Christijan Albers Wins Starting sixth on the grid, Albers improved to fourth on the opening lap. After his first pit stop on lap seven Albers was immediately behind EkstrÃ¶m and Gary Paffett (C-Klasse AMG-Mercedes). At the beginning of lap 9, ...
Christijan Albers Wins
Starting sixth on the grid, Albers improved to fourth on the opening lap. After his first pit stop on lap seven Albers was immediately behind Ekström and Gary Paffett (C-Klasse AMG-Mercedes). At the beginning of lap 9, Albers passed both cars in front of him with a spectacular move. When Alesi pitted one lap later, Albers took the lead.
He defended the top spot after his second pit stop on lap 18 against a charging Ekström until the finish line. Paffett, who had qualified second, followed leader Ekström for the first six laps with a gap of less than a second. On lap 7, Paffett made his first pit stop and rejoined the race behind the Audi. Paffett suffered from a damaged front left tyre while battling with Ekström and had to make an extra pit stop. He dropped to 20th. Paffett clocked the fastest lap of the race on lap 29 (1:35.528) and came home 13th.
Schneider finished fifth 6.036sec behind Albers. He made his pit stops on laps 6 and 19. Alesi had an exciting fight with Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Opel Vectra GTS V8) during the first stage and passed the German on lap 6. Alesi pitted on laps 10 and 21 and came home seventh.
Christijan Albers, DaimlerChrysler Bank AMG-Mercedes:
"I'm happy for the entire team about my first win of the season. I started well and made up two positions. Before the passing manoeuvre, I was on the better line than Gary and Ekström and could keep the momentum to overtake them. Ekström was very strong and I had to give all to maintain my position. I thank our team for their job and particularly for two very good pit stops which made this win possible."
Bernd Schneider, Vodafone AMG-Mercedes:
"I made a good start and my car ran well. However, on this track it's difficult to overtake. From my seventh position on the grid I couldn't achieve more."
Jean Alesi, AMG-Mercedes:
"I had an exciting race and the battle with Frentzen was fun. It was difficult to pass so I'm happy about the two points I scored today."
Gary Paffett, C-Klasse AMG-Mercedes:
"After my first pit stop I was hit in the left front corner in the battle with Ekström. This obviously damaged my tyre. After a good qualifying and a good start to the race I'm disappointed because I could have won."
CLK AMG-Mercedes, Stefan Mücke left the pits after his second stop on lap 19 with the fuel nozzle stuck in the tank. He lost it at the pit lane exit without damage. Mücke finished 14th and was best driver with a last year's car. Original-Teile AMG-Mercedes, Markus Winkelhock ended up 17th. Bernd Mayländer, CLK AMG-Mercedes had a short off on lap 20 and ended up 18th. Sonax Dark Dog AMG-Mercedes, Jarek Janis retired on lap 10 due to a broken shift stick.
Norbert Haug, Vice President Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:
"An exciting race with good and fair sport. Christijan's manoeuvre when he passed Gary and Mattias Ekström was first class. Congratulations to Christijan and the HWA team who had a good strategy and carried out their pit stops well so that Christijan was able to move up front from sixth on the grid. Gary, too, could have won the race, unfortunately he suffered from a damaged tyre. All three manufacturers were on the same level today and demonstrated the championship's potential. Compliments to Mattias Ekström and the Abt-Audi team, their performance today had deserved victory."