Schneider on pole, Opel second and third on the grid
Once again, Bernd Schneider proved that he has still got what it needs to outclass DTM’s young guns. Thanks to a great lap in the single lap shoot-out of the ten fastest drivers of the qualifying session, the 41-year old gained the 24th pole in his DTM career. “I’m experiencing a rather difficult year,” said the four-time DTM Champion, “Therefore, I’m particularly delighted with having made it back to the top.” Behind the wheel of his AMG-Mercedes C-Class, Schneider lapped Zandvoort’s dune circuit in 1:32.730 minutes. At the same time, Swiss Marcel Fässler and former Formula One ace Heinz-Harald Frentzen caused a stir and made the crowds cheer by taking their Opel Vectras GTS V8 to second and third grid positions, with Fässler’s lap being just 0.224 seconds slower than Schneider’s.
RTwo minutes prior to the end of the qualifying session, Schneider held only 18th place, but then, the DTM Record Champion proved his skills by qualifying for the Super Pole and setting the fastest lap time, there. While Opel drivers Fässler and Frentzen confirmed their good times set in Friday’s test sessions by qualifying second and third respectively. Yet, it has to be admitted that they benefited from a mistake of Denmark’s Audi driver Tom Kristensen who seemed to be on the way to clearly secure pole position when he slightly went off the track, thus losing valuable time. Therefore, his Audi A4 will be only tenth on the grid for tomorrow’s race that will start at 14:00hrs (ARD live coverage from 13:45hrs).
LThe battle of the top title favourites turned out to also be extremely thrilling. Gary Paffett (DaimlerChrysler Bank AMG-Mercedes) and Mattias Ekström (Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline) will be fourth and fifth respectively on the grid for the eighth round of the 2005 DTM season. Currently, Sweden’s Ekström (51 points), the winner of the 2004 Zandvoort round, holds a one-point lead over Britain’s Gary Paffett (50).
The following grid positions for the 2005 DTM season’s third abroad race were secured by Mercedes driver Jamie Green and the Audi trio Allan McNish, Christian Abt and Frank Stippler.
Bernd Schneider (pole position, Vodafone AMG-Mercedes): “I’m really pleased to have secured my first pole since Donington 1993. Having made it to the Super Pole in the closing minutes of the qualifying session I was very confident regarding the single lap shoot-out. My car was just great, in the Super Pole, thus offering me the chance of pushing to the very end of my lap.”
Marcel Fässler (2nd grid position, GMAC Team OPC): “A fantastic result for Opel. Zandvoort suits us well. Tomorrow’s race will be very thrilling and a tough battle.”
Heinz-Harald Frentzen: (3rd grid position, Stern Team OPC): “Good car, good team – everything’s fine. To start tomorrow’s race from first and second row on the grid is a fantastic result, for Opel.”
Mattias Ekström (5th grid position, Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline): “The weekend so far went rather well, actually. Yet, in the Super Pole, things didn’t go the way we hoped they would. Therefore, the result is relatively disappointing. Yet, tomorrow’s race will be long and we won’t stop fighting until the final lap is over.”
Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Director Norbert Haug: “It’s great to see Bernd back on pole. Gary Paffett didn’t perform his best lap, today, but secured fourth grid position, nevertheless. Everybody delivered great sport, thus inspiring both the enthusiasts on the grandstands and the TV audience.”
Opel Motorsport Director Volker Strycek: “I’m really delighted and want to thank the entire team. It’s just great to have secured first and second row grid positions. The Vectras GTS V8 turned out to be extremely competitive throughout the entire weekend so far, hence, we hoped to be able to deliver in fine style in the Super Pole. I hope we are able to continue this way, tomorrow.”
Audi Motorsport Director Dr Wolfgang Ullrich: “It is just great to have five cars in the top ten, but of course we hoped to be able to take the pole. Some drivers made minor mistakes, others bigger ones. But you must avoid making mistakes, in the Super Pole. Yet, the race will be held tomorrow – and tomorrow is another day.”