DTM

Zandvoort: Mercedes preview

SSK: Schneider, Spengler, Kristensen? The fight for the 2006 DTM championship title with four races in eight weeks - from Zandvoort on 3 September until the final at Hockenheim on 29 October - is also a battle between generations. Winning the...

SSK: Schneider, Spengler, Kristensen?

The fight for the 2006 DTM championship title with four races in eight weeks - from Zandvoort on 3 September until the final at Hockenheim on 29 October - is also a battle between generations. Winning the last two races, Bruno Spengler (DaimlerChrysler Bank AMG-Mercedes) who turned 23 last Wednesday, interferes in the duel between 42-year old Bernd Schneider (Vodafone AMG-Mercedes) and 39-year old Tom Kristensen (Audi).

Prior to the race at Zandvoort this coming weekend Schneider is the overall leader with 46 points ahead of Spengler (34) and Kristensen (34).

A comparison: Bernd Schneider, who is 42 today, was 27 years and 50 days old, when he drove his first DTM race for Mercedes-Benz. Bruno Spengler was 21 years and 237 days old at the time of his first DTM start in the championship. Schneider, who completed nine DTM races for Ford in 1987 and 1988, was 27 years and 295 days old when he won his first DTM race; it was his 15th start for Mercedes and his 24th overall. Spengler achieved his first DTM victory at the age of 22 years and 334 days and is the third youngest winner in DTM history.

1995, Dario Franchitti won for the first time at the age of 22 years and two days; in the same year, Jan Magnussen was 22 years and 33 days old when he clinched his first win at Estoril. Both have been Mercedes Juniors at that time and this shows that Mercedes-Benz has a tradition of young winners.

Both drivers scored their first DTM points with a sixth place; Schneider in his DTM debut at Hockenheim in 1987 when he was 22 years and 252 days old; Spengler at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz in 2005, which was his ninth DTM race. Schneider finished sixth also in his Mercedes-Benz debut in the championship -- in the second heat of 1991 Touring Car Grand Prix at the Nürburgring.

Spengler clinched his first DTM pole position in his 17th race for Mercedes-Benz; Schneider took his first DTM pole in his 18th race. With Mercedes-Benz, Bernd Schneider became record winner and record champion of the DTM. In 206 races in the DTM and ITC, he won 41 races and five championship titles: 1995 in both the DTM and ITC, 2000, 2001 und 2003 in the DTM.

The circuit: The Zandvoort racetrack is located close to the North Sea shores. If it is windy, sand makes the surface slippery and causes changeable conditions. Mercedes-Benz drivers Uwe Alzen (2001), Christijan Albers (2003) and Gary Paffett (2005) won three of the five DTM races at Zandvoort so far.

The new weight distribution: 2006 AMG-Mercedes C-Class (Schneider, Green, Häkkinen, Spengler): 1,080 kilograms; 2006 Audi A4 DTM: 1,060 kilograms; 2005 AMG-Mercedes C-Class of Jean Alesi, Daniel la Rosa, Alexandros Margaritis, Stefan Mücke: 1,060 kilograms; 2004 cars like the AMG-Mercedes C-Class of Mathias Lauda and Susie Stoddart: 1,020 kilograms.

Comments from the Mercedes drivers, in the order of the result from the Nürburgring race:

Bruno Spengler, start number 9 (DaimlerChrysler Bank AMG-Mercedes C-Class, winner): "The circuit in the dunes of Zandvoort is a technical track and demanding for the drivers. Overtaking is difficult here; therefore qualifying plays an even more important role than usual. I want to qualify as high up as possible on Saturday and to maintain my second place overall on Sunday, and I hope to close the gap behind Bernd."

Bernd Schneider, start number 2 (Vodafone AMG-Mercedes C-Class, second): "I look forward to the race at Zandvoort; however, with the increased extra weight it will be difficult to stand our ground against the Audis. I like the circuit and provided the weather is OK, we will experience an exciting race. My aim is to extend my overall lead in the championship."

Jean Alesi, start number 10 (stern AMG-Mercedes C-Class, fourth): "In four races at Zandvoort I scored points only once, and this has been already three years ago. I will give it my all already in qualifying to achieve the basis for a better result this year. It would be great to have another race like Nürburgring."

Jamie Green, start number 3 (Salzgitter AMG-Mercedes C-Class, ninth): "I look forward to Zandvoort. Last year I had a good speed here; however, my poor start prevented a good result. This time I want to end up on the podium."

Stefan Mücke, start number 17 (TV Spielfilm AMG-Mercedes C-Class, 11th): "After my good qualifying result at the Nürburgring I'm quite optimistic for Zandvoort. If I have a race without incidents I should be able to score some points."

Mika Häkkinen, start number 8 (AMG-Mercedes C-Class, 12th): "The faulty wiper and problems during the pitstop prevented a better result for me in the last race. However, I do not give up, the entire team is working both professionally and hard, and together we want to achieve the maximum in Zandvoort. The target is to be back on the podium. The track is sometimes covered by sand which affects the grip of the car but inevitably makes the races very interesting there."

Mathias Lauda, start number 21 (Second Hand AMG-Mercedes C-Class, 13th): "I don't know the track; however, I've been told it will be difficult for the 2004 cars because of the many medium fast corners. Anyway I want to be the best in this category and maybe I'll be able to beat some of the 2005 cars."

Alexandros Margaritis, start number 11 (EasyRent AMG-Mercedes C-Class, 15th): "Following the messy weekend at the Nürburgring I'm happy to return to racing after only a short time. My target for Zandvoort is to score points, after two zeros in a row."

Daniel la Rosa, start number 18 (TrekStor AMG-Mercedes C-Class, 16th): "I know Zandvoort since the Formula 3 Euro Series and I like the track. The atmosphere is great and I look forward to the race. I want to end up among the top-ten."

Susie Stoddart, start number 22 (AutoScout24 AMG-Mercedes C-Class, retired due to a failure of the ECU): "I don't know Zandvoort, but meanwhile I'm used to racing on new circuits. I want to perform well and forget the retirement at the Nürburgring."

Norbert Haug, Vice President Mercedes-Benz Motorsport: "This will be the fifth time Zandvoort plays host to the DTM and the meeting has become a classic on the calendar with the grandstands sold out here at last year's event. Finding the right set-up at the circuit is really demanding and it's everything but a walk in the park for the drivers."

"The audience here is great and they love the DTM touring cars and their drivers. The track's location and surrounding is unique, or have you ever seen racing so close to the sea anywhere else? The circuit is tricky also because of the wind, which we experience here most of the time, and which blows sand on the track varying the grip conditions abruptly. Traditionally Audi has been strong at Zandvoort and I'm sure there will be an exciting fight on the circuit in the dunes."

-credit: mercedes

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Series DTM
Drivers Jean Alesi , Mika Hakkinen , Tom Kristensen , Jan Magnussen , Dario Franchitti , Bernd Schneider , Uwe Alzen , Christijan Albers , Norbert Haug , Bruno Spengler , Gary Paffett , Alexandros Margaritis , Mathias Lauda , Stefan Mücke , Daniel la Rosa , Jamie Green