Warsteiner AMG Mercedes driver Uwe Alzen won the ninth and penultimate round of the 2001 DTM at Zandvoort, Netherlands over the weekend.

After 24 laps and a thrilling finish, Alzen crossed the finish line 0.3sec ahead of Abt-Audi TT-R driver Christian Abt. Bernd Schneider, who had prematurely defended his championship title two weeks ago for D2 AMG Mercedes, came home third 0.6sec behind. Alzen achieved his fifth DTM victory, his second this year and for Mercedes-Benz.

Alzen had qualified seventh fastest and finished the eight-lap qualifying race in the same place while pole setter Abt won. In the main race, the safety car was deployed from the end of the third until the beginning of the eighth lap, following a collision between Martin Tomczyk (Abt-Audi TT-R) and Peter Mamerow (Opel Astra V8 Coup?). After the re-start, Abt was still in the lead and Alzen was seventh.

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Between lap eight and 13, the drivers pitted for the compulsory tyre change; Alzen came into the pits on lap nine. On lap 14 he was second behind Abt. Until the 20th lap, Alzen closed the gap behind the leading Abt-Audi from more than three to less than one second. On the final lap, Alzen attacked and both the leading cars passed the last three corners door to door with the Mercedes driver crossing the finish line first.

''This was one of my best duels, our cars touched several times but everything was fair,'' Alzen said. ''I think this was very entertaining for the fans.'' In the season's final at Hockenheim on 7 October, he needs one more point to clinch the runner-up position in the championship.

Bernd Schneider, after an off in qualifying, started the qualifying race 14th on the grid and improved to tenth at the chequered flag. In the main race, he charged through the field to third, also supported by a well executed pit stop strategy of his team.

Schneider said: ''A great race. After starting 14th I'm really happy with my third-place finish. This was good motor sport, and I had the best position to watch the fight in front of me closely.''

Patrick Huisman in the Eschmann-Stahl AMG Mercedes finished fourth in his home race. ''During the pit stop, we had a problem with the nut at the right rear wheel which cost me three or four seconds, therefore I dropped behind Uwe and Bernd. Otherwise a podium finish would have been possible,'' the Dutchman said. His team mate Bernd Mayl?nder retired in the qualifying race after an accident and was not able to start the main event.

Schneider's team mate Peter Dumbreck had qualified third fastest and was the best Mercedes driver. In the qualifying race he finished third as well. When he rejoined the main race after his pit stop on lap 8, he had a coming together with Laurent Aiello (Abt-Audi TT-R) and received a stop-and-go penalty. After this extra pit stop Dumbreck came home seventh. ''They gave me the signal to start, but suddenly I felt an impact on the left side of the car,'' the Scotsman said. ''Before that I hadn't realised Aiello (was there).''

Marcel F?ssler in the Warsteiner AMG Mercedes ended up fifth after an exciting fight with Timo Scheider, who was the best Opel driver in sixth place.

Service 24h AMG Mercedes driver Darren Turner, sixth in qualifying, ran wide on the first lap of the qualifying race and finished eighth in the main race, ahead of his team mate David Saelens. Thomas J?ger in the Original-Teile AMG Mercedes was twelfth, his team mate Christijan Albers retired after an accident caused by a dirty track.

Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Director Norbert Haug commented: ''A great race and a festival of touring car racing in the DTM premiere at Zandvoort. The race was well organised, and the drivers raced with discipline after the morning's safety briefing. There have been some comings together, but no fouls. The crowd here and the TV spectators certainly enjoyed the race.''