Ekström the quickest in first Zandvoort test session
For quite a while, Christian Abt, Manuel Reuter and Bernd Schneider were the pace-setters in the first DTM test session at Zandvoort, Netherlands. Yet, in the closing minutes of the 90-minute session, the fastest lap time was improved again and again, and none of the three could defend his top-three position, while reigning DTM Champion Mattias Ekström succeeded in setting the fastest lap time. Behind the wheel of his Audi A4 DTM, the Swede lapped the 4.307-kilometre circuit in 1:34.464 minutes, just four tenths of a second slower than the time he had set last year on the way to securing the 2004 pole position.
RMarcel Fässler was 0.342 seconds slower, with his Opel Vectra GTS V8, and finished second. While the positions three to seven were all secured by Audi A4 DTM drivers, with Frank Stippler once again proving the competitiveness of the 2004-spec Audi by taking third place, just two hundredth of a second behind second placed Fässler. Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish and Rinaldo Cappello came fourth fifth and sixth respectively.
LGerman Manuel Reuter, who resides in Austria and is going to contest his 200th DRTM race, this Sunday, finished eighth, while DTM Record Champion Bernd Schneider in ninth place was the fastest AMG-Mercedes C-Class driver. Schneider is extremely motivated when it comes to the eighth round of the season, as he still has to clinch his maiden Zandvoort win following the two runner-up finishes, one third and one fifth place he secured in the past four years. Opel’s Laurent Aiello completed the top ten, with Gary Paffett, currently second in the championship, just one point behind the leader, Ekström, having to settle for twelfth position.
At the same time, Bruno Spengler couldn’t complete his scheduled testing programme as he had to stop his AMG-Mercedes C-Class on the track just a few minutes into the session.