Donington: Mercedes Saturday qualifying report

Four AMG-Mercedes CLKs, four Abt-Audi TT-Rs and two Opel Astra V8 Coupés among the top-ten Bernd Schneider (Vodafone AMG-Mercedes) and Jean Alesi (AMG-Mercedes) will start Sunday's sixth round of the 2003 DTM at Donington, England from the...

Four AMG-Mercedes CLKs, four Abt-Audi TT-Rs and two Opel Astra V8 Coupés among the top-ten

Bernd Schneider (Vodafone AMG-Mercedes) and Jean Alesi (AMG-Mercedes) will start Sunday's sixth round of the 2003 DTM at Donington, England from the first row on the grid. In Saturday's single-lap qualifying, Schneider set a time of 1:28.206 and achieved his 22nd DTM career pole position, his fourth of the season. Alesi was second with a 1:28.396. Both repeated their qualifying result from Nuremberg's Norisring five weeks ago. Marcel Fässler (AMG-Mercedes) was fifth fastest with a 1:28.581 ahead of Christijan Albers (ExpressService AMG-Mercedes) who set a 1:28.717.

On the 4.023-kilometre track, Bernd Schneider and Jean Alesi fought an exciting battle. The Frenchman, who had been seventh fastest in qualifying, started the single-lap qualifying fourth and posted a fastest lap which was improved only by Schneider, fifth in qualifying. Mattias Ekström, who had been fastest in Saturday morning's Free Practice and in qualifying, was the last contender in the single-lap qualifying and ended up third with a time of 1:28.418.

England's Gary Paffett (Service 24h AMG-Mercedes) who made his first DTM appearance in front of his home crowd, was twelfth fastest (1:29.298) and best driver with a last year's AMG-Mercedes CLK. He missed the single-lap qualifying by a margin of less than two tenths of a second. The first 15 drivers in qualifying were within a little more than one second.

Bernd Schneider, Vodafone AMG-Mercedes, Pole Position (1:28.206): "I really like this track and it's great fun to drive here. My qualifying lap was almost perfect, unfortunately I lost a bit of time at the chicane and at the Melbourne hairpin, however this didn't affect my lap time too much. I'm happy about my fourth pole position of the year, because it wasn't easy to improve Jean's time. Compliments to my team, they prepared my car perfectly for qualifying."

Jean Alesi, AMG-Mercedes, AMG-Mercedes, second (1:28.396): "I'm satisfied with my second qualifying position. It's important here to be on the first row. Last year, I won from second on the grid. We are well prepared for the race, as we have found good set-ups for both wet and dry conditions."

Marcel Fässler, AMG-Mercedes, fifth (1:28.581): "This lap was not bad, however, I braked too early before Redgate, and then I ran wide at Coppice and missed the apex. From the third row on the grid everything is possible, but it will be hard to pass Mattias Ekström."

Christijan Albers, ExpressService AMG-Mercedes, sixth (1:28.717): "My car suffered from oversteer three times, in the first corner and then in the two corners before the finish line. Therefore I lost valuable time and probably several positions."

Gary Paffett, Service 24h AMG-Mercedes, 12th (1:29.298): "I'm really glad to achieve my best DTM qualifying result in front of my home crowd. We have improved the balance of the car from Free Practice to qualifying. Now I look forward to the race."

Thomas Jäger, Original-Teile AMG-Mercedes, 13th (1:29.439): "A satisfying weekend for me so far, because I posted good lap times in the tests and the Free Practice session. My first two runs in qualifying were fast, but I made a mistake on my third trial, therefore I was not able to improve further."

Bernd Mayländer, Original-Teile AMG-Mercedes, 17th (1:29.797): "From this morning's Free Practice to qualifying, we improved by more than a second. The car's balance was significantly better this afternoon."

Stefan Mücke, Service 24 h AMG-Mercedes, 20th (1:30.212): "I'm not happy with my qualifying result. Although I made no mistakes, I was not able to improve. We didn't manage to get the optimum out of the tyres, but we will work to optimise the set-up for Sunday's race."

Katsutomo Kaneishi, ARTA AMG-Mercedes, 21st (1:30.936): "On my third run, I made a mistake and went off. However, I had problems with the traction earlier today. We will analyse the data and work on a better set-up for the race."

Norbert Haug, Vice President Mercedes-Benz Motorsport: "A great lap from Bernd and a very good job from Jean. To have two cars on the front row with a gap of less than two tenths is a better performance than we expected after this morning's Free Practice. Mattias Ekström had posted a very fast lap, and he came close to us in the single-lap qualifying as well. With the first seven cars within half a second., the qualifying format has again proved to be good and we can expect an exciting race. We look forward to welcome 1,300 guests from McLaren and Mercedes-Ilmor. We want to show a great race to our colleagues and their families as well as to all the other spectators."

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Series DTM
Drivers Jean Alesi , Marcel Fassler , Bernd Schneider , Bernd Maylander , Christijan Albers , Norbert Haug , Mattias Ekström , Thomas Jäger , Gary Paffett , Kaneishi Katsutomo , Stefan Mücke