DTM

Adria: Qualifying report

Ekström grabs pole position just 300ths ahead of Alesi The third DTM race at the Adria International Raceway was marked by a thrilling battle for pole position. Ultimately, Audi driver Mattias Ekström edged out Jean Alesi in an AMG-Mercedes ...

Ekstr?m grabs pole position just 300ths ahead of Alesi

The third DTM race at the Adria International Raceway was marked by a thrilling battle for pole position. Ultimately, Audi driver Mattias Ekstr?m edged out Jean Alesi in an AMG-Mercedes C-class by a wafer-thin margin of 300ths of a second for a time of 1.11,324 minutes and the first start berth. It was the Swede's fifth pole position of his DTM career.

Mattias Ekstr?m.
Photo by Audi Sport Press.

The gap between the first seven drivers in today's super pole contest was a mere two tenths of a second. Last year's champion Christijan Albers secured a third place in his AMG-Mercedes C-class on the 2.702 kilometre-long race track, followed by team mate Gary Paffett. Audi's Martin Tomczyk and Heinz-Harald Frentzen in an Opel Vectra GTS V8 make up the third start row. The 1997 Formula 1 vice champion missed out on the pole position by just 0.168 seconds.

Mattias Ekstr?m was very satisfied to have come out on top in qualifiying. "I'm over the moon. But I do feel a bit lonely at the front with the three Mercedes drivers behind me - I would've preferred my Audi team mates," the 25-year-old said. However, he is certain that his fifth-placed team mate Tomczyk will launch a charge from behind. "Martin's a fast lad. I advise the Mercedes drivers to regularly look in their rear-view mirror."

Audi sports head Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich said: "The entire line-up is separated by just fractions of seconds. This substantiates the high standard of this championship. When Mattias is at the top we can be assured of a good show. I'm also pleased for Frank Biela and the Joest team, who have already reached the super pole in only their third DTM race."

Second-placed in qualifying and former Ferrari driver Jean Alesi said: "I'm a fan of Italy and the track here suits me very well. I just feel on top of the world here at the Adria Raceway. I pushed very hard today and am pleased with my ranking in the first start row. I want to pull off a good and exciting race here for the spectators and my fans," Alesi said.

Mercedes sports head Norbert Haug: "An exciting qualifying, especially for spectators watching on television. The first three drivers lie within 44 thousandths of eachother. Jean Alesi will be starting in first row for the second time this year following his pole position in Hockenheim. 20 cars within 0.7 seconds in qualifying show the quality of the series."

Heinz-Harald Frentzen wrapped up qualifying with his best result to date in the DTM: "I needed quite a while to find the right line, but ultimately I managed pretty well. The switch to a touring car is not at all easy. I think that the third start row is quite a good starting point. Contrary to the last race in Estoril, this time I'm behind Jean Alesi and am expecting thrilling duels. The race track is definitely fun," said the German.

Opel sport head Volker Strycek said: "Our car was very good in the middle section. We will work until tomorrow on improving ourselves in the other sections. The competitiveness of our Vectra over distance was proven yesterday in the long-run tests. That's why we're confident."

-dtm-

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Series DTM
Drivers Heinz-Harald Frentzen , Jean Alesi , Frank Biela , Martin Tomczyk , Norbert Haug , Volker Strycek , Gary Paffett