Spengler winner at Norisring
Bruno Spengler is the winner of the fifth DTM round of the season. After 74 laps at the Norisring street circuit in Nuremberg, the Canadian Mercedes-Benz driver was the first driver to take the chequered flag, waved by former 007-agent Roger Moore. “This is my first victory this year. I am happy and I will celebrate today”, the 23-year old said after opening his winning account for this season. Last year, Spengler scored a total of four victories after having notched up his maiden win in the “German Monaco”.
Thus, the DTM fans saw a different winner in each one of the five DTM rounds held so far this season. Second place went to the winner of the previous round at Brands Hatch, Bernd Schneider, who was 1.803 seconds down on his fellow-Mercedes-Benz driver at the finish line. This allowed the record DTM champion to take the lead in the championship standings for the first time this season.
The winners’ podium was completed by Swedish Audi driver, Mattias Ekström, who scored six points for finishing third and is now battling for the title in runner-up spot behind Schneider. Martin Tomczyk, who had been leading in the championship before the Norisring round, had to park his car with damage in the pit box following a collision with Susie Stoddart and Paul di Resta (both Mercedes-Benz) on the opening lap.
After heavy rain on Saturday at the Norisring, that is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, the second shortest circuit on the DTM calendar with only 2.3 kilometres presented itself from the sunny side. 141,000 fans witnessed the fifth DTM round of the season and saw a race that was largely dominated by pit stop strategy. The safety car was deployed following a collision involving Mathias Lauda (Mercedes-Benz) and Vanina Ickx (Audi) on lap 22. This forced the teams to adapt their planned strategies to the situation. The victim of this was crowd favourite Mika Häkkinen with the AMG Mercedes C-Class, who lost valuable positions after his pit stop because the field was so closely together. Having started second, Häkkinen crossed the finish line in ninth place. Gary Paffett benefited and finished fourth. Paffett already won at the Norisring in 2004 and 2005.
Second-best Audi driver in the 333rd race of DTM and ITC was Tom Kristensn in fifth place. The popular Dane made his comeback in the DTM this weekend after his serious accident in the Hockenheim season opener. Behind sixth-placed Jamie Green (Mercedes-Benz), Greek Alexandros Margaritis was delighted with his seventh place. The Mercedes-Benz driver showed a good performance, making up eleven positions after having started 18th. He was followed by Alexandre Prémat (Audi), Mika Häkkinen and Christian Abt (Audi), who announced his retirement at the end of the season at the Norisring.
Thus, the lead in the championship is changing again. Bernd Schneider has 25.5 points ahead of Ekström (24) and Tomczyk (20). The next DTM racing weekend is taking place in Mugello, Italy, from July 13th till 15th.
Bruno Spengler (winner, DaimlerChrysler Bank AMG Mercedes): “This victory was very important. Now, I am back in the race for the title and I am very happy with that. In the first four races, I was always close, but never made it to victory. Today, everything was all right.“
Bernd Schneider (2nd place, Original-Teile AMG Mercedes): “The outcome of the race is fair, Bruno was simply the quickest man of the weekend. My car was perfect and towards the end of the race I could close up to Bruno, but closing up is one thing, getting past is something different.“
Mattias Ekström (3rd place, Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline): “Finishing third after having started seventh is a good performance. But today, my set-up was so good that I could even have won. Unfortunately, I was having problems with the brakes and a few other small things, so that I am generally happy with the result.“
Mercedes-Benz motorsport director Norbert Haug: “It was a great, but also a very hard race. With Bruno Spengler and Bernd Schneider, we have scored a double win, which is always good. I am especially happy with this win for Bruno. He is now back in the race for the title in a very strong way. Congratulations also to Mattias Ekström and Audi. Now, there are five or six drivers being able to fight for the title, that is good for the sport. Unfortunately, Mika Häkkinen became victim of the safety car phase and thus wasn’t able to use his advantage for a pit stop. I feel sorry for him because of this. In the race result and the championship, he isn’t were he could have been, the performance is there.”