Spengler on pole! Paul di Resta impresses in third
A dream start into the new DTM season. In bright sunshine and in front of packed grandstands, the 20 drivers staged a fascinating battle in the fight for the first pole position of the year. With 1:34.369 minutes, Canadian Mercedes-Benz-driver Bruno Spengler (pictured right) secured himself first place on the grid for tomorrow’s race (ARD live from 13.45 h) after three shoot-out sessions.
German Martin Tomczyk (Audi A4 DTM) followed in second place.0.077 seconds down. The champion of the 2006 Formula 3 Euro Series, Paul di Resta from Scotland, finished in an impressive third place. In his first-ever DTM qualifying, the 21-year old newcomer put his AMG Mercedes C-Class from 2005 on the second row of the grid. For the first time in DTM history, a two-year old car made it into the final qualifying heat.
“Especially in the first qualifying of the season, being quickest is always something very special, as before that, nobody really knows where we are”, the pole sitter from the Hockenheimring said. For 23-year old Spengler (right), it was the third pole position for the DTM, for his employer, Mercedes-Benz, it was the 92nd. The 2004 DTM champion, Mattias Ekström (Audi), will be starting from fourth place on Sunday. Lining up behind him on the third grid row are his fellow Audi drivers Tom Kristensen from Denmark and German Timo Scheider. Crowd favorite Mika Häkkinen ended up in seventh place with his AMG Mercedes C-Class.
Daniel La Rosa was unlucky in qualifying. After having completed two sessions, the driver from Hanau had to park his car due to problems with the steering system and thus missed out on any better result. Susie Stoddart from Scotland however was happy. Twelfth place was her best-ever qualifying result in the DTM. For reigning DTM champion Bernd Schneider and fellow Mercedes-Benz-driver Jamie Green, qualifying was over surprisingly soon. Both failed to make it into the final session of the shoot-out qualifying and will be starting from ninth and 13th place respectively.
In the shoot-out qualifying of the DTM, the best 14 of 20 drivers go on to the next heat after the first session of 14 minutes. After another ten minutes, the field is being reduced again to the eight fastest drivers. They are battling for first to eighth place in the final session of nine minutes.
The first race of the 2007 DTM season will be starting on Sunday at 14.00 h. Television partner ARD will be broadcasting the 37 laps long season opener (169.238 kilometres) from 13.45 h onwards. Last year’s winner was the eventual DTM champion, Bernd Schneider.
Bruno Spengler (1st starting place, DaimlerChrysler Bank AMG-Mercedes): “I am totally happy with pole position. Especially in the first qualifying of the season, being quickest is always something very special, as before that, nobody really knows where we are. It is great that it was enough for pole. Now, I am in a good position to start from for tomorrow. But in the DTM, it is always very close and many things can happen.”
Martin Tomczyk (2nd starting place, Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline): “That is how I had expected it. I had planned to continue just where I ended last year, and I did quite well. Today’s result shows how close the battle for the title will be, and I want to be out in front.”
Paul di Resta (3rd starting place, Jawa4u.de AMG-Mercedes): “Being third in my first-ever DTM qualifying is just fantastic! I could never even have dreamt about that. I have been working hard during the winter and now got a great result with an excellent car. However, tomorrow is another day and it can be totally different.”
Mercedes-Benz-Motorsportchef Norbert Haug: „I am happy to see Bruno Spengler on pole position at the debut of the new C-Class. Paul di Resta in third with a two-year old car is impressive. This was just great racing. The margins in qualifying were minimal and Audi was very strong in the second heat. That means that the result could just as well have been the other way round. That everything has to be spot on in qualifying, became obvious in Bernd Schneider’s case. He is surely not somebody who needs any excuses. Track conditions changed nearly every five minutes. I would also like to emphasize the performance of Daniel La Rosa and Susie Stoddart. Daniel had a problem with the power steering, otherwise he could have been even further up front. Susie Stoddart’s twelfth place in a 2005-spec car is great.”
Audi-Motorsportchef Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich: “It was very busy out there today already. That shows that the DTM remains very popular. I am happy that we are among the front runners in this great championship. We have seen a very exciting qualifying session, this format remains great. For the cars from the different years, everything is possible. But with this format, everything has to be spot on. That is what makes the DTM so exciting. We have all our 2007-spec cars in good positions and therefore, we are in a favorable position for tomorrow’s race. Even though Mercedes-Benz has won here at Hockenheim for the past nine years, it may very well be different tomorrow.”