DTM

Spa: Friday practices report

Opel pairing the quickest in test one In this weekend's first DTM test at Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Opel succeeded in securing a one-two. On Friday morning, Manuel Reuter set the fastest lap time at the 6.973-kilometre circuit, with his ...

Opel pairing the quickest in test one

In this weekend's first DTM test at Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Opel succeeded in securing a one-two. On Friday morning, Manuel Reuter set the fastest lap time at the 6.973-kilometre circuit, with his brand-mate, Laurent Aiello, finishing second.

Only in the closing minutes of the session, Reuter succeeded in setting the fastest lap time (2:13.658 minutes) behind the wheel of his Vectra GTS V8, thus outclassing his brand-mate, Aiello, by more than six tenths of a second, with Audi's Tom Kristensen taking third place.

While Jean Alesi, the fastest of the AMG-Mercedes C-Class drivers, had to settle for seventh position in spite of having been the leader for quite a while.

Thanks to Heinz-Harald Frentzen finishing sixth and Marcel Fässler seventh, all the four Opel drivers made it to the top ten. Opel Motorsport Director Volker Strycek was happy with the result, yet, he claimed that it was far too early to use this result as a hint regarding the course of the weekend.

"We have seen that we can do clearly better. We have tested for an entire day, at Hockenheim, we have found quite a lot - and now we want to make use of what we've found."

The session had to be red-flagged for ten minutes due to an off-track experience of Christian Abt (Audi). The driver from Kempten was just chasing through Eau Rouge when the right rear suspension of his Audi A4 DTM broke. "Suddenly, the car handled extremely nervously and I thought I had suffered a puncture," said Abt later. "But then I saw the smoke and decided to slowly cruise back to the pits."

But only when Abt had returned to the pits, the extent of the damage became obvious. The tyre had rubbed on the Audi's body, thus setting the rear on fire. The team is just working flat out on repairing the car and hopes to have it ready to go at halftime of the second test session.

For a long time, Jean Alesi had held the top position on the time sheets, but at the end of the day he had to settle for seventh place, with his fastest lap time being 1.270 seconds slower than the one of Opel's Manuel Reuter. Bernd Schneider finished eighth, directly behind Alesi, and Mika Häkkinen came ninth. While Alex Margaritis, the fastest driver of a 2004 spec car, took eleventh place.

Mercedes-Benz strikes back in session two

The second test on Friday was clearly dominated by Mercedes-Benz. At the end of the 90-minute session, six of the eight AMG-Mercedes C-Classes had made it to the top six. And once again, the session ended with a one-two for one manufacturer, with Jamie Green setting not only the fastest lap of the session alone but also of the entire day and Lausitz winner Gary Paffet coming second, 0.263 seconds behind his brand-mate. B

ehind the wheel of his Opel Vectra GTS V8, Marcel Fässler secured third place and Frank Stippler with his 2004 spec Audi A4 DTM was the fastest Audi driver on sixth place.

In the second test session, two of the Opels made it to the top ten: Marcel Fässler (third) and Laurent Aiello, who finished tenth. Manuel Reuter, the fastest man of the morning session, came 12th, in test session two, and Heinz-Harald Frentzen had to settle for 15th position. The afternoon session took place in mixed conditions, and apart from Fässler, the Opel drivers took it easy and did without improving their morning times.

Five 2005 spec AMG-Mercedes C-Classes made it to the overall rankings' top ten. In addition to the leaders - Jamie Green and Gary Paffet - Mika Häkkinen, Jean Alesi and Bernd Schneider secured fourth, fifth and seventh positions respectively, with Franco-Canadian Bruno Spengler in his 2004 spec AMG-Mercedes C-Class being the sixth Mercedes driver to secure a top-ten result.

Reigning DTM Champion Mattias Ekström was the fastest Audi driver, in session two. At the end of the 90-minute session, he finished ninth, 1.227 seconds behind the quickest, while Tom Kristensen (eleventh) was another five tenths of a second slower.

Christian Abt couldn't join the test action as the reparation works on his car are not yet finished. Team Manager Ralf Jüttner explained that some parts of the car's rear have to be worked on manually, but that you may expect Abt's car to be ready to go in time for Saturday's free practice session (from 10:25 hrs CET, 09:25hrs GMT).

Just as it was the case in the first test session, session two also had to be red flagged for several minutes. This time, the disruption was caused by some sharp-edged Kevlar parts lying on the track at the entrance of the spectacular 'Eau Rouge'. To avoid punctures in this high-speed section, the track had to be cleaned before the session could be restarted.

-dtm-

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Series DTM
Drivers Heinz-Harald Frentzen , Jean Alesi , Tom Kristensen , Laurent Aiello , Marcel Fassler , Bernd Schneider , Manuel Reuter , Christian Abt , Mattias Ekström , Volker Strycek , Bruno Spengler , Frank Stippler , Jamie Green