Aiello and Schneider show world-class sport at the Norisring Breath-taking and highly dramatic: that was the duel between points leader Laurent Aiello (Abt-Audi TT-R) and reigning champion Bernd Schneider (Mercedes-Benz CLK-DTM) during the fifth...
Aiello and Schneider show world-class sport at the Norisring
Breath-taking and highly dramatic: that was the duel between points leader Laurent Aiello (Abt-Audi TT-R) and reigning champion Bernd Schneider (Mercedes-Benz CLK-DTM) during the fifth round of the DTM at the Norisring in Nuremberg. From the halfway point of the 101.2 km long race, the two world-class drivers were only millimetres apart. Schneider was in the lead, Aiello could close the gap a few times and even was in front for a while, but Schneider retained the lead.
On the final corner of the final lap on the 2.3 km long track, Schneider left the door open, Aiello went past and crossed the finish line with a margin of 0.1 seconds. "Normally, I don't let anybody take victory away from me on the final corner," said Schneider. "But I saw a yellow flag and I backed off." Bad luck for the three-times DTM champion: there were indeed yellow flags after a collision, but the marshal had just withdrawn the yellow flag as Schneider and Aiello went past him at the Dutzendteich corner. Thus, Aiello was able to claim his fourth victory in the fifth race.
In front of sold-out grand stands with a total crowd of 126,000 spectators during the week-end, Swede Mattias Ekström (Abt-Audi TT-R) came third after having won the qualification race earlier on. With the remarkable margin of 25 points, Frenchman Aiello is now travelling to the next DTM-round at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz in a fortnight (July 12-14) as the halftime champion. Ekström is now second in the championship with 23 points, Schneider occupies third place with 21 points.
"I was highly concentrated and wound up the whole time," said Aiello. "I waited for Bernd to make a mistake and couldn't lose one inch to him. It was quite demanding, as Bernd drove sensationally apart from the situation on the final corner. I would like to thank him for his fairness, that was really impressive."
The reigning champion was enthusiastic as well. "That was one of the nicest races of my career," he said. "I almost didn't care what the final result would be, because it was incredibly fair and great fun."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes-Benz motorsport director, praised: "Bernd and Laurent have shown great sport, an absolutely impressive performance. I remember no race at the Norisring during which the fight for the lead was so exciting. Not only do we have two drivers who are the winners, the entire DTM has won as well."
Three-times Norisring winner Joachim Winkelhock was innocently pushed out of the race while in fifth place, when Thomas Jäger (Mercedes-Benz) tried to outbrake him, then missed his braking point and drove into the car of the Swabian Opel-driver. Earlier on, Winkelhock's fellow Opel-driver Timo Scheider had been unfortunately involved in a collision at the start of the qualification race, which prevented him later from taking part in the main race.
"Apart from that," said Opel motorsport director Volker Strycek self-critical, "Our Astra V8 Coupés were just not fast enough today. The race was great and the best promotion for the DTM, unfortunately, we have not been playing the role we would have liked to play."