10 June 2007
Brands Hatch 2007: Schneider wins strategic race.
Bernd Schneider claimed a historic 38th DTM win at a sunny Brands Hatch following a thriller of race that turned into a surprise head to head between himself and Martin Tomczyk.
In a race defined by strategy rather than overtaking manoeuvres, neither Schneider nor Tomczyk had featured too much all weekend but nonetheless came good when it mattered to embark on a exciting tête-à-tête that eventually saw the elder German prevail.
A much more competitive battle between Mercedes and Audi over the course of the race, four C-Class' and four A4s featured in the points, but it was the Stuttgart marque that prevailed for the third time this season, even if the identity of the winning driver remained a mystery for much of the race.
Indeed, from the off it was Bruno Spengler that got the best getaway, defying pole sitter Mika Hakkinen into Paddock Hill Bend by surging round the outside of the Finn to claim the lead. Third place Alex Premat, who arguably got the best start of the front runners, tried something similar but instead slipped behind Audi counterpart Mattias Ekstrom by Druids.
Not all drivers made it through the hairpin though after a flurry of contact resulted in the retirement of championship leader Paul di Resta and Mike Rockenfeller. The chain reaction appeared to be kicked off by Timo Scheider, who got into the back of team-mate Markus Winkelhock, spinning him round as a result.
The confusion of avoiding the revolving Audi forced drivers to take evasive action, including Alex Margaritis, who in turn went into the side of di Resta to force him into the gravel and out of the race, ending a bitterly disappointing homecoming for the erstwhile leader.
Rockenfeller was also out on the spot, albeit only after arriving at the accident late following a poor start and sliding off in sympathy, while Vanina Ickx, Adam Carroll and Susie Stoddart were also caught up, but managed to continue.
With the safety car off the track at the end of lap six and the pit lane opening as a result, the first few strategists attempted their method of pitting early to gain an advantage. These included Schneider, Jamie Green Gary Paffett and Christian Abt, the quartet all entering the pit lane within three laps of each other.
From here the order became increasingly tricky to fathom as strategies played out, but at the front Spengler, Hakkinen and Ekstrom began pulling out a gap, the trio leaving Premat behind.
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