Kaffer the quickest of a motley field
At the end of the two 90-minute tests at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz, the time monitors displayed an exceptional ranking: behind the wheel of his 2004 spec Audi A4 DTM, Pierre Kaffer had set the fastest lap time at the German tri-oval’s 3.410-kilometrte GP circuit. In his fastest lap, the Swiss based German crossed the line in 1:16.644 minutes, thus being 0.177 seconds faster than second placed Jamie Green (AMG-Mercedes C-Class). Jean Alesi, the winner of the season opener at Hockenheim, secured third place, 0.211 seconds behind Kaffer.
“It feels great to have been the fastest,” said Pierre Kaffer, “Particularly as I hadn’t expected to be able to achieve this goal, in my maiden DTM season and in a 2004 spec car. But the Audi A4 handles just great, at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz. And all those enthusiasts who came to Frankfurt/Oder last week for the DTM Day have been an additional motivation for me. Now I hope that I’ll be able to deliver on the same level in tomorrow’s qualifying session.” Quite obviously, it will be anything but easy for Kaffer to secure a similar result in the qualifying as his rivals will give their very best to beat him in the free practice session, the qualifying session and the Super Pole. At the end of the day, the competitiveness of all the three manufacturers and the two generations of the DTM cars of Audi and Mercedes-Benz promise close and thrilling Saturday sessions.
At 15:20hrs, when the practice tests in front of the EuroSpeedway’s huge grandstand meant the end of Friday’s DTM action at the Niederlausitz, eleven drivers had set lap times within one second. Behind two-time Formula One World Champion Mika Häkkinen (Mercedes-Benz) and DTM rookie Frank Stippler (Audi), Heinz-Harald Frentzen in 12th position was the fastest driver behind the wheel of an Opel Vectra GTS V8 – and of those who were more than a second slower than Pierre Kaffer: 1.003 seconds slower. “Today, we have been working on the car’s balance for a fast qualifying lap,” revealed Frentzen, “And we’ve made good progress. The new circuit layout is great for the crowds. Thanks to this modification, they will see the cars even more often than in the past.”
The busiest drivers on Friday were some of the old hands: Allan McNish completed 43 laps in session two, Jean Alesi 42 and Tom Kristensen 41. At the same time, the drivers of local heroes Mücke Motorsport from Berlin completed fewer laps than anybody else: in the afternoon, Stefan Mücke and Alexandros Margaritis covered a total of 23 laps each.
On Saturday, the German TV station ARD will cover the qualifying session and the Super Pole at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz live from 14:03hrs. Thanks to its state-of-the-art virtual graphics, DTM’s TV partner has got what it needs to provide the spectators with all the overtaking manoeuvres, driving mistakes and technical details to perfectly explain what is going on.