DTM » 29 October 2006
On form Spengler closes season with fourth win.
A fourth win of the season has cemented the runner-up spot for Bruno Spengler in the DTM standings, the Canadian triumphing after a bruising and controversial encounter at the Hockenheim season finale.
In a race that saw only eleven drivers reach the chequered flag after several on-track clashes, most notably Audi team-mates Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Mattias Ekstrom, Spengler crossed the line just ahead of Mercedes team-mate Jamie Green, with Tom Kristensen coming out top in a fierce battle with Bernd Schneider for the final podium spot.
With Frentzen starting the race from his first ever DTM pole position, the German eased into an early lead, ahead of Green and Martin Tomczyk, the duo benefiting from a slow starting Spengler to go second and third.
Further back though, Frank Stippler was forced out on the first lap for the second race in succession after colliding with Alex Margaritis, while Mathias Lauda was also delayed when he spun following a tap from Vanina Ickx in her repaired Audi.
Up at the front though Frentzen was not looking like the faster driver on the circuit, with Green becoming bottled up behind him to the point that he made an attempted at passing him, only to run wide and allow Tomczyk and Spengler through.
Any hopes that Tomczyk would shield Frentzen though were ruined when Spengler made a move on the German the very next lap to get back up into second place, while Green and Kristensen were also able to find a way past the hobbled Audi.
It did not take long for the first wave of pit stops to start, with Kristensen's determination to beat Spengler to second place in the championship forcing him to adopt a risky strategy of pitting on lap six, along with Timo Scheider and Mika Hakkinen. In an attempt to counter this threat, newly crowned champion Bernd Schneider entered the pit lane on lap ten, but was unable to find the time in the clear space to emerge in front, instead rejoining just behind the Dane.
Still, Spengler was doing quite alright on his own at the head of the field, out-braking Frentzen for the lead on lap eleven after a few feigned moves the laps before. Frentzen's disappointment was further compounded when he pitted straight after and came out of the pit lane behind Kristensen and Schneider, leaving him an effective fifth.
Indeed, the trio went on to embark on a thrilling tussle, with Schneider's attempt to pass Kristensen punished by locking up his front wheels, a mistake that allowed Frentzen back through.
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