DTM

Hockenheim: Friday practices report

Fast year-old car: Jean Alesi in front after first test The battle for the 2006 DTM title has officially started. The secrecy and sand-bagging of the pre-season test sessions is now over, from now on, it is serious business with the battle...

Fast year-old car: Jean Alesi in front after first test

The battle for the 2006 DTM title has officially started. The secrecy and sand-bagging of the pre-season test sessions is now over, from now on, it is serious business with the battle between Audi and Mercedes-Benz.

Jean Alesi had the best start with his 2005 AMG-Mercedes C-Class in the first test at the Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg. With 1.34,857 minutes, the Frenchman, who won here last year, set the fastest time. Fellow Mercedes-driver Bruno Spengler was second fastest (1.35.004 minutes) from Pierre Kaffer with the Audi A4 DTM (1.35.027 minutes).

Remarkable: in the first test session, four year-old cars made it into the top ten. With Jean Alesi and Pierre Kaffer, two cars from last year are ranking among the top positions. Stefan Mücke and Christian Abt, who are also driving 2005-spec cars, are in ninth and tenth place respectively. Cars from 2005 have a minimum weight of 1060 kg, which makes them 10 kg lighter than the current machinery.

A close call: after 90 minutes, the first eight drivers were only separated by a little more than five tenths of a second. Behind the top three, Ekström concluded the session on Friday morning in fourth place ahead of Audi's new signing Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Tom Kristensen. DTM record-champion Bernd Schneider was seventh from Jamie Green.

Driving her AMG-Mercedes C-Class, Susie Stoddart decided the first duel of the year in her favour. The Scotswoman was almost 1.6 seconds faster than her female colleague Vanina Ickx and occupied 17th place. Ickx was 19th with the Audi A4 DTM. Fastest DTM-rookie was Daniel La Rosa in 15th.

Mercedes-Benz trio in front after second test

A good start for Bruno Spengler on his debut in the HWA team. After second place in Friday morning's first test, he set the fastest time in the second session with his AMG-Mercedes C-Class. On his fastest lap, the Canadian completed the 4.574 km long Hockenheimring in 1.34.898 minutes. With that time, he led home a Mercedes trio on first to third place. Fastest driver with an Audi A4 DTM was Tom Kristensen in fourth place.

DTM record champion Bernd Schneider, who scored twelve of his 39 DTM race wins at Hockenheim, was second behind Spengler. On the fastest lap out of his total of 31, Schneider was only 0.068 seconds slower than Spengler. Another 0.046 seconds down was two-times F1 world champion Mika Häkkinen in third place. Tom Kristensen was fastest Audi driver in fourth position with a fastest lap time of 1.35.021 minutes. The Dane was only 0.123 seconds down on Spengler's fastest time and fell nine thousandths of a second short on third spot.

Drivers with one-year old machinery were quick again. During the second test, sixth to ninth places were occupied by drivers with 2005-spec cars. Fastest of them was Alex Margaritis. With the AMG-Mercedes C-Class of the Persson-team, the Greek was sixth in the final ranking. He was only 0.425 seconds down on Spengler's fastest time. Frank Stippler was seventh with the Audi A4 DTM.

Jean Alesi and Stefan Mücke set almost exactly the same lap time. Eventually, the Frenchman was 0.001 seconds ahead of Mücke and claimed eighth place. Daniel La Rosa was again the fastest novice in the second test session of 90 minutes. His lap time of 1.35.854 brought him twelfth position. In total, La Rosa completed 33 laps, more than any other DTM-driver during the afternoon.

Once again faster than her female rival was Susie Stoddart with the AMG-Mercedes C-Class. In the second test session, she again outpaced Vanina Ickx with the Audi A4 DTM and occupied 17th position. Stoddart was almost three tenths of a second faster than the second lady racer in the field.

Bruno Spengler caused a brief interruption of the 90 minutes' session. In the closing stages of the test, his AMG-Mercedes C-Class caught fire due to a leak in the fuel system. The fire could be extinguished immediately in the pit lane. After the interruption, the test continued.

-dtm-

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Series DTM
Drivers Heinz-Harald Frentzen , Jean Alesi , Mika Hakkinen , Tom Kristensen , Vanina Ickx , Bernd Schneider , Christian Abt , Bruno Spengler , Pierre Kaffer , Frank Stippler , Stefan Mücke , Jamie Green