Paul di Resta claimed the spoils for Mercedes-Benz after a typically busy four-day DTM group test at the Hockenheimring Baden-W?rttemberg that saw cars from both the major marques cover a distance equivalent to a trip nearly halfway around the world.

As they had at Dijon earlier in the month, each of the drivers expected to feature in this year's championship got useful track time, although there were the usual setbacks during the week for some. There was also further encouragement for those using the older 2008-spec versions of Mercedes and Audi as they mixed it with the latest models when it came to setting the pace.

The final fastest time of the test fell, on Thursday afternoon, to Mercedes' Bruno Spengler, the Canadian using team-mate Gary Paffett's Salzgitter-backed AMG C-Class to cross the line in 1min 32.994secs. Audi's Mike Rockenfeller finished second on the timesheets, just 0.046secs behind Spengler, while third place went to di Resta's Trilux AMG entry. However, the Scot had already stolen a march on his rivals, using the morning session to clock a 1min 32.736secs lap, the best time of the entire test.

Rockenfeller took the honours for covering the greatest distance during the four-day session, completing 236 laps at the wheel of his 2008-spec Audi A4 DTM, and sitting ahead of Spengler, on 220, and di Resta, with 217. Only rookie Christian Bakkerud - whose GP2 misfortune appeared to follow him as he had to sit out a large part of the test after a brake-related crash on Monday - failed to complete a century of laps, having to settle for just 98 and last spot in that category.

Ironically, di Resta completed fewer than 30 laps in the session that he set the fastest time, topping the charts ahead of Audi's Alexandre Pr?mat - who also broke the 1min 33secs barrier with his 2008-spec A4 DTM. By the end of the session, however, no fewer than nine of the eleven drivers on track had got to within a second of di Resta's pace.

di Resta had set the pace on day three, lowering the benchmark to an interim 1min 33.378secs using Ralf Schumacher's regular mount and heading double champion Mattias Ekstrom by 0.046secs as the Swede got to grips with Audi's test car. Audi's Oliver Jarvis had been the quickest in the morning session, but finished third only third in the afternoon, despite improving his morning time by more than three tenths.

Fourth was secured by the busiest man of the afternoon session, Spengler, who completed 68 laps as he kept his Mercedes ahead of reigning champion Timo Scheider, Markus Winkelhock, Katherine Legge and Tom Kristensen. Mathias Lauda, who was 1.3secs slower than di Resta, rounded out the top ten.

Jarvis' Wednesday morning showing underlined that the Briton can be considered a threat to the front of the field in his second year in the series, the Audi man topping the times for the third time in four sessions to that point. Mercedes duo Spengler and Jamie Green both tried to dislodge Jarvis' red-and-white A4 from the top of the charts, but to no avail.

The only long run of that particular session was executed by di Resta, the Scot completing 23 laps - roughly a half-race distance - in one go. Following his fastest lap at the beginning of the stint, the Mercedes driver consistently set 1min 35secs times and, by the end of the day, had completed a total of 63 laps.

The second day had seen Scheider set the fastest time with the Audi test car, clocking 1min 33.774secs after the previously wet track had dried. However, it wasn't a good enough effort to beat Jarvis' day one pace. Paffett took his 2009-spec Mercedes to second position - just two-hundredths slower - while third fell to Pr?mat.

Jarvis' 1min 33.272secs lap from Monday proved to be 0.502secs faster than Scheider could manage a day later, but the session threw up some curios as the reigning champion suffered the same fate as Audi team-mates Ekstr?m and Martin Tomczyk by achieving the lowest top speed in the process of setting fast lap times. Bakkerud, meanwhile, took his older Audi to the clear highest speed - some 280kph through the traps - but had to settle for coming last on the timesheets, some 1.892secs behind Scheider.

At the wheel of his 2008-spec AMG Mercedes C-Class, Maro Engel covered the biggest mileage of the afternoon and, at the end of 71 laps - representing a total mileage of 324.754km - had set an impressive fourth fastest time.

In Tuesday morning's wet conditions, Rockenfeller clocked the fastest time of 1min 51.039secs and overturning the memory of the Mercedes works drivers appearing second to none in changeable conditions at Dijon. 'Rocky' was 0.487secs faster than the second-placed Audi of Martin Tomczyk, while the four rings also occupied the remainder of the top courtesy of Kristensen - in the test car - Pr?mat and Ekstr?m.

Behind them, Mercedes secured positions six to nine, with Paffett at the head of the queue but some 1.347secs slower than Rockenfeller. The Briton was followed by Stoddart, Engel and Schumacher.

Jarvis had opened the test by reprising his day one pace-setting from Dijon, but there were a couple of notable events during the session, as Engel received his first outing of 2009, finishing second ahead of team-mate Paffett, and Bakkerud was forced to watch from the stands as his morning session was brought to an abrupt end by contact with the barriers. The Team Kolles Futurecom-TME rookie was largely uninjured in the incident, which the team determined as being the result of brake failure, but suffered a recurrence of the back pain which decimated his GP2 career and prevented an immediate return to action.


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