The long period of waiting is over – the race action is on. Today, at 09:45 hours, the teams of Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Opel opened the gates of their Hockenheim garages to send their cars out for the first test taking place during a race weekend of the 2005 season. This Friday represents the end off all the off-season testing with its tactical manoeuvres and the testing of new components. The final aerodynamics of the cars has been approved by the DMSB and any further modifications are banned.
Behind the wheel of his AMG-Mercedes C-Class, Gary Paffett made a perfect start into the new season. The Briton lapped the 4.574-kilometre circuit in 1:35.755 minutes, thus securing the top spot on the time sheets, with his brand-mate, Stefan Mücke, causing a stir. At the end of the 90-minute session, the DTM rookie had lapped the Hockenheimring just 143 hundreds of a second slower than Paffett and finished second. Team Principal Peter Mücke: “This isn’t a result; it’s just a part of the work we have to execute. You should not even use it to draw first conclusions. But everything is running well, so far.” Jean Alesi and Bernd Schneider finished fifth and seventh respectively, while DTM’s new idol of the public, Mika Häkkinen, came eleventh.
Reigning DTM Champion Mattias Ekström, however, took it easy behind the wheel of his Audi A4 DTM. At the end of the morning session, the Swede finished eighth, with Tom Kristensen securing third place, thus being the fastest Audi driver. Christian Abt set the fourth fastest lap time of the session and Martin Tomczyk came sixth.
Manuel Reuter turned out to be the fastest Opel driver in the first free practice session of the 2005 season. The experienced German touring car driver who lives in Austria set a 1:36.676-minute lap and finished 13th. Marcel Fässler and Laurent Aiello took 15th and 17th positions, while Heinz-Harald Frentzen had to settle for 19th place.