Tyre gamble in the qualifying: pole for Kristensen
Boosted by success: following his seventh win at Le Mans, the Danish Audi driver Tom Kristensen succeeded in securing his maiden DTM pole position in the qualifying session for the fifth DTM round, held at Oschersleben. “Today, we made a gamble and we won,” said the pole-sitter regarding his team’s tyre strategy for the qualifying session. To secure his maiden DTM pole, the 37-year old lapped the 3.667-kilometre circuit in 1:20.218 minutes. His German brand-mate, Martin Tomczyk (1:20.989 minutes) was about eight tenths of a second slower than the Dane and finished second. Behind the two Audi A4 DTM sharing the first row, a Mercedes-Benz pairing (Gary Paffett and Jamie Green) will be third and fourth respectively on the grid for tomorrow’s race.
Just minutes prior to the scheduled start of the qualifying session, the MOTOPARK Oschersleben was hit by a heavy thunderstorm, with 110 kph-squalls and torrential rain flooding parts of the MOTOPARK. Therefore, the Super Pole – the one-lap shoot-out usually contested by the ten fastest drivers of the qualifying session – was cancelled and the result of the qualifying session that was delayed by 40 minutes was decisive regarding the starting grid positions for tomorrow’s race.
Championship leader Mattias Ekström finished fifth, behind the wheel of his Audi A4 DTM and will share the third row of the grid with the fastest Opel driver, Laurent Aiello, who took third place, with his Opel Vectra GTS V8. The French had missed the first free practice session on Friday as another thunderstorm had prevented his plane from taking off in Paris.
DTM record champion Bernd Schneider (AMG-Mercedes C-Class) finished tenth, while his brand-mate, Mika Häkkinen, went off on his first qualifying lap, thus seriously damaging his car’s underbody. The damages couldn’t be repaired before the session was over, therefore, the Finn will start the race from 20th position.
The DTM race at Oschersleben will be started on 26th June, at 14:00hrs local time (13:00hrs GMT), with DTM’s German TV partner beginning its live coverage from the MOTOPARK at 13:45hrs. Over the course of the race, the field of 20 will complete 42 laps at the 3.667-kilometre circuit located at the ‘Magdeburger Börde’.
Tom Kristensen (pole position, Audi Sport Team Abt): “We waited quite a while and then we went out on slicks. This strategy turned out to be the right one. We gambled and we won. Although the thunderstorm has made for slightly cooler temperatures I expect to experience the hottest race of the season, from a sporting point of view.”
Martin Tomczyk: (2nd grid position, Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline): “For me, the qualifying went really well. Quite obviously it’s a shame that the Super Pole had to be cancelled due to the weather conditions, but I’m very happy with the result. Today I have been compensated for the qualifying at Brno when I was one of two drivers who had to perform their qualifying laps on a wet track.”
Gary Paffett (3rd grid position, DaimlerChrysler Bank AMG-Mercedes): “I’m standing ahead of Ekström, therefore, my third position is fine for me. It’s a good position regarding the championship and it was just impossible to secure a better result, today. I went out on slicks rather late in the session, yet, it still was rather wet. Therefore, I spun once.”
Laurent Aiello (6th grid position, Team OPC): “My qualifying was quite alright. My car was set up for wet conditions, but I spontaneously decided to go out on slicks. I suffered from a rather heavy understeer, in these conditions, but following a set-up change my car handled pretty well. Unfortunately I had to pass two cars on my fastest lap, otherwise, an even better result might have been possible.”
Audi Motorsport Director Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich: “Once again, the entire team did a great job. Due to the rain, the strategy was a key factor, today, and our decision to go out late turned out to be the right one. We’re delighted with first and second grid positions and look forward to a thrilling race.”
Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Director Norbert Haug: “Considering the point in time we opted for to go out, you have to admit that Gray Paffett’s third position is okay. The conditions were difficult but we were competitive. And quite obviously it’s always possible to win from the second row of the grid. The circuit is rather short but truly demanding for both the drivers and the strategists.”
Opel Motorsport Director Volker Strycek: “I’m happy with Laurent Aiello’s performance. Due to the changeable conditions, we used different strategies for our cars to be on the safer side. Tomorrow, the drivers will have to deliver an extremely focused performance to avoid making mistakes at this demanding circuit.