DTM » 08 April 2006
Green on pole as Mercedes fill top three.
Jamie Green has taken up where Gary Paffett left off by putting his Mercedes C-Class on pole position for the first race of the DTM season at Hockenheim, in a session that saw the three-pointed star largely dominate.
Taking part in a new shootout system similar to that used in Formula One, Green outpaced DTM stalwart Bernd Schneider to take his third career pole position at the wheel of the Salzgitter C-Class, while new works-backed driver Bruno Spengler made it three AMG-Mercedes' in the top three. It was a particularly impressive result for the Canadian as he only scraped into the second session and then left it late to sneak into the final reckoning too.
Martin Tomczyk emerged as the best placed Audi driver, the German taking his Abt Sportsline A4 to fourth on the grid, just ahead of another Mercedes, this time of Stefan Mucke, the German impressing in his 2004-specification car.
2004 champion Mattias Ekstrom was a disappointing sixth place, just edging out former F1 drivers Mika Hakkinen and Heinz-Harald Frentzen, the latter making his Audi debut having spent two seasons with the now withdrawn Opel team.
The new qualifying system sees six cars 'knocked out' after ten minutes and then another ten minutes decides the final eight positions that will be fought over in the final session.
Unsurprisingly the new system caught a number of drivers unawares and caused a few upsets. Although there were some expected faces out after the first session, Christian Abt and Jean Alesi were the surprise losers, the German and the Frenchman managing just 15th and 16th on the grid.
They were followed by four of the five rookies that will line up on the grid, with Susie Stoddart making a respectable DTM qualifying debut in 17th, beating her more experienced rivals of Mathias Lauda, Olivier Tielmens, who spun early on, and Vanina Ickx.
The biggest news to come out of the second knockout session was the elimination of pre-season favourite Tom Kristensen, the Dane being forced out by a fast finishing Bruno Spengler. Kristensen will line up in ninth place, just ahead of top rookie Daniel La Rosa who eclipsed his direct debutant rivals with an excellent top ten starting position.
Frank Stippler, Alexandros Margaritis, DTM-returnee Timo Scheider and Pierre Kaffer filled places 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th.
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