Nurburgring: Abt Sportsline race report

Laurent Aiello gets a step closer towards his dream of DTM title With second place at the Nürburgring, Abt driver Laurent Aiello has got a step closer towards his big dream of the championship title. In front of the excited record crowd of...

Laurent Aiello gets a step closer towards his dream of DTM title

With second place at the Nürburgring, Abt driver Laurent Aiello has got a step closer towards his big dream of the championship title. In front of the excited record crowd of 73,000 spectators, the points leader staged a fascinating fight over almost the entire race distance with pole-man Uwe Alzen and Bernd Schneider, demoted the defending champion to third at the finish and thus further extended his points lead. Youngster Martin Tomczyk also collected points with fifth place, Christian Abt, Mattias Ekström and Karl Wendlinger occupied ninth, tenth and twelfth place respectively.

A great crowd, duels within centimetres and a final that got the fans on the grand stands standing up from their seats -- the seventh round of the DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) presented touring car racing at its best. Main players were once again points leader Laurent Aiello as well as Mercedes-drivers Bernd Schneider and Uwe Alzen, who had started from pole position. After the halfway point, the three protagonists were separated by only a few seconds or even tenths. But Aiello defended his second place until the finish, after the leading trio came in for its mandatory pit stop on the same lap -- much to the joy of the spectators at the 'Ring and in front of the television screens

The other drivers of the racing team from the Allgäu caused furore at the Eifel track as well. First and foremost Martin Tomczyk, who already made up from 17th place on the grid to tenth during the eight laps' qualification race and was fourth on the first corner after the start of the main race. After a rather difficult start of the season and then coming good at the Lausitzring, the only 20-year old driver from Rosenheim collected further points for fifth place.

Christian Abt was also clearly on course for the podium. The 1999 STW champion promoted himself from fifth to third place with a perfect start in the main race, but didn't get beyond ninth place after a stop-and-go penalty. Mattias Ekström showed a great overtaking race from last on the grid. After a few laps already, the Swede had made it to twelfth before a collision made him drop back again. Nevertheless, Ekström defended his third place in the championship. Karl Wendlinger completed the strong team performance with twelfth place. In the qualification race, the Austrian charged from tenth to sixth place, but dropped back after a spin. Another car had put dirt on the track in an excursion, by which team-mate Mattias Ekström became affected as well.

The pit stops also were a major factor for the team success at the Nürburgring: since last race at the Lausitzring, the Abt Sportsline crew had been practicing the tyre change almost every day, analysing and improving every move by video. The boys from Kempten claimed the reward at the Nürburgring, setting the three fastest pit stop times and getting their drivers back on the track with perfect changes.

Before the eighth of the total of ten rounds, taking place at the A1-Ring in five week's time, Laurent Aiello has a 24 points' advantage over reigning champion Bernd Schneider and thus the first matchball in Austria: when Aiello claims two points more than Mercedes-driver Schneider there, the dream of the title comes true for the team from the Allgäu.

Quotes after the race

Laurent Aiello (2nd place/2nd place):

"Mercedes is pushing massively and gets stronger and stronger. I had Bernd behind me throughout, but I knew exactly, what it was about and I kept on fighting till the end. After the start, I could hardly believe it when I saw two yellow Audis in my rearview mirror. Now, I will not think about calculating possible championship situations, but just keep on concentrating on the next race."

Martin Tomczyk (10th place/5th place):

"My start in the main race was just perfect: I was at the right, at the left and in the middle, and after the first corner, I was already fourth. I had a perfect car, could keep the pace without any problems and keep Marcel Fässler and Bernd Schneider easily behind me. I am happy with the two points and I will try scoring even more in Austria."

Christian Abt (5th place/9th place):

"I had a very good start into the main race and at the end of the straight, I was alongside Bernd Schneider. In the corner, we had slight contact, but that was just a normal racing action. Unfortunately, I then crossed the white line coming out on the track after my excellent pit stop, that was my own mistake, for which I got punished."

Mattias Ekström (16th place/10th place):

"I had to fight very hard throughout the race to make it from the back to the front. Unfortunately, I spun after a collision in the qualification race and I had to start almost from the very back again. Today, it really was an exciting affair at the Nürburgring and in fact, I would have liked to score a point."

Karl Wendlinger (6th place/12th place):

"The qualification Race was excellent, as I could already make up four places during the eight laps. In the main race, I unfortunately spun on sand that was on the track. Nevertheless, today was good for my self-confidence -- now, I am looking forward to my home race at the A1-Ring in five weeks' time."

Hans-Jürgen Abt (team boss):

"That was a sensational race, especially when you consider that with the current championship situation, tactics are playing a major role, too. I am very proud of my team: after the not so successful pit stop at the Lausitzring, the team has been practicing really hard for three weeks and today completed three quick tyre changes. This competitive spirit is significant for us and has brought us to the top in the DTM."


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Series DTM
Drivers Karl Wendlinger , Laurent Aiello , Marcel Fassler , Martin Tomczyk , Bernd Schneider , Uwe Alzen , Christian Abt , Mattias Ekström , Hans-Jurgen Abt