Ex British Touring Car Champion Laurent Aiello scored Audi's first victory in the re-packaged DTM Championship in Sunday's chaotic seven lap Sprint Race at the Nurburgring.

Frenchman and multiple Touring Car Champion Laurent Aiello mastered the notoriously treacherous Nurburgring conditions to take Sunday's seven lap Sprint Race from Abt Sportsline team-mate Martin Tomczyk on an emotional day for the privateer team who have spent the past year tirelessly developing the seemingly reluctant Audi TT-R against the might of the factory backed Mercedes and Opel outfits.

A combination of hard work and leniency by the series organisers in allowing them to increase the stubby-looking machines' wheel base has turned the bright yellow cars into real contenders with Aiello and newcomer Tomczyk holding first and second from start to finish as those around them made mistakes on the slippery circuit, taking its time to dry after early morning showers.

Taking advantage of a first corner pile-up involving second row starters Marcel Fassler and defending DTM Champion Bernd Schneider, Aiello and Tomczyk gained a crucial early advantage as Mattias Ekstrom in a third TT-R and Tomas Jager in the 2000 spec Persson Mercedes disputed fourth. Although Tomczyk never looked like threatening Aiello, the young German ex-Formula 3 driver deserved special praise as he dropped just over three seconds in the ensuing seven laps and finished a full seven seconds clear of eventual third place finisher Peter Dumbreck.

The Scotsman was able to charge through the first corner mayhem from ninth on the grid and he lay fifth behind Ekstrom and Jager and just ahead of the recovering Fassler by the end of lap one. A good tussle with his two Mercedes stablemates ensued with Fassler gaining the upper hand at one point before dropping down the order to eighth at the flag with the handling of his damaged machine going away.

Jager just missed out on a point with fourth spot although he kept up the pressure on Dumbreck right to the flag as did Pedro Lamy who held off a seething Schneider for fifth place.

The finishing order for the first race decides the grid for the second feature event later in the day and several drivers will have a lot of work to do if they are to contend for victory including the entire Opel Astra brigade who looked even more uncompetitive here in race trim than they did at Hockenheim two weeks ago.

Occupying the last seven finishing positions from 14th on back, Yves Olivier in the leading Astra was a full ten seconds behind the slowest of the Mercedes' (Christijan Albers) at the flag. Alan Menu and Jo Winkelhock both had off course excursions during the race and finished a lowly 17th and 19th respectively although at least they will be taking the start again later this afternoon unlike fellow Opel driver Manuel Reuter who lost control of his Team Phoenix machine going into the hairpin on the opening lap and speared off the circuit at a great rate of knots before damaging the car beyond immediate repair.


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