was full of drama: placed third in the final lap, a tyre failure made him come off the track with only 300 m to go and he crashed into the barriers. "I was driving in sixth gear at about 240 km/h", he said. "Therefore, I am happy that nothing more happened." Reuter had to start the second race from the pitlane, kept the pace of the front runners, but did not score any points, finishing in eleventh place. Eric Helary (Team Opel Holzer) suffered from a similar fate in the second race: third place, tyre failure, out.
Opel Motorsport director Volker Strycek concluded: "The negative result does not really show the real performance of our cars, as the Mercedes and the Opels were closely matched both, in practice and in race. Together with our partner Dunlop, we will try to analyse the reason for the tyre failures. It is a severe setback, but anyone who knows Opel, knows also that we never give up. There are still ten races to go, anything can happen." On August 20 already, the DTM starts into its fifth round at the Nurburgring.
Mercedes Motorsport director Norbert Haug: "As a team, our drivers have been driving a great race. They also have shown, that the cars of all Mercedes- teams are at the same level. Without Opel's tyre failures, it hardly would have been such a success."