Championship leader Tom Kristensen signalled his intentions to extend his lead in the fourth round of the DTM at Brands Hatch when he went quickest in Friday practice on a typically tight day.

However, while just over a second covered the 20-strong field, Kristensen moved top in the faster second session of the day by a comfortable two tenths from championship rival Bernd Schneider, the German proving the fastest Mercedes in a session when they overtook their Audi rivals as the team to beat in the afternoon.

Mattias Ekstrom led the three ex-F1 participants in third place with Mika Hakkinen, Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Jean Alesi filling places fourth, fifth and sixth places respectively, while works Mercedes drivers Bruno Spengler and Jamie Green secured seventh and eighth places to make it six 'three-pointed stars' in the top eight.

Morning pace setter Pierre Kaffer was ninth, just ahead of his Team Phoenix team-mate Christian Abt in tenth place, while Martin Tomczyk was eleventh fastest. Mathias Lauda put in a strong performance in his 2004-specification Mercedes for twelfth place.

Further down the order, DTM returnee Jeroen Bleekemolen hauled his Futurecom TME Audi up to 15th fastest, but Susie Stoddart could not maintain her 15th place from the morning, the Scot slipping to 19th in the afternoon, albeit just half a second off the top ten.

Friday Practice Times

1. Tom Kristensen Audi Sport Team Abt 43.158secs
2. Bernd Schneider Vodafone AMG Mercedes 43.340secs
3. Mattias Ekstrom Audi Sport Team Abt Sports line 43.407secs
4. Mika Hakkinen AMG Mercedes 43.412secs
5. Heinz-Harald Frentzen Audi Sport Team Abt 43.440secs
6. Jean Alesi Stern AMG Mercedes 43.456secs
7. Bruno Spengler Daimler-Chrysler AMG Mercedes 43.469secs
8. Jamie Green Salzgitter AMG Mercedes 43.469secs
9. Pierre Kaffer Audi Sport Team Phoenix 43.497secs
10. Christian Abt Audi Sport Team Phoenix 43.508secs
11. Martin Tomczyk Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline 43.524secs
12. Mathias Lauda Junge Gebrauchte AMG Mercedes 43.679secs
13. Alexandros Margaritis Easy Rent AMG Mercedes 43.729secs
14. Frank Stippler Audi Sport Team Rosberg 43.731secs
15. Jeroen Bleekemolen Furturecom TME Audi 43.732secs
16. Timo Scheider Audi Sport Team Rosberg 43.749secs
17. Daniel La Rosa TrekStor AMG Mercedes 43.802secs
18. Stefan MuckeTV-Spielfilm Mucke Mercedes 43.829secs
19. Susie Stoddart AutoScout AMG Mercedes 44.115secs
20. Vanina Ickx Futurecom TME Audi 44.396secs

[NB: All times taken from the faster second session]