Le Mans: Mercedes preview

Three Points, Two Races, One Decision *Bernd Schneider (Vodafone AMG-Mercedes C-Class) needs three more points out of the final two races of the 2006 season in order to clinch his fifth DTM championship title. *Prior to the ninth race of the...

Three Points, Two Races, One Decision

*Bernd Schneider (Vodafone AMG-Mercedes C-Class) needs three more points out of the final two races of the 2006 season in order to clinch his fifth DTM championship title.

*Prior to the ninth race of the season at Le Mans this coming weekend, Schneider leads the table with 62 points followed by Tom Kristensen (Audi) 18 points behind. In Le Mans and the season's final at Hockenheim two weeks later, a driver can score a maximum of 20 points.

*If both drivers are tied, the majority of race wins will count. Both Schneider and Kristensen won two races each so far this year; Schneider at Hockenheim and at the Lausitzring, Kristensen at Oschersleben and Zandvoort.

*Bruno Spengler (DaimlerChrysler Bank AMG-Mercedes C-Class) is third overall with 43 points; he is one point behind Kristensen.

Statistics: Bernd Schneider has good memories of France. When the DTM/ITC first came to the French circuit of Magny-Cours 11 years ago, on 8 October 1995, Bernd won both races and the ITC Championship title, his second title in a touring car. Three weeks before that, he had won the German Championship. One year later, Alfa Romeo driver Alessandro Nannini won both ITC races at Magny-Cours. In that event, Dario Franchitti was the best Mercedes-Benz driver coming home sixth and fourth respectively. Bernd retired from the first race and ended up eighth in the second one.

50: The race in Le Mans will be the 50th DTM race for Jean Alesi (stern AMG-Mercedes C-Class). Since his debut in the series in 2002, Jean has won on four occasions and achieved two pole positions. Also Stefan Mücke (TV Spielfilm AMG-Mercedes C-Class) will start into his 50th DTM race at Le Mans. Fourth place at the Norisring this year was the best result for the German so far.

The new weight distribution: 2006 AMG-Mercedes C-Class (Schneider, Green, Häkkinen, Spengler): 1,070 kilograms; 2006 Audi A4 DTM: 1,070 kilograms; 2005 AMG-Mercedes C-Class of Jean Alesi, Daniel la Rosa, Alexandros Margaritis, Stefan Mücke: 1,060 kilograms; 2004 cars like the AMG-Mercedes C-Class of Mathias Lauda and Susie Stoddart: 1,020 kilograms.

Comments from the Mercedes-Benz drivers, in the order of the result from the Barcelona race:

Bernd Schneider, start number 2 (Vodafone AMG-Mercedes C-Class, second): "My 18-point advantage is good; however, nothing is decided yet. I still need to score another three points. My team and I remain focused and we will give it our all again at Le Mans."

Bruno Spengler, start number 9 (DaimlerChrysler Bank AMG-Mercedes C-Class, fifth): "I like the circuit at Le Mans. In 2003, I achieved a third place here in the Formula 3 Euro Series, but with the DTM car, it will be my first time at this track. If I manage to be at the front in qualifying, I will have a chance of winning -- and then I will take advantage of this opportunity."

Daniel la Rosa, start number 18 (TrekStor AMG-Mercedes C-Class, seventh): "In the Renault World Series here last year I finished second. This and my good result in Barcelona will motivate me to end up in the points positions again."

Alexandros Margaritis, start number 11 (EasyRent AMG-Mercedes C-Class, eighth): "At Le Mans I want to continue my upward trend. If I manage to score points again I will be in a good position to end the season in the Top-Ten."

Mika Häkkinen, start number 8 (AMG-Mercedes C-Class, 11th): "I have been on that track once in 1988, I would not say that I know the track very well as I suppose the circuit has had some changes since then, but I look forward to this race at a traditional and historical venue like Le Mans. The circuit will be quite demanding and challenging for the drivers. I am well prepared and my target remains the same as always: the podium. The team is working really hard and we all deserve a good result as a reward in order to stop our latest misfortunes."

Stefan Mücke, start number 17 (TV Spielfilm AMG-Mercedes C-Class, 12th): "For my team and me, Le Mans is completely new and I look forward to another interesting weekend. After the disappointment in Barcelona I want to be back in the points positions."

Mathias Lauda, start number 21 (Second Hand AMG-Mercedes C-Class, 13th): "I don't know the track at all. It will be difficult to perform as well as in Barcelona, particularly to repeat the 10th place in qualifying, but I will try as hard as I can."

Jean Alesi, start number 10 (stern AMG-Mercedes C-Class, 14th): "This will be my first race on home soil since I made my DTM debut four and a half years ago. I really look forward to it and I want to show the French spectators some exciting fights and a good result."

Susie Stoddart, start number 22 (AutoScout24 AMG-Mercedes C-Class, 15th): "I have not driven in Le Mans before and I don't know what to expect. I want to perform better in qualifying than in the last events, and then I should have a chance for a better race result."

Jamie Green, start number 3 (Salzgitter AMG-Mercedes C-Class, retired after being involved in an incident after the start without his own fault): "In this season so far, I did not achieve what I had planned. I hope for an uneventful weekend at Le Mans and to end up at the front in the race."

Norbert Haug, Vice President Mercedes-Benz Motorsport: "The penultimate race of the 2006 DTM will be held at a traditional venue -- Le Mans, the circuit with the longest motor sport history in Europe. Instead of the classic endurance circuit, the DTM will use the shorter Circuit Bugatti. There are only a few experiences with DTM touring cars; a fact, which is the basis for an exciting race."

"Our target for Le Mans will be to take another step towards the title win, or in an ideal case, to clinch it already. Despite the fact that Bernd Schneider needs only three more points out of the two remaining races, we are still aware that anything is possible in the DTM at all times. Therefore, a Mercedes-Benz victory at Le Mans would be the best solution for us, and that is what we aim for."

-credit: mercedes

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Series DTM
Drivers Jean Alesi , Mika Hakkinen , Tom Kristensen , Dario Franchitti , Bernd Schneider , Norbert Haug , Alessandro Nannini , Bruno Spengler , Alexandros Margaritis , Mathias Lauda , Stefan Mücke , Daniel la Rosa , Jamie Green