Sunday was a good day, if your first name was Michael and you were in Denmark. That is the conclusion following today's opening round of the Danish Touringcar Challenge at the Jyllands- Ring, where the best of the country's international drivers...
Sunday was a good day, if your first name was Michael and you were in Denmark. That is the conclusion following today's opening round of the Danish Touringcar Challenge at the Jyllands- Ring, where the best of the country's international drivers meet up with the locals. And it was indeed the locals who came out on top, as last year's championship runner-up, Michael Carlsen, won the final after having come second in the qualification race in which he had started from pole position. "I have got a new gearbox for my Peugeot this year, and I have not really got used to making starts with it," Carlsen explained. At the start of the qualification race, the BP backed driver fell to fourth place behind Michael Schröter, John Nielsen and Jesper Sylvest. The latter soon had to concede his place to Carlsen, who made up another position, when Schröter spun from the lead. "I don't know whether there actually was an oil flag. Anyway, I did not realize anything before I spun in the oil," a disapointed Schröter said, having to continue the race down in ninth place. Having inherited second place Michael Carlsen nevertheless managed to close the gap to John Nielsen's McDonald's Nissan, but even though he pushed him hard, he could not get past the former Le Mans winner. At the start of the final Michael Carlsen once again made a tardy start, and thus last year's champion Jesper Sylvest took up the position as challenger to the leading John Nielsen. But it did not last long before Carlsen got in touch with Sylvest, and at the so-called "horseshoe" section of the circuit (a double right-hand corner) he swept by. Slowly, but surely Carlsen now closed the gap to John Nielsen, with whom he got into contact a couple of laps later. At the end of the short straight he made his first attempt to pass Nielsen, and indeed he succeeded. John Nielsen stuck onto the tail of Michael Carlsen's Peugeot 306, whom he shadowed for the rest of the final. "I had expected that I would get another chance to come back in front later in the race, but even though he was running at a fast and constant pace, Michael was doing just as well, so I never really got the chance to pass him," Nielsen explained. A few hour later, however, John Nielsen's Nissan was found to be too light to observe the rules of the Danish Touringcar Challenge, which dictate that the cars must weight 5.5 kilos for every horsepower. Thus, second place went Michael Schröter's way, which was richly deserved, as he spent the final to fight past Allan Bjerregaard, the Legarth brothers of Mike and Pierre as well as Jesper Sylvest. The latter took third place – a position he was very pleased with. "I am very happy to come third," Sylvest commented, "as my Citroën is not only brand-new, but is also still lacking the right gearbox and the right suspension parts. But these items are on their way, so soon the car will be really fast." Generally, the luck was not on the side of the international drivers at the premiere of the Danish Touringcar Challenge. Jan Magnussen decided not to race, when he could not get a proper gearbox for his Peugeot 306, while former Formula Renault driver, Casper Elgaard, also opted to stay in the pits, when the electronics of his Renault Megane Wagon prevented him to exceed 6,000 rpm. In the races former DTM star Kurt Thiim retired with technical problems, while Thorkild Thyrring was excluded following a jumped start.
<pre> Result - Round 1 Qualification race:
1. John Nielsen McDonald's Nissan Racing Nissan Primera 10.18,311 2. Michael Carlsen Michael Carlsen Motorsport Peugeot 306 GTI 10.18,621 3. Jesper Sylvest Sylvest Motorsport Citroën Xsara Coupé VTS 10.23,652 4. Mike Legarth Legarth Racing BMW 320i 10.25,879 5. Pierre Legarth Peugeot Sport Team Peugeot 406 Coupé 10.26,947 6. Kurt Thiim High Class Racing VW Beetle 10.29,842 7. Michael Schröter Michael Schröter VW Golf GTI 10.30,320 8. Jørgen Poulsen S40 Racing Volvo S40 10.39,567 9. Kent Bo Steffensen S40 Racing Volvo S40 10.40,179 10. Allan Bjerregaard Allan Bjerregaard Ford Focus 10.44,397
Fastest lap: Schröter, 50,314s, 65.579 mph.
Result Round 1 - Final:
1. Michael Carlsen Michael Carlsen Motorsport Peugeot 306 GTI 17.00,322 2. Michael Schröter Michael Schröter VW Golf GTI 17.04,681 3. Jesper Sylvest Sylvest Motorsport Citroën Xsara Coupé VTS 17.08,358 4. Carsten Leveau Team Brask Racing Peugeot 306 GTI 17.13,261 5. Mike Legarth Legarth Racing BMW 320i 17.25,171 6. Klaus Madsen Team Braks Racing Peugeot 306 GTI 17.35,040 7. Peter Rasmussen VHA Racing Team Fiat Coupé 17.41,891 8. Jørgen Poulsen S40 Racing Volvo S40 17.50,275 9. Allan Bjerregaard Allan Bjerregaard Ford Focus -9 laps
Fastest lap: Schröter, 50,380s, 65,494 mph.
1. Michael Carlsen Michael Carlsen Motorsport Peugeot 306 GTI 27,5 p. 2. Jesper Sylvest Sylvest Motorsport Citroën Xsara Coupé VTS 18,0 p. 3. Michael Schröter Michael Schröter VW Golf GTI 17,0 p. 4. Mike Legarth Legarth Racing BMW 320i 13,0 p. 5. John Nielsen McDonald's Nissan Racing Nissan Primera 10,0 p. Carsten Leveau Team Brask Racing Peugeot 306 GTI 10,0 p. 7. Klaus Madsen Team Brask Racing Peugeot 306 GTI 6,0 p. 8. Jørgen Poulsen S40 Racing Volvo S40 4,5 p. 9. Pierre Legarth Peugeot Sport Team Peugeot 406 Coupé 4,0 p. Peter Rasmussen VHA Racing Team Fiat Coupé 4,0 p.
Next round: May 28th, Ring Djursland (DK) round 2 of 8.