DTM » 1 January 1901
Spengler claims second straight win.
After his debut win in the last race at the Norisring, Bruno Spengler made it two DTM victories in a row with a dominant lights-to-flag win at the Nurburgring.
The Mercedes driver had qualified on pole position for the first time in his DTM career in dry weather conditions on Saturday but it was a wet circuit that greeted the drivers as they lined up on the grid for the start of the 42 lap race – with the pack electing to start on wet tyres although the rain was no longer falling.
As the lights went green, Spengler made the perfect start to lead the field into the first corner, but behind the Canadian, the field was four wide heading into the Mercedes Arena – with Christian Abt having made a fine start from seventh on the grid to jump up to second ahead of Bernd Schneider and Jamie Green. Mattias Ekstrom however was slow away and dropped down to 14th place.
Abt quickly dropped back the order as Schneider went second behind his fellow Mercedes man by the end of the lap, with Green up to third and Martin Tomczyk a fine fourth – having started from tenth on the grid.
During the opening laps, Spengler slowed extended his advantage out front, but behind, Green was in trouble as he slid down the order. On lap six he lost third to Tomczyk, and within a lap the Briton was also behind Le Mans legend Tom Kristensen who came by into fourth place. Losing places lap-by-lap, Green was soon fighting to just stay inside the top ten of the race.
With wet tyres starting to go off as the track dried, a number of drivers started to go off the track, with Kristensen and Jean Alesi – in his element in the tricky conditions early on – both running across the grass at the chicane. A poor display in qualifying had seen Frenchman Alesi starting from 15th on the grid but the red Mercedes was quickly slicing through the field and by lap 17 he was ahead of Kristensen and into fourth place behind Spengler, Schneider and Tomczyk.
Once the opening round of pitstops was complete, Spengler held a comfortable lead of nearly 15 seconds over Schneider, with Tomczyk still in third and Kristensen back into fourth having jumped ahead of Alesi. Heinz-Harald Frentzen was sixth, with Timo Scheider, Mika Hakkinen, Ekstrom and Green rounding out the top ten.
The front runners maintained position through the second round of stops, with the only changes amongst the top ten seeing Scheider drop behind Ekstrom and Hakkinen but there would be late drama for two of the leading runners.
First up, Kristensen locked up into the first turn to drop behind Alesi, while Hakkinen was forced to pit for a third time – the only driver to do so – with the laps counting down and dropped outside the top ten.
However out front, there was to be no challenge to Spengler who claimed his second straight victory, with championship leader Schneider and Tomczyk rounding out the podium places. Alesi took fourth with Kristensen and Frentzen rounding out the top six. The next three crossed the line almost together, with Scheider edging Ekstrom and Green for seventh, with Abt just ahead of Stefan Mucke to complete the top ten.
Hakkinens late stop left him to settle for twelfth, while only two cars failed to see the finish – Frank Stippler forced to pull out when his suspension collapsed and Susie Stoddart going off into the gravel.
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