The race at the ninth and penultimate round of the 2003 DTM at the Circuit Park Zandvoort/NL was marked by some dramatic situations. The crowd favourite Christijan Albers from The Netherlands won the race with his AMG-Mercedes CLK in front of a ...
The race at the ninth and penultimate round of the 2003 DTM at the Circuit Park Zandvoort/NL was marked by some dramatic situations. The crowd favourite Christijan Albers from The Netherlands won the race with his AMG-Mercedes CLK in front of a record attendance of 62,000 spectators during the race weekend. His fellow Mercedes-Benz-driver Bernd Schneider claimed second place, while last year's winner Mattias Ekström occupied the final podium slot.
Manuel Reuter came home fourth with the Opel Astra V8 Coupé. The first half of the race was marked by the breath-taking battle between the two 24-year old young stars of Opel and Mercedes-Benz, Timo Scheider with the Opel Astra V8 Coupé and Albers with the CLK-Coupé. With an impeccable start, Scheider had taken the lead, Albers followed him over half the race distance like a shadow, only half a second behind him.
The decision fell during the pit stop on the 20th of 36 race laps: Albers came in first to have new tyres put on and for refuelling, Scheider came in one lap later. By the effort of the team to support the Opel-youngster in his battle for the lead, a mistake was made: Scheider drove off with a loose right front wheel and stopped alongside the track after a few metres, highly disappointed.
Winner Albers: "I am overjoyed with winning my home race"
"It is hard to describe the feelings that I had during my cooling-down lap, race winner Christijan Albers said. "When you look out of the car and you are being cheered by thousands of people, it sends shivers down your spine. It is just great. Winning right here at Zandvoort in front of my home crowd means an incredible lot to me."
Deep satisfaction also for points leader Bernd Schneider: "Basically, I owe today's second place to my team, that had a perfect strategy that worked out perfectly. After my problems on Friday and in qualifying, my team has given me a perfect car for the race and got me up to the front with sensational pit stops." The three times' champion is looking forward to the final: "Hockenheim is my home round, I really like the track and I know every single corner there like my back yard."
Mercedes-Benz Motorsport-director Norbert Haug praised: "It was a well deserved victory for Christijan and a great effort by the team and by Bernd. Going into the final at Hockenheim knowing that we have won the title is a great feeling. It is now down to Christijan and Bernd to decide the championship between them."
Timo Scheider (Opel): "Retiring while in the lead is very hard"
24-year old Timo Scheider, otherwise known as an optimistic and cheerful person, had tears in his eyes. He had been driving the race of his life, had kept Albers behind him for more than half of the race and then that: a mistake by the team during the tyre change, the end of the dreams about the first DTM-win after his maiden DTM-pole-position in yesterday's qualifying.
"Retiring while in the lead is very hard. Basically, the fact that my team has always been among the best in pit stops throughout the season is making it even more dramatic", the sympathetic Opel-youngster said. "On the other hand, we have shown today as the entire Opel-team that we are able to win a race. We have been the strongest make at Zandvoort throughout the weekend, and that gives me courage and energy for the final in a fortnight."
Fourth-placed Manuel Reuter also said: "We will keep on fighting until the final lap." Opel Motorsport-director Volker Strycek summed up: "From my point of view, the hero of the day is Timo Scheider. He was setting the pace and controlled the race. Alain Menu was running in a fine and safe third place as he was hit by another driver that put an end to his race."
Mattias Ekström (Abt-Audi): "As the dust settled, I was third"
Swede Mattias Ekström, 24 years old like Albers and Scheider, also had a dramatic race, albeit with a positive result in third place. At the start, he was held up extremely and then caught up from 14th place to the front. "The battles were fun, but they were quite hard, too, as the track is very narrow. I am happy that I managed to survive the situation at the start at all. As I caught up to Manuel Reuter, I know that my only chance would be at the slow corner, because on the faster parts, Manuel was faster than me. The fight was hard, but fair. I came off the track a little bit, but as the dust settled and I could see again, I was third. I am happy with that." Abt-team principal Hans-Jürgen Abt: "Too bad that Mattias was held up at the start. He has been doing a great job."