31 August 2008
Brands Hatch 2008: Scheider keeps up the pressure.
Timo Scheider has extended his DTM championship lead after triumphing from pole position at Brands Hatch on the series' only British visit of the year – but not without some stern pressure form Mercedes-Benz's new standard-bearer Paul di Resta, who tracked the young German all the way to the chequered flag.
Despite clouds hanging overhead and a possible repeat of the unpredictable wet-dry experience at the Nürburgring feared, pole-sitter Scheider made a textbook getaway when the red lights went out, with fellow front row starter di Resta slotting into second place ahead of Bruno Spengler, Martin Tomczyk and home hero Oliver Jarvis, who had made a storming start around the outside in his year-old Audi A4.
Jamie Green would deprive his countryman of the position with a bold move all the way around the outside of Paddock Hill Bend at the start of lap two, with the subsequent loss of momentum allowing reigning DTM Champion Mattias Ekström to sneak past his Audi team-mate into the bargain.
Further back, meanwhile, Mathias Lauda found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time as some door-banging ensued and Maro Engel was spun around into the luckless young Austrian's path, causing a collision and leaving both firmly at the rear of the field, with Susie Stoddart having made promising early progress up in 15th ahead of Mercedes-Benz team-mate and ex-Formula 1 ace Ralf Schumacher.
Scheider had eked out a 1.7-second advantage over di Resta within just four laps, with news that both third-placed Spengler and Alex Prémat – who had been passed by the fellow Audi of Tom Kristensen for eleventh place – were under investigation, though no further action was subsequently taken.
With rain beginning to spit, wet tyres were being readied in the pit-lane as the pit-stop window began to approach, with Spengler, Tomcyzk, Green and Ekstrom all closing up in the battle over third place, albeit some five seconds adrift of the two race leaders, and Jarvis heading Gary Paffett in the final points-paying positions in seventh and eighth, and the highest two drivers in year-old machinery.
Behind the British duo, Mike Rockenfeller, record-breaking title-winner Bernd Schneider and Kristensen were waging a fraught scrap over ninth place, with light contact between the two Germans into Druids on lap 19.
Scheider's lead as the cars started to peel into the pits lay at just under two seconds, as Spengler was the first man to blink at the end of lap 21 – exactly a quarter of the way through the 82-lap encounter. Team-mate Schneider followed suit, as did Kristensen, Markus Winkelhock and Katherine Legge, the latter enduring a lengthy ten-second delay as all four remained on slick rubber.
The leaders, though, carried on, with di Resta closing the gap separating him from his quarry to 1.5 seconds and Christijan Albers running very wide through Paddock Hill Bend. Di Resta was the next man in, the Scot similarly remaining on dry tyres but perhaps crucially rejoining the fray right behind the Audi of Rockenfeller.
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