DTM

Le Mans: Friday practices report

Much-promising start at Le Mans Excitement is heating up in the battle for the title: can Schneider already make things clear during the first appearance of the DTM at Le Mans, or can Kristensen keep the title race open until the season final at...

Much-promising start at Le Mans

Excitement is heating up in the battle for the title: can Schneider already make things clear during the first appearance of the DTM at Le Mans, or can Kristensen keep the title race open until the season final at Hockenheim?

During the first encounter of the DTM at the 4.180 kilometres long Circuit Bugatti, Tom Kristensen was the first to top the time sheet with his Audi A4 DTM. The Dane, known as the King of Le Mans with seven wins in the 24-hour race, set the fastest lap time in the first test on Friday morning with 1.32.624 minutes ahead of Schneider, who was 0.171 seconds slower than Kristensen on his fastest lap at the short lay-out of the legendary racing circuit.

Thed Björk had a sensational debut in the DTM. The Swede, who is standing in for the injured Nicolas Kiesa at the Audi customer team Futurecom TME this weekend, was third in the first 90 minutes' test behind the two title candidates. Björk, who completed 33 laps on his first outing with a DTM car, drove a fastest lap time of 1.32.852 and even outpaced his fellow-countryman Mattias Ekström. Björk was only 0.228 seconds short of Kristensen's fastest time.

Behind the Swedish duo in third and fourth place, Bruno Spengler, Mika Häkkinen and Jamie Green followed in fifth through seventh place. Timo Scheider was the best-placed driver with a 2005-spec car in eighth place. Two more drivers with year-old machinery, Stefan Mücke and Christian Abt, completed the top ten.

Spengler fastest of the day in second test

After Audi's fastest time in the first test on Friday morning, Mercedes-Benz countered with Bruno Spengler in the afternoon: with 1.32.099 minutes, the Franco-Canadian set the fastest time in the second DTM test at the short version of the Le Mans circuit. With 43 laps, Schneider was also the most prolific driver at the 4.18 kilometres long Circuit Bugatti.

With the AMG-Mercedes C-Class, Spengler was over half a second faster than Kristensen's fastest time in the morning. The Dane was able to improve his time, but was second in the second session, 0.205 seconds down on Spengler's fastest time. Mercedes-Benz driver Jamie Green completed the top three.

Points leader Bernd Schneider was fourth, 0.386 seconds behind his fellow-Mercedes-driver Spengler and 0.181 seconds down on Kristensen. Fastest driver of a car from last year in the second test was Timo Scheider. At the end of the 90 minutes' session, his fastest lap time of 1.32.499 minutes brought him fifth place.

His fellow-Audi-drivers Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Mattias Ekström occupied sixth and seventh place. Next to Scheider, Stefan Mücke in eighth place and Frank Stippler in ninth place also made it into the top 10 with 2005-spec cars. Mika Häkkinen was tenth.

After his sensational DTM debut in the morning, Thed Björk, who is replacing the injured Nicolas Kiesa with Audi customer team Futurecom TME this weekend, was best-placed driver of a 2004-spec car in 15th place. In the first test, the reigning Swedish touring car champion was an excellent third.

48 minutes after the start of the second test, the session had to be interrupted for almost seven minutes. There were debris on the track going onto the main straight, which had to be removed by the marshals.

-credit: dtm

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Series DTM
Drivers Heinz-Harald Frentzen , Nicolas Kiesa , Tom Kristensen , Bernd Schneider , Christian Abt , Mattias Ekström , Thed Björk , Bruno Spengler , Frank Stippler , Stefan Mücke , Jamie Green