Marcel Fassler qualified his Warsteiner AMG Mercedes on pole position for the third round of the 2001 DTM at Oschersleben.

On his fourth and final run, Marcel posted a time of 1:23.561, which was 1.434s faster than Bernd Schneider's pole time of last year. It was the first pole position for 24-year-old Marcel. A delighted Fassler said: "To be on pole in a DTM race for the first time is a fantastic feeling. Qualifying was a real thriller. Although I was fastest in the first and second sector, I aborted my third run because I made a little mistake in the third sector. I wanted to spare another run with a safe and fast lap in the end."

Bernd Schneider who just missed out on pole reckoned who could have gone faster if he hasn't messed up his last run. The 2000 DTM champion said: "Today a faster lap would have been possible but I didn't manage to get the optimum out of the car. My last run was my fastest until the third sector, but then I made a mistake which cost me the possible pole position."

A more exciting qualifying is hard to image. Laurent Aiello who was on provisional pole twice finally ended up second with a gap of 0.010sec. Bernd Schneider in the D2 AMG Mercedes, too, was on top of the time sheet twice but was third in the end with 0.031sec behind Marcel. The 13 fastest cars including two Opels beside the Mercedes and Audi were within 0.970sec. During qualifying the lead changed nine times.

Marcel Tiemann who substituted for injured Bernd Maylander in the Eschmann-Stahl AMG Mercedes qualified 15th although the qualifying was his first run in a DTM car since 29 October 2000. Bernd had broken his right heel-leg on Friday evening. Marcel received the call on Saturday morning and arrived at Oschersleben just 90 minutes before qualifying.

Tiemann said: "I'm really happy that Mercedes-Benz asked me to replace my friend Bernd Maylander for whom I feel very sorry. It's fun to race in the DTM again, however, I didn't drive a DTM car for seven months and arrived at Oschersleben just before qualifying. That explains my gap behind the top drivers. I'm confident that I will be able to drive faster in Sunday's race."

Rookie David Saelens who replaced Pedro Lamy in the Service 24h AMG Mercedes team, was 19th fastest in his first DTM event, but has to start from the back of the grid because he completed 13 instead of the allowed twelve qualifying laps.

Saelens who was disappointed to be demoted to the back of the field said: "Everything was new for me today. When I went out the first time it started to rain a little bit. That was a difficult situation as I had not driven the car in the wet before and I lost two runs. I just need more experience."

Other driver comments:

Uwe Alzen, Warsteiner AMG Mercedes, fourth (1:23.613): "On one hand, I'm a little angry to be on the second row, because the gap behind pole position is just 0.052sec. On the other hand, I'm satisfied with qualifying as I could demonstrate that I'm with the top drivers. A gap of less than a tenth is not much."

Peter Dumbreck, D2 AMG Mercedes, fifth (1:23.633): "Track conditions improved throughout and the car suited me better and better. When a few raindrops started to fall I had better waited some minutes to attack in the closing stages when the conditions were best. However I'm quite satisfied with a time less than a tenth of second behind pole position."

Patrick Huisman, Eschmann-Stahl AMG Mercedes, seventh (1:23.975): "On the out-lap of my second run I drove behind Marcel and saw that he was on a different line. I tried it his way and immediately had more grip which led to my provisional fourth place. Unfortunately, I had an off on my third run and yellow flags on my fourth and final run, therefore I was not able to further improve."

Thomas Jager, Original-Teile AMG Mercedes, ninth (1:24.072): "My first two runs could have been better. On my fourth run I came on a dirty part of the track in the Shell Esses which spoilt my lap."

Christijan Albers, Original-Teile AMG Mercedes, tenth (1:24.215): "On my first and second run I didn't get my tyres to the right temperature. The fourth run seemed to be quite good, but I just was not fast enough. I don't know why."

Darren Turner, Service 24 h AMG Mercedes, 14th (1:24.588): "After this morning's free practice we changed the set-up which was definitely a step in the right direction. In qualifying I managed my fastest lap of all practice sessions this weekend. However, I still was not fast enough which means that we have to work more on the set-up."

Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Director Norbert Haug: "That was a really thrilling qualifying right to the end. The cars entered by H.W.A. were among the top five within 0.072sec. The 13th fastest driver is less than a second behind pole position, which means that the competition in the DTM field gets closer and closer. So the concept works. This is also demonstrated by the 0.010sec between the fastest Mercedes of Marcel Fdssler and the first Audi of Laurent Aiello. Opel, too, has improved, Manuel Reuter is less than a second behind pole position."

 

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