Le Mans: Mercedes race report

95 -- 2000 -- 01 -- 03 -- 06: Bernd Schneider Wins His Fifth DTM Championship at Le Mans 1-2 victory with Bruno Spengler ahead of Mika Häkkinen Five AMG-Mercedes C-Class cars finish in the points Bernd Schneider (Vodafone AMG-Mercedes...

95 -- 2000 -- 01 -- 03 -- 06: Bernd Schneider Wins His Fifth DTM Championship at Le Mans

1-2 victory with Bruno Spengler ahead of Mika Häkkinen
Five AMG-Mercedes C-Class cars finish in the points

Bernd Schneider (Vodafone AMG-Mercedes C-Class) is the 2006 DTM Champion. He finished fifth in the ninth and penultimate round of the 2006 DTM at Le Mans, after he had dropped to 16th and last position due to mayhem after the start. It is Schneider's fifth DTM Championship title after 1995, 2000, 2001 and 2003. Bruno Spengler (DaimlerChrysler Bank AMG-Mercedes C-Class) won the 39-lap race.

Mika Häkkinen (AMG-Mercedes C-Class) came home second 0.398sec behind and completed a 1-2 victory for Mercedes-Benz. With one race to go, Schneider leads the overall ranking with 66 points ahead of Spengler who improved to second place with 53 points. Audi's Tom Kristensen, who finished third today, is also third in the Championship with 50 points. The winner can score 10 points in the season finale at Hockenheim in two weeks.

Despite a drive-through penalty, Jamie Green (Salzgitter AMG-Mercedes C-Class) ended up sixth ahead of Alexandros Margartitis (EasyRent AMG-Mercedes) in a 2005 C-Class. 34,000 spectators attended the DTM debut at Le Mans during the weekend. Ergebnisse

For the second time in his DTM career and after the Nürburgring event, Spengler started from pole position. Häkkinen and Green had qualified third and fourth respectively and lined up on the second row. Spengler accelerated into an immediate lead followed by Green and Häkkinen. Margaritis dropped from sixth on the grid to eighth.

Schneider, whose qualifying result had first been affected by traffic and then by a mistake under braking, started ninth. He was hit in a first-corner mayhem and dropped to 16th. Mathias Lauda was involved in a collision after the start without his own fault and retired. The safety car was deployed from the second to the fourth lap.

After the restart on lap five, Schneider improved four positions. He was 12th when he came in for his first pitstop on lap six after which he resumed 15th. Afterwards he got stuck behind Pierre Kaffer (Audi) whom he passed on lap 11. Next time round Margaritis overtook Christian Abt (Audi) and was fourth.

The next pit stops: Green on lap eight; Margaritis on lap 20.

Spengler held the lead until lap 22 when he pitted for the first time whilst Green made his second stop on the same lap. Back on track again, Green was pushed off by Kristensen briefly. Then he had a coming-together with Frentzen and received a drive-through penalty.

After Häkkinen's first stop on lap 24 Spengler was back in the lead ahead of the Finn; Margaritis was third ahead of Schneider.

Green came in for his penalty on lap 27 and resumed in ninth position. One lap later, Spengler made his second stop with Häkkinen pitting for the second time one lap later. Consequently, Spengler had regained first place. Margaritis and Schneider came in for their respective second stops on lap 30.

Now all drivers had completed their pitstops. Spengler was the leader ahead of Häkkinen, Green was fifth ahead of Margaritis and Schneider. One lap later Schneider overtook Margaritis; on lap 36 he also passed Green and after 39 laps he crossed the finish line in fifth position.

Schneider has now finished in the points for 11 consecutive races; he won three out of these 11 races and ended up on the podium another six times. The last time he retired was at the Lausitzring in September 2005 when he had a damaged tyre after hitting debris on the track.

Bernd Schneider: "I am very excited about my fifth championship title; it is a really special one for me. This is a great day in my life. The race was not easy and I had some difficult fights. When I was pushed into the gravel on the first lap, I thought that I was not able to clinch the championship today. Therefore, I am even happier that I was able to make it on my own with fifth place. Congratulations to Bruno and Mika on their 1-2 victory. When we fight for the team title and the runner-up position in the drivers' ranking at Hockenheim in two weeks, we want to show the fans on sold-out grandstands an exciting great race."

