DTM » 22 July 2006
Green heads Mercedes top five.
Jamie Green claimed his third DTM pole position of the year following a typically tight qualifying session around the streets of Nurnberg and the Norisring.
It was an immensely successful session for Mercedes, who have traditionally had the upper hand over their Audi rivals, with five of their drivers locking out the top five places. It was Green though who led the way, ahead of championship leader Bernd Schneider and Bruno Spengler.
However, the gap between Green and eighth place Timo Scheider was less than half a second, while only a second a half separated the Brit from 20th place Vanina Ickx, despite the circuit getting quicker through the three knockout sessions.
With sunshine bathing the Norisring in sweltering temperatures, qualifying was expected to be a close affair, with some even predicting some lesser fancied names making a surprise appearance in the latter stages.
However, once the first 15 minutes was over, the familiar names largely remained, albeit in slightly different positions. Propping up the timesheets again was Ickx, who also spun under braking in her 2004 Audi A4, but it was Stefan Mucke in the 2005 Mercedes that will line-up alongside her on the back row of the grid.
Indeed, the German was outpaced by both 2004 C-Class', with Mathias Lauda just missing out on a place in the second stage for the first time by two hundredths of a second in 15th, while team-mate Susie Stoddart will start 17th, one place ahead of Joroen Bleekemolen, who had threatened to do more when he proved sixth fastest in practice.
The surprise loser in the first round though was Martin Tomczyk, the German failing to reach the second stage in his Red Bull Audi for the first time this year. Furthermore, the works Abt Audi team almost had a second entry making an early exit after Mattias Ekstrom avoided relegation by just one place. Indeed, it was the Swede that provided the two hundredth gap that prevented Lauda from reaching the second stage.
Nonetheless, he had qualified along with the all the regular competitors, including Daniel La Rosa, the German doing a sterling job in his year-old Mercedes to reach the next stage for the second race in a row.
The second knockout stage produced even fewer surprises, with perhaps the exception of Heinz-Harald Frentzen failing to make it through, the German having to settle for 12th on the grid. Indeed, it was a frustrating 15 minutes for Audi who saw four more of their cars fall by the wayside.
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