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Crash, bang, wallop for Audi returnees
1 January 1901
Alex Prémat picked up where he had left off upon his return to DTM competition in round three at the Eurospeedway Lausitz last weekend – by ending his weekend in spectacular fashion in the crash barriers.
This time, thankfully, the Frenchman was able to walk away unharmed, thereby avoiding another lengthy hospital stay like the one that had caused him to miss the second meeting at Oschersleben two weeks beforehand. The former GP2 star also showed a highly encouraging turn of speed at the modified East German circuit, leading the Audi charge in qualifying – despite being at the wheel of a year-old machine – and running as high as fifth place during the race.
“I'm deeply disappointed,” the 25-year-old admitted afterwards. “We were in a good position to fight with our Mercedes rivals, but then the safety car periods followed which destroyed our race.
“When I wanted to overtake Gary (Paffett), I touched him slightly and pulled towards the right. Maybe he braked after that, because I hit him hard. At first glance my car looks pretty much as though it were destroyed, but the damage is not so bad.”
The meeting also ended prematurely for series returnee Markus Winkelhock, stepping into the breach in place of Tom Kristensen in the Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline fold as the Dane continues to recover from the opening round smash. After struggling for pace weekend-long, Spyker's Formula 1 test-driver then came together with Mercedes' Mathias Lauda early in the race, the incident that would prove the catalyst for all the ensuing safety car confusion.
“The start was ok,” the German acknowledged. “In turn one I restrained myself because I didn't want to risk an accident, then during the first few laps I was behind Lucas Luhr and kept his pace. My car started understeering but that was easy to control.
“Mathias Lauda was following me later, and exiting the slower corners he was a little faster than me. Then he slightly hit my rear inside wheel and passed me but didn't give me any chance at the beginning of the start-finish straight and pushed me into the tyre stacks where my car got caught.”
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