DTM » 1 January 1901
Maiden pole for plucky Frentzen.
Heinz-Harald Frentzen has taken a somewhat surprise maiden pole position in the final round of the DTM Championship at Hockenheim, the German having been lucky to even make the final shootout session.
It is the ex-F1 driver's first pole position in three years of competing in the DTM and it was done in the final minute of a qualifying session that saw the momentum continuously swing between Audi and Mercedes through the hour.
Bruno Spengler will start alongside him, with Jamie Green and Martin Tomczyk locking out the second row and Tom Kristensen rounding out the top five.
With 19 drivers taking to the track in the first knockout session after Vanina Ickx was ruled out following her smash in morning practice, only five drivers would therefore feel the axe at the end of the ten minutes.
However, while there were few surprises at the lower end of the grid, with Mathias Lauda, Thed Bjork and Susie Stoddart upholding their reputation at the tail end in their 2004-specification machines, the elimination of Alex Margaritis and Jean Alesi were rather more unexpected, the former Mercedes driver in particular well off the pace having reached the final shootout at Le Mans and Barcelona.
Alesi though, who has already stated his intention to walk away from the DTM after this weekend, was agonisingly close to sneaking into the second session after missing out on a place by just 0.001secs, the owner of that crucial thousandth of a second belonging to eventual pole sitter Frentzen.
Indeed, Frentzen continued to ride his luck in the second knockout session, the German seemingly struggling to get a clean lap before popping up into the top eight in the closing seconds of the session and once again live to fight another day.
He was not the only driver leaving it somewhat late after newly crowned champion Bernd Schneider waited until the final stages to leap to the top of the timesheets, just as he did in the first session. He would eventually prove second quickest overall though when his time was beaten by Martin Tomczyk.
Frentzen and Schneider's gain was Stefan Mucke's loss though, the German just missing out on a spot in the top eight shootout by a tiny margin. Nonetheless, he will start ninth ahead of Christian Abt, an off-song Mattias Ekstrom, Timo Scheider, Pierre Kaffer and Frank Stippler.
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