A thriller and a lottery: Junior Tomczyk heads Abt-Audi quartet once more. Once again a lottery for those with strong nerves, the qualifying session for the second round of the DTM-season at the 3.977 km long Circuit Zolder in Belgium. While...
A thriller and a lottery: Junior Tomczyk heads Abt-Audi quartet once more.
Once again a lottery for those with strong nerves, the qualifying session for the second round of the DTM-season at the 3.977 km long Circuit Zolder in Belgium. While more and more clouds showed over the track, an accident of Mercedes-junior Stefan Mücke brought the red flags out after only three minutes. When qualifying resumed after ten minutes, a light drizzle had already set in.
The lucky card in the game of poker was drawn by the Team Abt Sportsline: ten minutes after training had continued, four Abt-Audi TT-Rs occupied the first four positions– and nothing changed anymore, as it proved to be impossible to improve the times because of the heavy rain. Martin Tomczyk was first, followed by Mattias Ekström (S), opening round winner Laurent Aiello (F) and Christian Abt. The two Opel Astra V8 Coupés of Michael Bartels and Timo Scheider occupied the third row of the grid. Bernd Schneider and Uwe Alzen (Mercedes-Benz) will be starting from seventh and eighth place respectively for the qualification race. (DTM live from 13.15 on ZDF).
Only 20-year old Tomczyk from Rosenheim had already won the qualification race at the season opener. "I am feeling really strong", says Tomczyk. "Our car is just perfect, and the co-operation with the team is great. I hope that it goes on like this all season." Team principal Hans-Jürgen Abt was especially happy about the front row lock-out of his two junior drivers, because Hockenheim-runner-up Ekström is also only 23 years old:
"Two years ago, at the comeback of the DTM, I already said that we need young drivers in the DTM and I supported them. And now, the youngsters are putting the pressure on the stalwarts." Abt continues: "Today, we just had the perfect strategy, because all of us were out immediately. And our drivers have been able to convert this strategy into a good result. All in all, we have shown a great performance today, we have four Audis in front– congratulations to all."
Fastest Opel-driver, Michael Bartels, resumed: "First of all, we at Opel have shown that we have a car capable of winning in yesterday’s tests and in this morning’s free practice. Yesterday, we were the fastest and we had justified high hopes in the dry. The fact that the Holzer-crew with myself and Timo Scheider is in fifth and sixth position as the best Opels, makes me really happy for the team. We will try to make it as difficult as possible for the Audis. Alain Menu was the third Opel-driver to make it into the top ten. The Swiss was fastest in testing on Friday, but like many of his fellow drivers, he was a victim of the circumstances in qualifying.
Reigning champion Bernd Schneider, who will be starting into the qualification race from seventh place and as the fastest driver with a Mercedes-Benz CLK-DTM like in Hockenheim already, is quite confident in spite of his grid position. "We have worked out a good set-up for dry conditions and the race Hockenheim has already shown, that is is possible to make up positions in the race. Should it be raining tomorrow, things will get really exciting, as none of us has driven in the rain here so far."
Bad luck in the lottery also for Mercedes-novice Jean Alesi, who finished a sensational third on his DTM-debut in Hockenheim– he was only 13th. Mercedes-Benz motorsport director Norbert Haug: "Basically, Audi and Opel are stronger than us, but we are working on closing the gap."