The hot battle at the Norisring has begun
The first DTM test at of the Norisring weekend was held in midsummer temperatures of about 30°C (air) and nearly 40°C (track). In the heat, Opel’s Marcel Fässler kept his cool better than all his rivals and succeeded in setting the first fastest session lap time of the weekend: behind the wheel of his Vectra GTS V8, the Swiss deriver lapped the 2.3-kilometre circuit in 49.732 seconds, with Bruno Spengler (AMG-Mercedes C-Class) finishing second. Behind the wheel of his 2004 spec car, the Canadian was 0.137 seconds slower than Fässler and had held the lead for quite a while, when the Swiss Opel driver gained the top position on the time sheets, in the middle of the session. At the end of the 90-minute session, Fässler’s Opel brand-mate, Manuel Reuter, took third place.
RBehind the top three, Gary Paffett – currently second in the championship – secured fourth position, followed by his Mercedes-Benz brand-mate Jean Alesi, while Tom Kristensen, the fastest of the Audi A4 DTM drivers, finished sixth. The top ten were completed by Jamie Green, reigning champion Mattias Ekström, Bernd Schneider and Laurent Aiello, while Mika Häkkinen had to settle for 14th position, in the weekend’s first test session. Only yesterday, the DTM rookie completed his maiden Norisring laps – behind the wheel of a production car and on a scooter.
Because of DTM’s extreme competitiveness, everything has to work perfectly if you want to be successful at the Norisring. At the end of the test, all the 20 DTM drivers had set lap times within one second, with Scotland’s Allan McNish, the slowest, having been less than nine tenths of a second slower than Fässler. Furthermore, the field represents a varied mixture of 2005 DTM cars and the 2004 spec versions of Audi and Mercedes-Benz. But: the grip level at the Norisring uses to improve slowly, therefore, Fässler’s fastest lap was clearly slower than last year’s pole time.