Hockenheim: Mercedes race report

Bernd Schneider Wins DTM Season Opener with 13th Hockenheim Victory Bernd Schneider drove his Vodafone AMG-Mercedes C-Class to victory in the 2006 DTM season opener at Hockenheim repeating his win in last year's season finale here five and a...

Bernd Schneider Wins DTM Season Opener with 13th Hockenheim Victory

Bernd Schneider drove his Vodafone AMG-Mercedes C-Class to victory in the 2006 DTM season opener at Hockenheim repeating his win in last year's season finale here five and a half months ago.

The four most experienced DTM drivers crossed the finish line first: Behind four-times DTM Champion Bernd Schneider came home the seven-times Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen (Audi), Formula One World Championship runner-up Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Audi) and double Formula One World Champion Mika Häkkinen (AMG-Mercedes C-Class).

Alexandros Margaritis (Easy Rent AMG-Mercedes C-Class) and Jean Alesi (stern AMG-Mercedes C-Class) with last year's cars ended up fifth and sixth respectively. In his 201st race, Bernd Schneider achieved his 40th DTM/ITC win and his 13th at Hockenheim. 104,000 spectators attended the event during the weekend.

Short before the start, pole sitter Jamie Green experienced a problem with the engine electronics which could not be solved. Therefore he spun during the formation lap when warming up the tyres. During the first two laps Green dropped to tenth place and came into the pits and retired.

At the start Schneider accelerated into an immediate lead ahead of Stefan Mücke, who improved from fifth on the grid to second in a last year's car of his father's private team. Schneider came in for his first pit stop on lap nine and resumed in fourth place. Five laps later Schneider regained the lead whilst Mücke was fourth ahead of Alexandros Margaritis in the Persson team's 2005 C-Class.

Mücke and Margaritis pitted simultaneously on lap 20 and exited the pits side-by-side. On lap 23 both cars touched with Mücke suffering from a broken left front suspension. He came into the pits and retired.

On lap 24, Bernd Schneider made his second pit stop and rejoined the race still in leading position ahead of Tom Kristensen who had pitted at the same time. After 37 laps Schneider crossed the finish line 4.2sec ahead of Kristensen.

Mika Häkkinen started seventh and was sixth after the first lap. He made his pit stops on laps six and 21. On lap 28, the Finn was fourth and reduced the gap behind Heinz-Harald Frentzen to under one second, but was not able to pass. Margaritis came home fifth ahead of his Persson team mate Jean Alesi.

The Frenchman had an exciting battle with Martin Tomczyk (Audi A4 DTM). Behind them, DTM rookie Daniel la Rosa was eighth with his 2005 TrekStor AMG-Mercedes C-Class until the last lap. Then he retired due to low fuel pressure. La Rosa missed the fastest lap of the race by three thousandths of a second.

Bruno Spengler who had qualified third suffered from a damaged tyre on lap 15 at the hairpin and drove back to the pits slowly. The Canadian posted the fastest lap of the race on lap 17 with a 1:34.726 and ended up ninth.

Bernd Schneider, Vodafone AMG-Mercedes C-Class 2006, winner:

"I'm really happy about my 40th victory. My team gave me a perfect car and made great pit stops. I thank everybody for their immense efforts. This weekend everything went my way and it's a good feeling to win again here."

Mika Häkkinen, AMG-Mercedes C-Class 2006, fourth:

"I had preferred to finish on the podium. After my second pit stop I was behind Heinz-Harald Frentzen and was able close the gap, but I was not able to pass him. Starting seventh on the grid I'm still satisfied with my result, but there's more to come in the next races."

Alexandros Margaritis, Easy Rent AMG-Mercedes C-Class 2005, fifth:

"I had a good feeling during this morning's warm-up. We had a good speed and I'm happy to finish fifth and to be the best driver with a last year's car."

Jean Alesi, stern AMG-Mercedes C-Class 2005, sixth:

"My qualifying was not so good, but our team didn't give in and gave me a great car. Thanks to everybody."

Bruno Spengler, DaimlerChrysler Bank AMG-Mercedes C-Class 2006, ninth:

"I lost some positions at the first corner after the start; however I was able to catch up afterwards. Due to the damaged tyre I lost a lot of time and we had to make my second pit stop earlier than planned. That was it."

Susie Stoddart, AutoScout24 AMG-Mercedes C-Class 2004, tenth:

"I'm satisfied to finish my first DTM race in tenth position. The car had a good speed and we had good pit stops. I'm happy and look forward to the next race."

Mathias Lauda, Second Hand AMG-Mercedes C-Class 2004, 11th:

"I'm happy with my first DTM race. Unfortunately I was not able to see the start light due to the rear wing of the car in front of me."

Daniel la Rosa, TrekStor AMG-Mercedes C-Class 2005, retired:

"A great race and I was eighth and in the points positions until the final lap. I was even able to fight for seventh with Martin Tomczyk. Then I had a problem with the fuel pressure and the car stopped."

Stefan Mücke, TV-Spielfilm AMG-Mercedes C-Class 2005, retired:

"I'm very disappointed. Mattias Ekström made a mistake under braking ahead of me and Alexandros came side-by-side with me. I wasn't able to avoid him and we touched, as a result my suspension broke ."

Jamie Green, Salzgitter AMG-Mercedes C-Class 2006, retired:

"This was a frustrating end to a weekend which in the beginning looked really promising. I realised the problem with the engine electronics already on the formation lap when I suffered from wheelspin. However, that's motor racing. I now look forward to the next race at the Lausitzring in three weeks."

Norbert Haug, Vice President Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:

"A good start with exciting sport and several drivers capable of winning. However, Bernd Schneider was in optimum shape and controlled the field from the beginning to the chequered flag. With the 40th win of his career and the 13th here he is the King of Hockenheim."

"Alexandros Margaritis with fifth place and Daniel la Rosa with a fast lap of three thousandths of a second behind the fastest lap of the race showed a good performance. Jamie Green retired due to problems with the engine electronic, today he could have achieved a very good result from pole position."

"Bruno Spengler dropped back with a damaged tyre. Susie Stoddart performed well with a tenth place in her DTM debut. The new weight rules proved to be good and the field was even more competitive. Here the DTM was a first-class stage for an exciting competiton which the spectators at the race track and the TV viewers at home certainly enjoyed."


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Series DTM
Drivers Heinz-Harald Frentzen , Jean Alesi , Mika Hakkinen , Tom Kristensen , Martin Tomczyk , Bernd Schneider , Norbert Haug , Mattias Ekström , Bruno Spengler , Alexandros Margaritis , Mathias Lauda , Stefan Mücke , Daniel la Rosa , Jamie Green