DTM » 1 January 1901
Spengler on pole after Mercedes demonstration.
Bruno Spengler maintained Mercedes' 100 per cent qualifying record this season with pole position in the third round of the DTM at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz following a session utterly dominated by the three-pointed star.
The second time this season Spengler will start from the top spot, it also marks the third pole of the year for the latest generation C-Class, a car that has yet to convert its qualifying pace into strong race speed.
Still, there is a good chance the 2007 model will celebrate a maiden win this weekend after all four HWA-prepared cars qualified inside the top five, not least because the challenge from Audi appears worryingly slight after only Alex Premat managed to get his A4 into the final qualifying session.
Indeed, Mercedes have been the class act throughout practice and this was displayed throughout qualifying when C-Class' locked out the top five in all three knockout stages, Audi appearing to struggle on a circuit that has often favoured their rivals in the past.
Their cause was badly hit in the first qualifying session when five of their armada were knocked out, only Susie Stoddart managing to spare the Ingolstadt marque's from a total washout in 17th.
The early results had in fact hinted at a major upset in the loss of Mika Hakkinen, but the Finn hooked a lap together to move comfortably into the next session, in doing so helping contribute to pushing Oschersleben sparring partner Mike Rockenfeller out of the running, the German nowhere near the front-row winning pace he enjoyed two weeks ago.
He will start 15th, ahead of Rosberg team-mate Lucas Luhr, Stoddart, Christian Abt and DTM returnee Markus Winkelhock, while Vanina Ickx once again brings up the rear.
With five already out, Audi pinned their hopes of the remaining half of their line-up to take the fight to Mercedes, but they would instead see another four of their cars fail to make it through to the top-eight shootout.
These included three of the works Abt-prepared A4s of Mattias Ekstrom, Timo Scheider and Martin Tomczyk, the former tipped out at the last moment by a strong lap from Alexandros Margaritis. They will line-up ninth, tenth and eleventh, ahead of the other Audi of Adam Carroll, who at least had the satisfaction of out-qualifying Oschersleben winner Gary Paffett, while Mathias Lauda also failed to make the cut in 14th.
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