Bernd Schneider put Mercedes-Benz back on top in Barcelona DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) qualifying, taking the first pole for the Stuttgart marque in four races -- and the first one for Schneider himself in over three years. Timo Scheider...
Bernd Schneider put Mercedes-Benz back on top in Barcelona DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) qualifying, taking the first pole for the Stuttgart marque in four races -- and the first one for Schneider himself in over three years.
Timo Scheider looked to have taken his second pole in a row for Audi, with a lap of 1:07.279, but Schneider beat his time by three hundredths of a second -- with a lap of 1:07.248 -- just as the chequered flag came out to end the final qualifying segment.
"Today's pole wasn't necessarily what people could expect from me," Schneider mused after setting his fast lap. "It's the first time since Zandvoort in 2005 for me to be starting from first place again. It has always been clear to me that I would make it back on pole one day, but I was a bit surprised myself that it happened here."
And while it has been a long time since Schneider started at the front of the field, it is a remarkable 25th career pole position for the German veteran, who has been competing in DTM since 1992.
While Scheider would have preferred to take another pole-position start, the critical goal for the Audi ace was to ensure that he start ahead of his championship rivals.
"Congratulations to Bernd, who is always a driver to be reckoned with," Scheider said, adding with a smile on his face: "I hope that the journalists don't forget the decisive 'n' in his name, because Bernd really has deserved pole today! Fortunately, it is Bernd who is in front of me and my main rivals who are behind me.
With only three races, including tomorrow's main event, left on the schedule, Scheider is nine points ahead of Mercedes drivers Paul di Resta and Jamie Green, and ten ahead of his own teammate, Mattias Ekstrom. The trio start third, fifth and sixth -- not far from Scheider, but still behind him.
Di Resta matched -- and beat -- Scheider's speed in qualifying, but he peaked too soon, setting his fastest time of the day in the second segment. He finished the final segment 0.026 seconds adrift of the German, but will be hoping that his race pace is enough to keep up and pass Scheider tomorrow.
"Third place on the grid is all right," di Resta grimaced. "However, it is annoying that I set the fastest lap time of the day, but unfortunately, I did so in the second heat, which doesn't decide on the final grid positions. In the third session, I just didn't manage an absolutely faultless lap. I am sorry for the team, because they prepared my car at its best, but I am a little more than a tenth behind Bernd's pole time."
Martin Tomczyk, out of the championship battle like Schneider, took fourth on the grid, four hundredths of a second behind di Resta, and an equal amount ahead of Green, splitting the two Mercedes challengers with his Audi. Ekstrom was another two hundredths off the pace with the third of the Audis.
Behind the battle for the front of the grid, Tom Kristensen was frustrated by Gary Paffett's driving, feeling that the Briton blocked his fast laps and prevented him from proceeding to the final qualifying segment. The two later tangled in the pit lane, earning Kristensen a 10-position grid demotion.
Meanwhile, Ralf Schumacher was fined 1000 euros for passing Christijan Albers on the right in the pit lane. However, in this case, the stewards did not assign a grid penalty.