At the second visit of the season to the EuroSpeedway Lausitz Jamie Green took his maiden pole position in the DTM. In difficult conditions the Mercedes driver clocked a best of 1:17.489 in the super-pole qualifying, ahead of the Opels of ...
At the second visit of the season to the EuroSpeedway Lausitz Jamie Green took his maiden pole position in the DTM. In difficult conditions the Mercedes driver clocked a best of 1:17.489 in the super-pole qualifying, ahead of the Opels of Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Manuel Reuter in second and third respectively. Yes, you read that right!
As the Avignon round of the championship was called off, the series returned to Lausitz for a second race at the circuit. At the start of open qualifying the weather was tricky, a short downpour leaving the track very damp and a cool 15 degrees. Nobody was keen to get going but after 10 minutes the year-old Mercedes of Bruno Spengler ventured out.
Presumably it wasn't a very good idea as Spengler took a scenic wander round some of the cordoned off areas of the track then returned to the pits. The Opel of Marcel F?ssler was next to give it a go and he had a very cautious and rather slippery lap to clock 1:28.464. A dry line was appearing but there were still patches of water.
A few more cars took to the track and the year-old Audi of Christian Abt had little trip over the grass but managed to keep going. As the conditions improved the times started to rack up; Frank Stippler's year-old Audi, Reuter, the Audi of Martin Tomczyk and the Mercedes of Bernd Schneider all took a turn at the top.
With 10 minutes to go there were one or two drops of rain, which provoked a mad scramble to get out in case the weather turned again. The times were dropping and dropping, someone new on provisional pole practically every lap -- there were so many cars on track it looked like there was actually a race going on.
At the very end of the session Aiello posted 1:17.759 to secure provisional pole and Opel boss Volker Strycek looked like he was about to spontaneously combust. Frentzen and Reuter were fifth and 10th respectively so three cars in the super-pole was certainly a reasonable excuse for Strycek to be happy. F?ssler lost out and finished 14th.
Defending champion Mattias Ekstr?m put his Audi second, less than a tenth off Aiello, followed by the Mercedes of Mika H?kkinen. Ekstr?m's title rival Gary Paffett also made the super-pole, his Mercedes fourth. Tomczyk clocked sixth and the year-old Audi of Rinaldo Capello was seventh. Green was eighth, then came the Audi of Tom Kristensen.
The big names of Jean Alesi and Schneider never made the top ten, the Mercedes men 11th and 16th. For the super-pole the conditions had improved but although the sun was out, the black clouds were still looming ominously. The track had dried sufficiently for dry tyres to be the choice for the individually timed laps.
Reuter started the proceedings with a 1:18.106 and Kristensen was a couple of tenths behind after a slight mistake in the middle sector. Green was out third and was six tenths up to clock 1:17.489, two and half tenths up on Aiello's provisional pole time. Capello had a very ragged lap, the rear of the car sliding a lot, and was over a second and a half off the pace.
Tomczyk was nearly a second off Green, the Audis not really hooking up round this circuit. Frentzen had a good lap, just under two tenths off the leader to slot into second. Paffett had a poor first sector that eventually left him seventh, just under nine tenths down. H?kkinen was better, despite a slight run wide, and posted fourth.
There were spots of rain again as Ekstr?m went out for his flyer and he had a bit of a sideways slide through the chicane, but recovered to clock fifth. Aiello was the last man out and made an error right at the start of his lap; after that the Opel seemed twitchy and he finished ninth, over a second off Green. To add insult to injury he spun on his in lap.
So Green claimed his first DTM pole position and while Opel lost out with Aiello, Frentzen and Reuter were a pleasant surprise. H?kkinen and Ekstr?m held their fourth and fifth positions, while Kristensen finished sixth. Paffett wasn't too pleased with seventh, nor Tomczyk and Aiello with eighth and ninth, although Capello, 10th, was happy just to be in the super-pole.
"I'm really happy about my first DTM pole position," said Green. "This track obviously suits me as I was second on the grid here in May. My lap was not perfect; because I had some oversteer in the last sector. However, the car's overall set-up was very good and I thank everybody in the team for their good job."
Frentzen had not expected to be on the front row. "Second position on the grid is a surprise," he commented. "My lap wasn't perfect, hence, I wasn't sure if it would be good enough for a top-five position. Yet, other than expected, the drying track didn't allow for clearly faster lap times. We've got a promising initial position for tomorrow's race and a podium finish seems possible."
Reuter confirmed Opel's competitiveness with third. "To improve from tenth to third position is a nice result," he said. "Everybody expected the grip level to improve but it didn't happen. Second and third grid positions represent a promising initial position for us. Today, Opel proved that the recent weeks' upward trend continues."
It was an interesting qualifying; Lausitz is generally thought of as a Mercedes circuit but they didn't seem terribly happy, apart from Green, of course. Audi was equally unsettled -- really the only marque that looked like the track suited the cars was the Opels. But, with more rain forecast for Sunday, it remains to be seen if that will be the case in the race.