Istanbul: Mercedes preview

Maximum Challenge at Istanbul The thrill of the 2005 DTM title fight between Gary Paffett (DaimlerChrysler Bank AMG-Mercedes) and Mattias Ekström (Audi) prior to the tenth round at the Istanbul Racepark this coming weekend can hardly be ...

Maximum Challenge at Istanbul

The thrill of the 2005 DTM title fight between Gary Paffett (DaimlerChrysler Bank AMG-Mercedes) and Mattias Ekström (Audi) prior to the tenth round at the Istanbul Racepark this coming weekend can hardly be bigger.

The only two remaining title contenders have taken turns in the overall lead for seven races and have been separated by no more than seven points. Prior to the season's penultimate round, held at a track new to everybody, Ekström - winner of the last race at the Lausitzring - leads with 69 points ahead of Paffett, who has won four races so far, with 68.

The season so far: Paffett and Ekström are the only drivers to cover all of the year's 384 race laps and 1,474 kilometres. Paffett has been in the lead for 157 laps and 521 kilometres (35.3 percent). Ekström led 70 laps and 313 kilometres (21.2 percent). Opel driver Heinz-Harald Frentzen is third in this statistics with 42 lead laps and 176 lead kilometres (11.9 percent).

Paffett and Ekström shared victories in the last six races with each winning three. The Englishman also won at the season's second race at the Lausitzring. The other winners this year have been Jean Alesi (AMG-Mercedes/Hockenheim) and Mika Häkkinen (Sport Edition AMG-Mercedes/Spa).

The circuit: The new Istanbul Racepark was built at Tepeören - Tuzla area 80 kilometres south-east of Istanbul. Construction for the 5.340-km long circuit began on 10 September 2003. The track is between 14 and 21.5 metres wide and features 6 right hand and 8 left hand corners. Races will be run anti clockwise.

Computer simulations indicated a maximum speed of 260 kph at the end of the back straight. The front straight is 655 metres long and the tight hairpin has a radius of 15 metres. Kimi Räikkönen had won the Formula One première at Istanbul on 21 August; his McLaren Mercedes team mate Juan Pablo Montoya came home third.

Facts and Figures: Next weekend's race is the first DTM Championship event in Asia. The ITC which had been developed from the DTM made an excursion to the continent and held their 1996 season's finale at Suzuka. Mercedes-Benz drivers Dario Franchitti and Bernd Schneider won both races. 2004, an invitational DTM race had been held at Shanghai; winner: Gary Paffett in the AMG-Mercedes C-Class.

Weights: The 2005 cars of Mercedes-Benz and Audi will race with the maximum weight of 1,070 kilograms for the third consecutive time. The Opels will race with 1,030 kilograms.

Motor sport in Turkey: The Turkish automobile sport federation TOMSFED has been founded in 1991. They currently organize about 1,000 licence holders, of which 156 are race drivers. They mainly take part in touring car and one-make cup racing. Other permanent circuits besides Istanbul Racepark are located in Körfez and Izmir.

Gary Paffett (DaimlerChrysler Bank AMG-Mercedes, second in the last race at the Lausitzring):

"Istanbul Racepark is a new track for all DTM drivers; therefore the preconditions are the same for everybody. Our car has performed very well at all circuits so far this season and I'm confident to have a good chance of winning also in Turkey."

Jean Alesi (AMG-Mercedes, eighth at the Lausitzring after drive-through penalty):

"The gap behind the top-three in the Championship is too big; however, there will be a thrilling battle for fourth place overall between me, Mika, Bernd, Jamie and some of the other drivers. At the end of this season I still owe my fans a good result and will fight for it at Istanbul."

Mika Häkkinen (Sport Edition AMG-Mercedes, 12th at the Lausitzring with a damaged car after blameless collision):

"The new circuit is quite challenging with a couple of elevation changes, similar to Spa. I like such tracks, as I showed with my victory in Belgium. It would be great to win the DTM première at Istanbul for Mercedes-Benz."

Jamie Green (Salzgitter AMG-Mercedes, retired from the Lausitzring race due to brake problems):

"At the Lausitzring, I had a perfect qualifying and clinched my first DTM pole position. If I manage to do the same at Istanbul, and if I finally have a good start, I should be able to finish on the podium."

Bernd Schneider (Vodafone AMG-Mercedes, retired from the Lausitzring race due to a tyre damaged by debris):

"The Istanbul circuit is new for all DTM drivers and we have seen it only on TV so far. This is an interesting challenge which I like. I want to score as many points as possible to become the second best Mercedes driver in the overall ranking behind Gary. "

Norbert Haug, Vice President Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:

"The new race track has an interesting and challenging layout - it might be the most difficult circuit on the calendar. It is possible that we will see a preliminary or even final decision in the title fight. However, it is more likely that we all may look forward to a decider at the season's finale at Hockenheim."


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Series DTM
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya