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Alesi's day, Bernd's year in dramatic DTM finale

The 2003 DTM season boiled down to 37 laps around the new Hockenheim Grand Prix circuit on Sunday with veteran Bernd Schneider and young gun Christijan Albers knowing that whoever crossed the line first out of the two of them would take the glory.

In front of more than 100,000 passionate touring car fans, it was Schneider's guile that won the day as Albers challenge became derailed just as the young Dutchman looked set to beat the 'Meister' on his home turf.

Both drivers had to overcome their share of hurdles, a legacy of mediocre qualifying performances in the wet on Saturday but, in true Championship winning style, Schneider had a little bit better luck than Albers.

From fifth on the grid Schneider's Vodafone-AMG Mercedes battled Peter Dumbreck in the opening laps for third place through the first round of pit stops while Albers struggled to deal with the Opel of Timo Scheider in seventh spot following a poor first stop.

Things were still pretty much up in the air despite Schneider's slender early advantage when Albers ran wide entering the Stadium section on lap 16 and lost valuable seconds. However Schneider had little time to celebrate as less than half a lap later he suffered a left rear puncture, crucially though just one turn away from pit exit and just inside the second pit window.

Schneider's early second stop initially dropped him to twelfth, putting Albers in control of his own destiny even though he still had to make his final stop. However Timo Scheider was still proving a tough nut to crack and it wasn't until the Opel man made his final stop on lap 20 did Albers get into some clean air.

Schneider's comeback drive was already gathering steam and when Albers made his final stop at the end of lap 21, Schneider had overcome the time lost with the puncture and still held a slender lead over his rival with the aptly named Scheider acting as a buffer.

Schneider couldn't breathe too easily however as less than two seconds covered all three drivers and although the race was for sixth place on the track, all eyes were focused on it.

On lap 23 Schneider lost a small amount of ground coming out of the third turn and Scheider was quickly crawling all over the rear end of the #4 Mercedes heading into the tight Hockenheim hairpin. One lap later it was Albers' turn to attack, his slight nudge sending Scheider into a lazy spin and the crowd wild as the two title combatants finally locked horns.



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Bernd Schneider celebrates victory at the opening DTM round at Hockenheim
Christijan Albers - Service 24h AMG-Mercedes
Jean Alesi on the pitwall at the new Adria international circuit
Robert Wickens - Mercedes AMG C-Coupe [pic credit: DTM Media]
Christian Vietoris - Mercedes AMG C-Coupe [pic credit: DTM Media]
Vitaly Petrov - Mercedes AMG C-Coupe [pic credit: DTM Media]
Gary Paffett - Mercedes AMG C-Coupe [pic credit: DTM Media]
Daniel Juncadella - Mercedes AMG C-Coupe [pic credit: DTM Media]
Paul di Resta - Mercedes AMG C-Coupe [pic credit: DTM Media]
Robert Wickens - Mercedes AMG C-Coupe [pic credit: DTM Media]
Vitaly Petrov - Mercedes AMG C-Coupe [pic credit: DTM Media]
Gary Paffett - Mercedes AMG C-Coupe [pic credit: DTM Media]
Daniel Juncadella - Mercedes AMG C-Coupe [pic credit: DTM Media]
Paul di Resta - Mercedes AMG C-Coupe [pic credit: DTM Media]
Paul di Resta - Mercedes AMG C-Coupe [pic credit: DTM Media]
Christian Vietoris - Mercedes AMG C-Coupe [pic credit: DTM Media]
Christian Vietoris - Mercedes AMG C-Coupe [pic credit: DTM Media]
Vitaly Petrov - Mercedes AMG C-Coupe [pic credit: DTM Media]

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