Bruno Spengler: "I am happy about my third win this season. The race was not as easy as it might have looked like because Mika put pressure on me throughout. My good start played an important role for my success. I am now second overall and look forward to Hockenheim, where I want to maintain this position. Congratulations to Bernd on his title win."

Mika Häkkinen: "I am glad that I ended up on the podium again after a difficult season. Today everything worked out well and this shows how strong our team is. I thank everybody for their great job during the entire weekend. Well done, Bernd, you were top class!"

Jamie Green: "With a good start I managed to move up two positions and I charged through the traffic also after my first pitstop. After my second stop I was passed by Tom Kristensen and Heinz-Harald Frentzen and our cars tangled. After the drive-through penalty, my chances for a podium finish were gone. Congratulations Bernd, you are our champion in 2006."

Alexandros Margaritis: "The race was great. Our team and I did everything right today, our pitstops and strategy were perfect. Thanks to everybody for a super job."

Jean Alesi: "Right after the start I lost contact to the front runners. It was not a bad race; however, a better result was not possible."

Susie Stoddart: "I am satisfied with my race. I had some good fights and I am the best driver with a 2004 car."

Stefan Mücke: "At the start I stalled the engine and then I had to drive through the gravel at the first corner to avoid other cars. After my collision with an Audi we had to replace the bonnet and afterwards I was too far behind to score points."

Daniel la Rosa: "After the start I was able to avoid all collisions. After the restart, my power steering failed and I retired. It's a shame because a points finish would have been possible today."

Mathias Lauda: "This was my best start of the season and I moved up several positions. However, at the first corner Frank Stippler went off and when he came back onto the track he hit my car severely and I retired."

Norbert Haug, Vice President Mercedes-Benz Motorsport: "A great day for Bernd and our team. Congratulations to him and the entire HWA team with Gerhard Ungar and Hans-Jürgen Mattheis, everybody did an excellent job. The race was not as easy as it might have looked like. After the opening lap, Bernd was at the back of the field. He deserved to win the title and he is a worthy champion. We have always believed in him and in the 15 years of our co-operation, I have learnt to appreciate both his human and sportsmanlike qualities."

"Congratulations to Bruno Spengler and Mika Häkkinen who drove a fantastic race. Jamie Green finished sixth despite a drive-through penalty and Alexandros Margaritis finished in the points with his 2005 C-Class for the fifth time this year. Now we look forward to the great finale with a capacity crowd at Hockenheim in two weeks. Many Mercedes-Benz employees have bought tickets already long ago. There we want to clinch the teams' championship and to finish runner-up in the drivers' ranking with Bruno Spengler."

Bernd Schneider
Vodafone AMG-Mercedes C-Class 2006
Fifth and Champion

Bruno Spengler
DaimlerChrysler Bank AMG-Mercedes C-Class 2006

Mika Häkkinen
AMG-Mercedes C-Class 2006

Jamie Green
Salzgitter AMG-Mercedes C-Class 2006

Alexandros Margaritis
Easy Rent AMG-Mercedes C-Class 2005

Jean Alesi
stern AMG-Mercedes C-Class 2005

Susie Stoddart
AutoScout24 AMG-Mercedes C-Class 2004

Stefan Mücke
TV-Spielfilm AMG-Mercedes C-Class 2005

Daniel la Rosa
TrekStor AMG-Mercedes C-Class 2005
Retired due to power steering failure

Mathias Lauda
Second Hand AMG-Mercedes C-Class 2004
Retired after being involved in a start collision without his own fault

-credit: mercedes

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series DTM
Drivers Heinz-Harald Frentzen , Jean Alesi , Mika Hakkinen , Tom Kristensen , Bernd Schneider , Norbert Haug , Christian Abt , Bruno Spengler , Alexandros Margaritis , Pierre Kaffer , Mathias Lauda , Frank Stippler , Stefan Mücke , Daniel la Rosa , Jamie Green , Gerhard Ungar , Alexandros Marga