Thrilling Super Pole battle: Paffett beats Frentzen
The Super Pole session for the fourth round of the 2005 DTM season couldn’t have been much more thrilling: only in the very last second, Mercedes-Benz driver Gary Paffett succeeded in beating Opel’s Heinz-Harald Frentzen for the pole position by lapping the 5.403-kilometre circuit in 1:52.191 minutes, just 0.180 seconds faster than the German.
“Today, my car was close to perfect,” revealed the Briton, who was delighted to have secured his second pole position of the season. In spite of having lost his pole in the closing seconds of the session, Frentzen also was happy with his result. “That’s a major surprise,” beamed the former Formula One ace. In the one-lap shoot out on the drying track, Audi’s Tom Kristensen (1:52.442 minutes) finished third. For the first time in the 2005 season, all three brands involved succeeded in gaining a top-three position on the grid for a DTM race.
Last year, Mattias Ekström succeeded in early clinching the title, at Brno, and this time the Swede qualified for fourth grid position. Mika Häkkinen (AMG-Mercedes C-Class) is fifth on the grid and shares the third row with Manuel Reuter (Opel Vectra GTS V8), with Scotland’s Allan McNish (Audi A4 DTM) and DTM Record Champion Bernd Schneider starting the 30-lap race from row four. The German TV station ARD will cover the 160.090-kilometre race live from 13.45hrs CET (12.45hrs GMT).
Gary Paffett (Pole position, DaimlerChrysler Bank AMG-Mercedes): “We made several set-up changes, this morning, resulting in a nearly perfect handling of my car. Therefore, I just had to secure the pole position – anything else would have represented a disappointment.”
Heinz-Harald Frentzen (2nd grid position, Stern Team OPC): “That’s a major surprise for me and my team. We didn’t expect to make it to the first row of the grid. But I have to admit that this circuit suits my style of driving really well. Now I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s race as I think we’re well armed.”
Tom Kristensen (3rd grid position, Audi Sport Team Abt): “I opted for saving one set of tyres for the race, in the qualifying session. Therefore, I didn’t cover the number of laps I was allowed to. Both Gary and Heinz-Harald have delivered in fine style, but we are well prepared for tomorrow’s race. I hope that I’ll be able to gain another podium finish.”
Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Director Norbert Haug: “This Super Pole session was extremely thrilling, up to its very last second. Both Gary and Heinz-Harald drove perfect laps, and Tom also delivered an extraordinary performance. All the three manufacturers turned out to be extremely competitive, therefore, the race promises to be an extremely thrilling one.”
Opel Motorsport Director Volker Strycek: “What a great Super Pole session; although it wasn’t that good for my heart. I’m really delighted with our second grid position and I want to thank the entire team. Heinz-Harald always believed that we could do it and motivated the entire squad. And I’m also very pleased with Manuel’s six position on the grid.”
Audi Motorsport Director Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich: “Tom’s third place is a really good result. At the end of the day, his hard work regarding his Super Pole performance has paid off. From the second row of the grid, he has got all the chances of securing another podium finish. Due to the rain falling between the qualifying and the Super Pole, Martin Tomczyk – the first driver to contest his Super Pole lap – had to cope with the worst conditions. It’s a good result to have four cars among the top ten.”