Le Mans: Spengler snatches pole

Spengler beats Kristensen to pole, title race remains open Another exciting qualifying session for the ninth and penultimate season round of the DTM at the 4.180 kilometres long Circuit Bugatti in Le Mans saw Franco-Canadian Bruno Spengler claim...

Spengler beats Kristensen to pole, title race remains open

Another exciting qualifying session for the ninth and penultimate season round of the DTM at the 4.180 kilometres long Circuit Bugatti in Le Mans saw Franco-Canadian Bruno Spengler claim his second pole-position of the season with his AMG-Mercedes C-Class. A lap time of 1.30.486 seconds was enough for Spengler to beat Danish Audi-driver Tom Kristensen to the pole-position. Only 0.032 seconds down, Kristensen, seven times' winner of the Le Mans 24 Hours, had to make do with second place with two times' Formula 1 world champion Mika Häkkinen third for Mercedes-Benz.

This promises a very exciting race tomorrow as points leader Bernd Schneider (Vodafone-AMG-Mercedes C-Class) only qualified ninth - his worst qualifying result since Eurospeedway Lausitz 2005, while Kristensen did everything to keep his chances in the title race, where he is trailing Schneider by 18 points.

Bruno Spengler was delighted with his second pole-position of his DTM career after the Nürburgring DTM round in August. "I knew I had another lap just before the session was over. I decided to go for it once again and fortunately, I had a clear lap and I made it to pole-position again."

Tom Kristensen said: "It is good to be on the front row for tomorrow's race, although it is hard to lose out on pole-position in the closing stages of the session, but that is what it is like in the DTM. At least, this situation is good for the championship."

Jamie Green qualified fourth with his AMG Mercedes-Benz C-Class while Kristensen's fellow-Audi-driver Christian Abt was the best-placed driver with year-old machinery in fifth place. He was followed by Alexandros Margaritis (EasyRent-AMG-Mercedes C-Class) and Pierre Kaffer (Castrol-Audi A4 DTM) in sixth and seventh place respectively, who also made it into the third and final shout-out heat with 2005-spec cars. Martin Tomczyk, who won the most recent race at the Nürburgring, qualified eighth with his Audi A4 DTM.

For points leader Bernd Schneider, qualifying was over after the second session. A lap time of 1.31.209 minutes meant that the four times' DTM champion didn't make it through into the final heat for the first time this season. The other former DTM champion in the field, Mattias Ekström, didn't make it through either. "I had too much understeer on my flying lap and when it is so close, you are out when you have the slightest problem", the Swede commented.

To the disappointment of the French fans, ex-Formula 1-star Jean Alesi failed to make it through after the first 14 minutes' session. "I feel really sorry for my fans, but this was all I could do. Hopefully, it will be better in the race tomorrow."

Bruno Spengler (1st place, DaimlerChrysler Bank AMG-Mercedes): "I had a great qualifying session and it was really fun. On my final lap, I gave everything as Tom was really quick over here. I am very happy with my second pole-position of the season, it can go on like this tomorrow!"

Tom Kristensen (2nd place, Audi Sport Team Abt): "At the end, Bruno has really done a great lap. Of course, losing out on pole-position at the end like that is a little bit disappointing, but it still is a good position to start from for tomorrow. I am sure that it will be an interesting race. I don't feel too sorry for Bernd that he is only ninth..."

Mika Häkkinen (3rd place, Vodafone AMG-Mercedes): "The spectators have seen a good and exciting qualifying session. Today, I could have done better, I could have been even on pole. Tomorrow, I will do everything to turn today's potential pole into a race victory."

Mercedes-Benz motor sport director Norbert Haug: "It was an extremely exciting qualifying session, it was really close. First of all, Tom Kristensen set a very good time. It is great that Bruno Spengler then was even faster. Of course, it is not too good that Bernd Schneider didn't make it into the third session and that he will only be ninth on the grid tomorrow. But anyone who knows him, also knows that he is a fighter and that he has already made it to the front after a bad qualifying result this year. Racing at Le Mans with the DTM is great. Le Mans is one of the circuits with the longest history in Europe."

Audi motor sport director Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich: "We have seen an exciting session. Audi has two new cars and two year-old cars in the top eight. I am happy with this result, even when Bruno Spengler is in front. Mattias Ekström wasn't happy with his car and therefore couldn't get it right. Martin Tomczyk did especially well as he still had to cope with a dented nerve in his neck yesterday and surely wasn't totally fit. All in all, this is a track that can stage a very exciting race for tomorrow when everything is fair."

-credit: dtm

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Series DTM
Drivers Jean Alesi , Mika Hakkinen , Tom Kristensen , Martin Tomczyk , Bernd Schneider , Norbert Haug , Christian Abt , Mattias Ekström , Bruno Spengler , Alexandros Margaritis , Pierre Kaffer , Jamie Green
Teams Team Abt