Aiello ahead of Schneider and Menu: all three makes on the podium In front of a capacity crowd at the Sachsenring, with a total of 59,000 spectators at the week-end, Laurent Aiello (Abt-Audi TT-R) celebrated his third victory of the season at...
Aiello ahead of Schneider and Menu: all three makes on the podium
In front of a capacity crowd at the Sachsenring, with a total of 59,000 spectators at the week-end, Laurent Aiello (Abt-Audi TT-R) celebrated his third victory of the season at the fourth round of the DTM. Reigning champion Bernd Schneider (Mercedes-Benz CLK-DTM) claimed second place in an action-packed race, while Swiss Alain Menu (Opel Astra V8 Coupé) scored the first podium finish of the season for Opel. Thus, all three makes were on the podium for the first time this year. With his success at the traditional track near Chemnitz, Laurent Aiello extended his points lead in the driver's classification to 38 points. He benefited from the fact that his closest rivals Jean Alesi (Mercedes-Benz) and Mattias Ekström (Abt-Audi) didn't make it into the top six.
For Aiello, who didn't score any points in the race at Donington Park a fortnight ago, the week-end at the Sachsenring was nearly perfect. In qualifying, the Frenchman had already claimed pole-position and on race day, he won both the nine lap qualification race and the consecutive main race (29 laps), both in bright sunshine.
"Today, everything went as planned. My team has provided me with an excellently prepared Abt-Audi TT-R, the pit stop was faultless and I think that we showed some good motor racing," the Frenchman said. "At the end, I had to push a little more than I wanted, because Bernd came too close, but meanwhile, I had to be careful not to be too hard on the tyres"
For the best part of the race, his team mates Martin Tomczyk and Christian Abt were also in the top ten, but they both retired: Tomczyk after a collision with Donington-winner Alesi while leaving the pit lane, Abt after an excursion in the closing stages of the race.
There was joy at Opel after the first podium finish of the year.
"The potential of our Astra V8 Coupé already showed on many occasions this year, but so far, we had a lot of bad luck," said Opel motorsport director Volker Strycek. "Third place for Alain Menu is a deserved success, three Opel-drivers in the points are a very good result for Opel. Joachim Winkelhock and Timo Scheider have been driving a great race, Michael Bartels has driven the fastest race lap. We will continue like this: Opel is back."
Menu himself, started from second place and placed second behind Aiello in the qualification race, was delighted with his first points in the DTM: "I am happy for my team, for Opel and for myself." Until just before the end, Joachim Winkelhock managed to keep Mercedes-Benz-driver Marcel Fässler behind him, but then braked a little too late and Fässler went past. Winkelhock came home in fifth position, one place ahead of his fellow Opel-driver Timo Scheider.
A perfectly executed pit stop by his HWA-team brought Bernd Schneider, who had started third, to second place ahead of Menu. "The race was very hard," said Schneider. "Not just for me, but also on the car. We have given everything and we were at the limit with everything. Maybe, I could have attacked a little more, but then perhaps I would have ruined my tyres and lost my second place."
Mercedes-Benz-motorsport director Norbert Haug: "Too bad, that Alesi was pushed out of the race. But certainly, it wasn't on purpose. Marcel Fässler has done a great job, driving behind Jo, waiting for his chance and then making clever use of it."
In the action Fässler had claimed fourth place.