Crash.Net DTM News
Zandvoort 2006: Second win for Kristensen
3 September 2006
Tom Kristensen gave his title hopes a boost in the seventh round of the DTM Championship at Zandvoort, the Dane storming to his second victory of the season and edging the gap down to Bernd Schneider with just three races remaining.
Although qualifying proved something of a blip on what has been an otherwise Audi showcase of a weekend, Kristensen wasted no time in dispersing pole sitter Jamie Green, going on to take victory by less than a second over championship rival Schneider, the German using his experience to battle up from seventh on the grid.
Nonetheless, it was the Ingolstadt marque that would go on to fill third, fifth and sixth by the chequered flag, courtesy of Martin Tomczyk, Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Timo Scheider respectively, while Bruno Spengler, Stefan Mucke and Jamie Green claimed the other points positions in fourth, seventh and eighth.
The race for Kristensen was arguably made as soon as the race got underway, with Green, starting from his fourth pole position of the season, bogging down and coming out of the first corner already down in fifth place. Tomczyk, Mattias Ekstrom and Frentzen slipped ahead into second, third and fourth, although Green would re-pass the ex-F1 driver before the end of the lap
Further back, Futurecom TME had an embarrassing moment when they witnessed their two drivers Nicolas Kiesa and Vanina Ickx come together at Masters, the latter having to retire when her bonnet came loose.
With passing on the twisty Dutch circuit notoriously difficult, race position was always likely to be somewhat decided during the two mandatory pit stops, although that did not deter Mika Hakkinen as attempted to pass Christian Abt. However, the circuit's reputation came to haunt him when he was unable to stop in time, knocking the German off into retirement, leaving the Finn to cop a drive-through penalty and effectively ending his race chances.
Just two laps later Ekstrom would come together with Frank Stippler, the latter being forced off the track and with its diffuser missing and although the reigning champion would escape a penalty this time around, he did receive a warning.
With the first round of pit stops over and half of the race completed, the front of the field remained unchanged, with Kristensen holding a slender lead over Tomczyk, the German nonetheless unlikely to challenge for victory against his title contending team-mate.
Nonetheless, his role holding station behind Kristensen would now have more prominence after Schneider moved his way into third place from seventh on the grid, ahead of Alex Margaritis, battling up from having to start at the back of the grid following a penalty in qualifying when he collided with another driver, Stefan Mucke, Ekstrom and Green, the latter having slipped back further following his pit stop.
Margaritis, who at this point had been battling with the very person he had collided with in qualifying, Mucke, was almost losing control of his Mercedes coming out of the Arie Luyendijk corner, a moment traced to a problem with the left rear-wheel and the Greek driver being forced into retirement.
Promoting Ekstrom and Green into fifth and sixth, the recovering Brit was continuing to put pressure on the Swede for a spot in the top five, only to go up the inside at Tarzan and collide with his rival and send him bouncing across the gravel trap and well out of the points at the chequered flag.
Once again, the stewards took a dim view of his actions and gave him, like team-mate Hakkinen, a drive-through penalty, dropping him back to a rather unsatisfying eighth place at the finish.
Up at the front though, Kristensen was heading for a crucial victory, although he will have been dismayed to see it was Schneider tailing him across the finish line, the German finding his way past Tomczyk, who in turn recorded his second straight podium finish of the year.
Norisring and Nurburgring winner Bruno Spengler finished a lonely fourth to consolidate his third place in the championship, ahead of Frentzen, who in turn moves into sixth place in the standings.
Sixth place was Scheider's his best result of the season, the German coming home as the leading year-old competitor, while Mucke finished seventh in a similarly aged car. Green settled for eighth and the final point, but his already slim championship hopes are officially over.
Indeed, with rounds at Barcelona, Le Mans and Hockenheim remaining, only Schneider, who leads the standings by ten points, Kristensen and Spengler can mathematically win the championship now. It is all still to play for, but four-time champion Schneider's unfailing consistency is making him difficult to beat…