The Danish Touringcar Championship is speeding up. The top 15 drivers are covered by a mere second following today's qualifying. On Sunday the 2002 edition of the Danish Touringcar Championship will be decided. Will last year's runner-up Jason...
The Danish Touringcar Championship is speeding up.
The top 15 drivers are covered by a mere second following today's qualifying.
On Sunday the 2002 edition of the Danish Touringcar Championship will be decided. Will last year's runner-up Jason Watt take the winner's garland, or will John Nielsen transform his underdog position to take his country's most prestigious title? There are many questions before the final DTC round, but the answers will not be given until tomorrow's race at Jyllands-Ringen.
But even though the championship battle between Watt and Nielsen is the focus of everybody, the Danish Touringcar Championship is still speeding up. Saturday's practice session was thus the fastest ever at Jyllands-Ringen, where the majority of the 24 car field recorded their best ever lap times. A total of three drivers got below the 48 second barrier, which until recently had been thought unbreakable.
Unsurprisingly ALMS regular Jan Magnussen was the fastest driver, but unlike previous qualifying sessions he was not leading by a country mile this time. In fact, Jason Watt took the runner-up position by a mere 0.06 seconds, but in general the competitiveness of the Danish national series is higher than ever. The top ten drivers, who will go on to Sunday's shoot-out, were covered by just half a second, while the top 15 qualifiers were inside the first second!
The man who is challenging Jason Watt for this years title, 1990 Le Mans winner John Nielsen, however, had to make do with just 12th best time, having to carry 75 kilos of success ballast in hos BMW 320i, while Magnussen and Watt had 40 and 10 kilos in their Peugeots respectively.
"My car is driving perfectly, and I also feel that I'm doing well and have done some perfect laps," John Nielsen explained after the session. "Today's time is the fastest that I have ever done with this weight in the car, so I can't complain. Tomorrow we are going to have the race, and that will be another day, so let's see what happens."
Even though the two title candidates will be split by nine cars, when the DTC drivers line up on the grid for tomorrow's pre-final, championship leader Jason Watt doesn't feel safe in the lead.
"Nobody knows better than me that things in life can change suddenly," the paralysed Peugeot driver said. "Just as you think that things look positive, you are left off with nothing. Today's practice result is only the first step towards the championship. There are still three or four steps left to go, so nothing has been decided yet."
"But in tomorrow's race the championship will be my top priority. I won't be doing any door-to-door racing, I would rather like to play it safe. I have to score seven points more than John in the first race in order to take the championship before the second race. Then I will be able to give everything for a race win in the final."
Two drivers impressing in Saturday's practice was 1999 DTC champion Jesper Sylvest and Team Brask driver Carsten Leveau. The former driver has got a new aluminium engine in his Citroën Xsara, giving him his first top six qualifying result this year, while Leveau has also found speed in his Peugeot 406 Coupe, outqualifying team mates Gunnar Kristensen and Thorkild Thyrring.