Bruno Spengler: Fourth Win, Runner-up in the Championship Jamie Green second, Champion Bernd Schneider fourth Vodafone/Salzgitter AMG-Mercedes with Schneider and Green take team title Hockenheim weekend with a record crowd of 149,000 ...
Bruno Spengler: Fourth Win, Runner-up in the Championship
Jamie Green second, Champion Bernd Schneider fourth
Vodafone/Salzgitter AMG-Mercedes with Schneider and Green take team title
Hockenheim weekend with a record crowd of 149,000 spectators
Bruno Spengler (DaimlerChrysler Bank AMG-Mercedes C-Class) won the final round of the 2006 DTM at Hockenheim. With his fourth victory of the year, the Canadian ended the season runner-up in the Drivers' Championship behind Bernd Schneider (Vodafone AMG-Mercedes C-Class). The German had clinched his fifth DTM Championship already two weeks ago at Le Mans and finished today's race fourth behind Jamie Green (Salzgitter AMG-Mercedes C-Class) and Tom Kristensen (Audi A4 DTM).
For Mercedes-Benz it is the 50th DTM race win since 2000 (including the Shanghai invitational event in 2004), the fourth 1-2 victory this year and the ninth consecutive success in Hockenheim since the 2002 season finale. Jean Alesi (stern AMG-Mercedes) drove his 2005 C-Class to an eighth-place finish; the Frenchman who will end his DTM career finished in the points for the 30th time in 51 races.
Susie Stoddart (AutoScout24 AMG-Mercedes) with a 2004 C-Class came home ninth, her best DTM result and the best result with a 2004 car this year. Mathias Lauda (Second Hand AMG-Mercedes C-Class) in another 2004 car ended up 10th. 149,000 spectators attended the DTM finale at Hockenheim during the weekend, a new record.
Spengler started second on the grid ahead of Green. Häkkinen had qualified sixth ahead of Schneider and Daniel la Rosa with the 2005 TrekStor AMG-Mercedes C-Class. At the end of the opening lap, Green was second half a second behind pole sitter Frentzen. Spengler followed in fourth place; Schneider was sixth and Häkkinen seventh. In front of the Mercedes, Mathias Lauda was pushed into a spin by Vanina Ickx (Audi).
On lap three, the first six were within two seconds. One lap later at the hairpin, Green dropped to fourth behind Frentzen, Tomczyk and Spengler.
Lap six: Spengler improved to second, Schneider is third. Green followed with a gap of about two seconds. Häkkinen came in for his first pitstop and resumed at the end of the field. Schneider was third when he pitted for the first time on lap 10; he rejoined the race in 10th place behind Kristensen.
On the following lap, Spengler overtook Frentzen and took the lead ahead of Green whilst Frentzen made his first pit stop and resumed behind Schneider. Moments later Schneider touched Kristensen from behind after a mistake under braking, damaging his front. Frentzen benefited from the situation and passed Schneider.
Spengler and Green were still on their first stints when Schneider made his second pitstop on lap 17. He dropped to 15th position. The two leaders came in for their respective first stops one lap later. Spengler rejoined the race in fourth place and Green was fifth.
After the pitstops of Mattias Ekström (Audi), la Rosa and Margaritis on lap 20, Spengler had regained the lead. Häkkinen came into the pits and retired. The Finn had been hit at the start which had severely affected the aerodynamics.
After their respective second pitstops on lap 26 la Rosa and Margaritis tangled and la Rosa pitted. On lap 22, he had posted the second fastest lap of the race (1:35.108) what the last year's car driver had managed already in the season opener. On lap 26, Green set the fastest race lap with a 1:34.954.
After the second round of pitstops on lap 30, Spengler held the lead 1.2sec ahead of Green. Schneider was fourth.
After 37 laps, Spengler crossed the finish line for his fourth victory and the sixth for Mercedes-Benz this year. Green, with four pole positions and two more front row positions the best qualifyer of the year, came home second and moved up to fifth overall in the final race.
Bruno Spengler, winner: "Today it was neck or nothing and it is great to end the season with a race win and with the second place in the championship. It was a fantastic race; it is really fun to overtake here at Hockenheim. I thank my team for their great job throughout the year and I look forward to our party tonight."
Jamie Green, 2nd: "Everything went well today and I was able to challenge for victory which is also proved by my fastest race lap. Therefore, I am satisfied with second position, also because I was able to clinch the Teams' Championship together with Bernd. It's a pity that the season is already over, I could continue like this. Congratulations to Bernd and Bruno on their first two places in the Championship, they were the best."
Bernd Schneider, 4th: "At the beginning of the race I did not expect to move up so far. However, the car ran well and with a better grid position, I would have been able to fight for victory. I am happy with this end of the season."
Jean Alesi, 8th: "To end up in the points is a good end to my DTM career. I thank the entire team and wish the guys all the best. I will miss the DTM and will continue my relationship to the brand Mercedes-Benz."
Susie Stoddart, 9th: "I am really happy to achieve my best DTM result in the final race of the year. This is a great end of the season and I thank my team for their great job throughout the year."
Mathias Lauda, 10th: "I made a good start, but I suffered from oversteer after being hit by Vanina Ickx. All I could do was to try and finish; it's a shame, today a better result was possible."
Alexandros Margaritis, retired: "Daniel la Rosa, Frank Stippler and I drove side-by-side into the corner at the Mercedes grandstand. Daniel pushed me into the Audi. I tried to continue, but in the end the car was not driveable any more."
Daniel la Rosa, retired: "Alexandros Margaritis hit me twice and after the second time the left rear suspension broke and I retired."
Mika Häkkinen, retired (diffuser damage): "Today's race could have been better for me, but at the start my car was hit on both sides and the aerodynamics were severely affected. After that all our hope went, because the car became very difficult to drive. However, again, many thanks to my team for the very good job they did for me this year. Congratulations to Bruno and Jamie for their very good result today and to Bernd, our Champion. Whatever the outcome of the weekend is, the most important is that Mercedes-Benz has won both Championships."
Stefan Mücke, retired (shock absorber): "I gained two or three places at the start; however, on the first lap my shock absorber at the right front broke and I was not able to continue."
Norbert Haug, Vice President Mercedes-Benz Motorsport: "Congratulations to Bruno Spengler and Jamie Green. They drove a great race and the HWA team with Gerhard Ungar and Hans-Jürgen Mattheis had the right strategy. Bruno and Jamie were able to lead without traffic for many laps and this was the foundation stone for their 1-2 victory. Bruno clinched the runner-up position in the Drivers' Championship and Jamie took the teams' title together with the new and five-time Champion Bernd Schneider."
"It was as great a season finale with a record crowd as you cannot expect it better. Particularly in the opening stages, today's race was touring car sport at its best and a worthy end of a fantastic year. We thank Audi for fair sport and a great season, which was perfect for us in sporting terms. In the end, we managed six victories to four of Audi."
"We offered the fans first-class sport and exciting entertainment. The customer orientation and the entertainment programme of the DTM proved their worth also in the races in Barcelona and Le Mans, where our series debuted with many enthusiastic spectators. We look forward to next year."