DTM

Scheider on pole in Zandvoort qualifying shake-up

Scheider on pole in Zandvoort qualifying shake-up

Opel's Timo Scheider took his maiden pole position in round nine of the DTM championship at Zandvoort, in what was a surprise shake-up in qualifying. Opel had been looking strong through practices and Team Holzer's Alain Menu was provisional pole...

Opel's Timo Scheider took his maiden pole position in round nine of the DTM championship at Zandvoort, in what was a surprise shake-up in qualifying. Opel had been looking strong through practices and Team Holzer's Alain Menu was provisional pole sitter at the end of first qualifying. Scheider snatched pole by nine thousands of a second for Team Phoenix on his flyer in the super-pole and there he stayed, his first pole and Opel's first of the season.

Timo Scheider.
Photo by Opel Performance Media.
Meanwhile, the other surprise was standings leader Bernd Schneider, reigning champion Laurent Aiello and Donington winner Jean Alesi all missing the super-pole shootout.

The first qualifying session was briefly red-flagged early on when Peter Terting's Audi was stranded in the gravel after he spun off backwards. Mattias Ekstr?m was initially the man to beat and local lad Jeroen Bleekemolen was next up with a 1:35.810 for Opel Euroteam. Scheider had a turn on provisional pole, as did Audi's Martin Tomczyk.

Menu set his pole of 1:35.231 about half way through the first session while Mercedes struggled slightly. Young guns Christijan Albers, Express Service, and Marcel F?ssler, AMG Mercedes, had reasonably comfortable runs to make the super pole in sixth and seventh respectively.

Schneider was on a decent looking flyer when he went wide into the gravel and consequently dived in the pits. He tried again but could only manage thirteenth, one ahead of Aiello. Alesi was the best Mercedes outside the top ten in eleventh. Ekstr?m and Christian Abt were the only two Audis to make the top ten.

Bleekemolen was out first in the super-pole and set a relatively slow 1:36.695, followed by fellow Opel driver Peter Dumbreck, who took over with a 1:36.311. Abt was quick in the first sector but lost out at the end and F?ssler was the first of the front runners to set the pace. 1:35.681 for the Swiss put him on provisional pole by sixth tenths of a second.

After that, the times got quicker by the narrowest of margins. Albers followed F?ssler and clocked 1:35.345, three tenths better, then Scheider's 1:35.336 was just nine thousandths ahead of the Dutchman. But it was enough -- Opel Holzer's Manuel Reuter was fourth on his run and Ekstr?m third, 0.018 down on Scheider.

Tomczyk came closest to spoiling Opel's pole position, five thousandths shy of the mark and Menu finished fifth. There was less than five tenths between the top seven. Final order was Scheider, Tomczyk, Albers, Ekstr?m, Menu, F?ssler, Reuter, Dumbreck, Bleekemolen, Abt. An excellent result for Scheider, who's only made the super-pole session twice before.

"Being on pole position with Opel is a great feeling," said the 24 year old German. "Manuel Reuter was the last driver to do so at Donington in 2002. We have been working hard for it and we have never given up. In testing yesterday, we have seen already that our entire team is strong and that our Astra Coup? is better than ever before. I want to thank my Phoenix-team, they have been doing a great job."

This qualifying makes things interesting for the championship: leader Schneider is ten grid places behind second placed Albers, qualifying thirteenth and third respectively. Schneider could win the title here at Zandvoort but he would need to win the race and have Albers finish lower than fifth. Seems unlikely doesn't it?

F?ssler, currently third in the championship, is sixth on the grid, three places behind Albers, so has every chance to close the gap between himself and the top two in the standings. It promises to be a thrilling race.

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