Stippler sets the first fastest lap time, in Turkey
The first of the two Friday test sessions represented the start of the 2005 season’s tenth DTM weekend. It’s not only DTM’s maiden appearance in Turkey alone but also at the all new Grand Prix ciruit ‘Istanbul Park’. Frank Stippler succeeded in delivering the best start into the Turkish adventure: behind the wheel of his 2004-spec Audi A4 DTM, he set the fastest lap time of the session (1:49.0067 minutes), thus beating his second placed brand-mate, Allan McNish, by 0.059 seconds, with Heinz-Harald Frentzen finishing third in his Opel Vectra GTS V8 and Bruno Spengler, the fastest AMG-Mercedes C-Class driver, taking fourth place. Once again, the DTM field proved its extreme competitiveness with 17 cars setting lap times within one second.
The 5.338-kilometre circuit represents virgin soil for everybody: the drivers have to acquire the racing line and the engineers also haven’t got sufficient data to work with. The result of this situation could be clearly seen on the time monitors. At the beginning of the session, the fastest drivers crossed the line in about 1:52 minutes, yet, during the course of the 90 minutes, they improved by 2.5 to 3 seconds. Let’s take a look at Mattias Ekström: in his third lap, the reigning champion set a 1:52.268-minute lap, while his fastest personal lap time, set later in the session, added up to 1:49.559 minutes. At the end of the day, the Swede finished eighth. Gary Paffett, his only rival in the battle for the 2005 DTM title, finished 14th. The first outing at the new venue turned out to be a close affaire right from the start and at the end of the day, 17 cars had set lap times within a second.
The number of laps completed in the first test session also reflects the drivers’ efforts to quickly learn the new track. Christian Abt and Pierre Kaffer completed the smallest number of laps (22), while Marcel Fässler was the busiest driver. He completed 32 laps, representing a total mileage of 170.816 kilometres.
Istanbul’s DTM debut weekend started with a 45-minute delay as the mobile track safeguard didn’t meet the DTM standards. Hence, the light at the pit-lane exit was switched green only at 12:00hrs local time. The second DTM test session, however, will start as scheduled, at 16:00hrs local time.