AMG-Mercedes driver Jean Alesi topped Friday's test times for round six of the DTM at Donington Park. In wet but constantly changing conditions, the Frenchman's CLK-DTM set a benchmark time of 1m39.572s (145.451 km/h) late in the afternoon's...
AMG-Mercedes driver Jean Alesi topped Friday's test times for round six of the DTM at Donington Park. In wet but constantly changing conditions, the Frenchman's CLK-DTM set a benchmark time of 1m39.572s (145.451 km/h) late in the afternoon's second session. He edged his Mercedes team-mate Bernd Schneider - who'd been fastest in the morning's first session - into the second spot by just 0.078s. Scottish driver Peter Dumbreck's OPC Team Phoenix-run Astra V8 Coupé was the fastest Opel, finishing the day 0.602s off Alesi's pace in third, with Christian Abt the leading Audi driver in seventh place in his Abt-Audi TT-R. Alesi is yet to win a race in 2003, but took his maiden DTM victory at the British track last season and is looking for a repeat this time around: "I've made some mistakes this year," he said. "I just need to put an entire race weekend together, and I know this will happen soon. The car was working to my style very well and I'm pleased to be racing in England, but I hope it's dry for the race for the sake of the spectators."
Rain, drizzle and a soaking track made chasing set-ups a difficult exercise, but it was honours even in sector times: Laurent Aiello's Abt-Audi was quickest in the track's first sector, with Dumbreck leading the way in the second sector and Alesi the fastest man in the third sector. Dumbreck comes to his home race as Opel's leading points-scorer, and the high-speed sweeps of Donington could be his best chance of a victory so far this season. "I feel very confident and I'm happy to be at home," he said. "It's a very flowing track, which suits us well and the car is good in all the fast corners." Abt-Audi came to Donington Park fresh from a major test at the Italian circuit of Vallelunga and Christian Abt says the team will be putting the lessons learned into practice this weekend. "Vallelunga was useful," he said, "so we hope that the feedback will prove a benefit." With the playing field levelled by the conditions, two 2002-spec Mercedes CLKs were able to finish the day in the top 10, with Thomas Jaeger eighth and English driver Gary Paffett 10th.
Sunday's race will start at noon local time (13:00 CET) and will be broadcast live on ZDF, with the programme starting at 12:45 CET.