DTM

N?rburgring: Mercedes race report

Christijan Albers (ExpressService AMG-Mercedes) won the third round of the 2003 DTM at the Nürburgring. Marcel Fässler (AMG-Mercedes) came home second ahead of Laurent Aiello (Abt-Audi TT-R), Bernd Schneider (Vodafone AMG-Mercedes) and Peter ...

Christijan Albers (ExpressService AMG-Mercedes) won the third round of the 2003 DTM at the Nürburgring. Marcel Fässler (AMG-Mercedes) came home second ahead of Laurent Aiello (Abt-Audi TT-R), Bernd Schneider (Vodafone AMG-Mercedes) and Peter Dumbreck (Opel Astra V8 Coupé).

The DTM shows its international profile: six drivers of six nations and all three brands are now within the top-six of the overall ranking. It was Christijan's second DTM win and his second within two weeks after he had won the last race in Italy. The 24-year-old Dutchman leads the Drivers' Championship with 24 points ahead of Fässler (26) and Schneider (19).

Mattias Ekström (Abt-Audi TT-R) took the lead at the start, passing Albers and pole sitter Fässler. Braking into the Mercedes-Arena, Albers was hit from behind by Martin Tomczyk (Abt-Audi TT-R) and dropped to third. On the first lap, Schneider and Dumbreck came together in front of the chicane, Bernd dropped from seventh to tenth place. The Safety Car was deployed from lap 3 to 5 whilst the track was cleaned. After all drivers had made their first compulsory pit stops up to lap 13, Fässler was in the lead ahead of Albers and Alain Menu (Opel Astra V8 Coupé).

Albers passed Fässler on lap 16 when the Swiss made a mistake under braking. The Dutchman led for all but one of the remaining laps and pitted the second time on lap 25. Schneider made his second stop on lap 22 whilst Fässler came in on lap 26. Behind the Swiss, Schneider fought for third place with Aiello and passed the Frenchman at the beginning of lap 28, but Aiello fought back on the same lap. After 41 laps, Albers won 7.954sec ahead of Fässler, Aiello and Schneider.

Vodafone AMG-Mercedes, Bernd Schneider:

"Under these circumstances I'm quite satisfied with my fourth place. Unfortunately it was an extremely hard race, which you can see from the numerous damages on my car. The coming-together with Peter Dumbreck cost me a podium finish. I was beside him when he pulled to the left in front of the chicane. My fight with Aiello was a highlight. It was fun and really fair. Congratulations to Christijan."

ExpressService AMG-Mercedes, Christijan Albers:

I'm really happy about my second consecutive DTM win. My start was not so good. After being hit by Tomczyk I worried about my car, but fortunately the damage at the rear didn't influence the handling. The fight with Marcel was fun and once I had passed him it was all about saving tyres and I managed to do so perfectly."

AMG-Mercedes, Marcel Fässler:

"I made a poor start, but was able to close the gap to the front again. My pitstops were really fast and therefore I was able to take the lead. Later in the race, my rear tyres faded and I couldn't go Christijan's pace."

Jean Alesi was involved in an incident on lap 9 which pushed him into another car. The Frenchman came into the pits and retired due to the damaged front undertray. "The hard attacks of some drivers are not OK. I hope this will change in the future," he said.

Original-Teile AMG-Mercedes, Thomas Jäger was 12th and best driver with a last year's model of the AMG-Mercedes CLK. Bernd Mayländer came home 17th. ARTA AMG-Mercedes, Katsutomo Kaneishi finished 19th. Service 24 h AMG-Mercedes driver Stefan Mücke finished 15th. Gary Paffett's DTM debut ended on lap 2 after he was hit by another driver and retired in the pits with a damaged car.

Norbert Haug, Vice President Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:

"Christijan and Marcel performed excellently. The spectators here at the Nürburgring and in front of the TV saw an exciting race. Bernd Schneider did a good job in difficult conditions. Unfortunately, the misunderstanding with Peter Dumbreck cost both drivers a top finish. The field is close together in the overall ranking - the gap from first to sixth is 14 points."

-mercedes-

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Series DTM
Drivers Jean Alesi , Laurent Aiello , Marcel Fassler , Peter Dumbreck , Martin Tomczyk , Bernd Schneider , Christijan Albers , Norbert Haug , Mattias Ekström , Thomas Jäger , Gary Paffett , Kaneishi Katsutomo , Stefan Mücke , Alain Menu