Donington: Race report

Jean Alesi wins at Donington Park; Bernd Schneider takes DTM points lead. Jean Alesi recorded his second DTM career win at the scene of his first - Donington Park in the UK. The Frenchman took the lead at the start and maintained it through 36...

Jean Alesi wins at Donington Park; Bernd Schneider takes DTM points lead.

Jean Alesi recorded his second DTM career win at the scene of his first - Donington Park in the UK. The Frenchman took the lead at the start and maintained it through 36 laps of racing and two pit-stops, despite intense pressure from his Mercedes team-mate Bernd Schneider. Mattias Ekstrom was third for Audi, despite a slow start forcing him to fight his way through from only fifth on the opening lap. Mercedes finished fourth and fifth, courtesy of Marcel Fassler and Christijan Albers, with Peter Dumbreck top Opel in sixth. The Scot's finish means he has now completed all six races run so far as the highest Astra driver. In the DTM points, Schneider takes over the top spot by just three points over erstwhile leader Albers, with Fassler third overall. Dumbreck maintains fourth overall, but Alesi's win moves him to fifth in the standings. The DTM now moves back across the English Channel, where round seven takes place at Germany's Nurburgring on August 17.

Six out of six for Mercedes

Jean Alesi's victory means Mercedes has so far made a clean-sweep of the 2003 DTM, with six victories from six starts. But its sports boss Norbert Haug doesn't believe that tells the whole story: "It's still extremely close, with five or six drivers able to take the title still. If you look at this weekend, we had some good luck, because if Mattias Ekstrom had fulfilled his performance in qualifying and started ahead of us, or if he'd made a better start, I could have seen him winning this race." Crowd favourite Jean Alesi celebrated his lights-to-flag win with doughnuts after the chequered flag. Despite Schneider never falling more than a second behind for the majority of the race, he explained how he'd enjoyed the 36 laps of non-stop pressure. "It's fantastic to win here again," he said. "During the race it was actually better when Bernd was right behind: that way I knew he was having to work his tyres harder... Pitting together was also very good, because his pit box was ahead of mine so I could see exactly where he was and what I had to do. I remember one Italian Grand Prix when David Coulthard and I pitted in exactly that situation and he went on to win, so that taught me a good lesson." Schneider fell away in the closing laps, having used the best from his tyres, but still leaves the UK with the championship lead. "I'd have preferred to have won obviously," he said, "but it's good to be heading into the last four races with the DTM points lead. I want to congratulate Jean on a great race." Thomas Jager completed a good afternoon for the Stuttgart marque, taking seventh and two points in his 2002-spec CLK. "That was a fantastic drive by Thomas and by Gary Paffett, who finished ninth," noted Haug.

Ekstrom goes it alone...

With a first corner accident accounting for Martin Tomczyk and a coming together between Laurent Aiello, Christian Abt and Alain Menu accounting for two more potentially podium-getting Abt-Audis, Mattias Ekstrom was a one-man Abt-Audi army at Donington Park. A bad start put him down to fifth, but a fighting drive and slick pit work from his Abt-Audi crew put him third after the second and final round of stops. "I didn't have a great start, so I think I'll ask for a new clutch and a new set of tyres and practice 100 starts back at our Kempten base," he said. "The guys did an incredible job in the pits. I had to fight to get past Thomas Jager, who was fighting for position, but I'm happy with the result." "Sometimes it only needs one person to make a good day," said team boss Hans-Jurgen Abt. "Mattias put in a fantastic drive and I think when we get to the Nurburgring, we can put in another strong showing."

Dumbreck takes best of the rest

Peter Dumbreck was disappointed to finish only sixth in his home race, but heads to round seven with the consolation that he is still fourth in the points and in the thick of the title chase. "That's the best thing about today - I didn't have a great race, but I'm still in touch," said the Scot. "If I'd got a better start and held a higher position, I think I could have finished higher than I did, because my lap times weren't too bad. But once I lost touch with the leaders and my tyres started to go off, I couldn't do any more. At one point I was getting so sideways out of the corners I thought I was Jean Alesi..." A spin at the Melbourne hairpin lost further seconds, but didn't jeopardise his sixth place. Opel motorsport boss Volker Strycek said: "We're not happy with the way the weekend has turned out, but that was another good performance by Peter. Now we look ahead to the Nurburgring: obviously our aim is to try and win, but we will be putting in our usual maximum effort to ensure a good result."


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Series DTM
Drivers Jean Alesi , David Coulthard , Laurent Aiello , Marcel Fassler , Peter Dumbreck , Martin Tomczyk , Bernd Schneider , Christijan Albers , Christian Abt , Mattias Ekström , Thomas Jäger , Volker Strycek , Gary Paffett , Alain Menu