Audi one-two in the free practice session
The preconditions for a thrilling qualifying session seem to be perfect: in the free practice session, held on Saturday morning, the 20 DTM drivers were involved in a close battle for the fastest lap time, with the top ten drivers improving the times set in the Friday test sessions by more than a second. Just like it was the case yesterday, all the three DTM brands turned out to be on a par, with Tom Kristensen in his Audi A4 DTM setting the fastest lap time, in the closing minutes of the session. The Dane lapped the 4.307-kilometre circuit in 1:33.114 minutes, thus being clearly faster than Mattias Ekström on the way to securing his 2004 pole position with a 1:34.051-minute lap. Today, the Swede was two tenth of a second slower than his brand-mate and finished second.
RHeinz-Harald Frentzen took third place behind the Audi pairing. In the first half of the session, the German held even first place, with his Opel Vectra GTS V8, but then he dropped back quite a lot. Yet, with ten more minutes to go, Frentzen worked his way back up to third place, just 0.043 seconds behind Ekström. Marcel Fässler in eleventh position was the only of the four Opel drivers to not make it to the top ten, while Laurent Aiello finished sixth and Manuel Reuter came eighth.
LGray Paffett completed the brand mix at the front end of the field. Behind the wheel of his AMG-Mercedes C-Class, the Briton – currently second in the championship – set the fourth fastest time of the session, thus keeping close contact to his closest title rival, championship leader Mattias Ekström. Mika Häkkinen finished tenth.
Christian Abt in his 2004 spec Audi A4 DTM also succeeded in setting an impressive lap time. He took fifth place was the fastest driver of a 2004 spec car, with his team-mate, Frank Stippler, coming ninth.