DTM

Zandvoort: Mercedes race report

Christijan Albers wins home race - Bernd Schneider improved from 13th on the grid to second - One point margin between Schneider and Albers before the season’s final at Hockenheim on 5 October Christijan Albers (ExpressService...

Christijan Albers wins home race - Bernd Schneider improved from 13th on the grid to second - One point margin between Schneider and Albers before the season’s final at Hockenheim on 5 October

Christijan Albers (ExpressService AMG-Mercedes) won the ninth and penultimate round of the 2003 DTM at Zandvoort, Netherlands. Bernd Schneider charged through the field to improve from 13th on the grid to second at the chequered flag 5.3sec behind Albers. Prior to the season’s final at Hockenheim on 5 October, Schneider leads with only one point ahead of Albers. Marcel Fässler (AMG-Mercedes) who came home sixth today, is third overall. The title will be decided between Schneider and Albers at Hockenheim in two weeks. A crowd of 62,000 attended the Zandvoort event.

Albers had qualified third fastest and was the best Mercedes driver. At the start, he improved to second behind pole sitter Timo Scheider (Opel Astra V8 Coupé). After the opening lap, Fässler was sixth like in qualifying whilst Jean Alesi (AMG-Mercedes) and Schneider improved by four positions each, Alesi from 11th to seventh and Schneider from 13th to ninth.

On lap six, Scheider made his first compulsory pit stop, and so did Fässler and Schneider. Albers pitted one lap later whilst Alesi came in on lap eight. After the first round of pit stops, Albers was second again, less than one second behind Scheider. Schneider was fourth and improved to third on lap 14.

On lap 20 Albers made his second stop followed by Scheider and Schneider one lap later. At the pit lane exit, Scheider lost the right front wheel which had not been fixed correctly and retired. Now Albers had the lead ahead of Schneider who reduced the gap of about 15 to 5.3sec at the finish. Albers won ahead of Schneider, Alesi came home fifth whilst Fässler passed Jeroen Bleekemolen (Opel Astra V8 Coupé) on the final lap to finish sixth.

Christijan Albers, ExpressService AMG-Mercedes:

"It’s a great feeling to win in front of my home crowd. In the opening stages I was faster than Scheider, however, I wasn’t able to pass him because I had not enough downforce on the front axle due to the slipstream. After my second pit stop and with new tyres I pushed hard and was able to take the lead and maintain it to the finish. Now I look forward to an exciting final at Hockenheim."

Bernd Schneider, Vodafone AMG-Mercedes:

"I made a good start and the car ran perfectly so I was able to push throughout. Our team did a great job with the pit stops and the strategy. Starting 13th second place was the best possible result. Now I hope the crowd at Hockenheim will support me as well as the spectators did here for Christijan."

Jean Alesi AMG-Mercedes:

"Qualifying 11th yesterday I’m quite satisfied with my fifth-place finish today."

Marcel Fässler AMG-Mercedes:

"I got stuck behind Jeroen Bleekemolen for almost the whole race. Moreover, I lost a lot of time during my pit stops which is a pity, because the car ran well and a better result was possible."

Original-Teile AMG-Mercedes, Thomas Jäger, approaching the pits for his second stop, was hit by Laurent Aiello (Abt-Audi TT-R) who just left his pit. Jäger lost several positions and ended up 13th. Bernd Mayländer came home 16th. ARTA AMG-Mercedes, Katsutomo Kaneishi finished 18th. Service 24 h AMG-Mercedes driver Stefan Mücke suffered from clutch problems causing his engine to stall during his first pit stops. Due to a fading brake he later had two offs and ended up 17th. Gary Paffett finished twelfth and was best driver with a 2002 AMG-Mercedes CLK.

Norbert Haug Mercedes-Benz Motorsport director:

"Congratulations to Christijan Albers, Bernd Schneider and the HWA team, everybody did an excellent job today. After yesterday’s outcome we couldn’t expect this result today. Winning his home race, Christijan fulfilled the expectations of 62,000 spectators during the weekend. Bernd Schneider improved from 13th on the grid to second at the chequered flag. I’m sorry for Opel and Timo Scheider, they were fast all weekend and have been able to win. With Bernd and Christijan within one point, the season’s final at Hockenheim in two weeks is totally open and we all look forward to a great race in front off packed grand stands."

-mercedes-

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Series DTM
Drivers Jean Alesi , Laurent Aiello , Marcel Fassler , Bernd Schneider , Bernd Maylander , Christijan Albers , Timo Scheider , Norbert Haug , Thomas Jäger , Gary Paffett , Jeroen Bleekemolen , Kaneishi Katsutomo , Stefan Mücke