Bernd Schneider drove his D2 AMG Mercedes to victory in the eighth round of the 2001 DTM at Austria's A1-Ring and defended his championship title.

After his third win of the season, Schneider has won his third championship after 1995 and 2000 with two races still to go. He is the first driver in DTM history to successfully defend his title.

In the 24-lap race, Laurent Aiello (Abt-Audi TT-R) finished second ahead of Uwe Alzen (Warsteiner AMG Mercedes) und Manuel Reuter (Opel Astra V8 Coup?). Schneider's win in Austria was his 34th victory in DTM and ITC which he all scored with Mercedes-Benz. Schneider who also won the 1995 International Touring Car Series ITC posted the fastest lap of the race with a time of 1m 28.639s, the 45th of his career and the fastest lap of the whole weekend.

Starting from his 17th DTM pole position, Schneider won the eight-lap qualifying race with a clean sweep ahead of his team mate Peter Dumbreck and Uwe Alzen. Original-Teile AMG Mercedes driver Thomas J?ger retired after a collision with Timo Scheider (Opel Astra V8 Coup?) which was caused by Mattias Ekstr?m (Abt-Audi TT-R). J?ger was not able to participate in the second race.

After the start of the main event, Bernd Schneider led the field through the first corner while Dumbreck behind him was pushed into a spin. The collision involved several cars including Christijan Albers (Original-Teile AMG Mercedes), David Saelens (Service 24h AMG Mercedes) and Bernd Mayl?nder (Eschmann-Stahl AMG Mercedes) who were all forced to retire.

The safety car was deployed for four laps to enable the marshals to clean the track. After the restart on lap 5 Schneider led ahead of Aiello and Marcel F?ssler (Warsteiner AMG Mercedes). On lap 16, Schneider came into the pits for his compulsory tyre change which his team managed in 8.3sec.

Schneider rejoined the race in second position behind Opel driver Manuel Reuter who maintained the lead until his pit stop on lap 22 while Schneider drove to victory 8.371sec ahead of Aiello.

Schneider said: "It's an overwhelming feeling to defend my title this way and to start with #1 next year again. My car ran perfectly the whole weekend and it was all fun from the first minute to the chequered flag. I'm looking forward to the last two races when I will be able to drive without pressure. In the final at Hockenheim, I want to present the fans a great show."

In the first corner, Uwe Alzen was hit by Alain Menu (Opel Astra V8 Coup?) and therefore touched Dumbreck's car. After the safety car period, Alzen had an exciting battle with Patrick Huisman (Eschmann-Stahl AMG Mercedes) who was able to pass Alzen. After both drivers had pitted on lap 9, Alzen fought back and passed Huisman.

"Congratulations to Bernd on his title win," Uwe Alzen said. "After the incident with Alain Menu at the beginning, I unfortunately lost several positions. My front spoiler splitter was damaged causing severe understeer in right-hand corners. The highlights of my race were the fights with Patrick and Marcel after my pit stop."

Marcel F?ssler who was third in the opening stages of the race, pitted on lap 13 and rejoined the race just ahead of Alzen but lost this position to his team mate on the same lap. F?ssler finally finished sixth.

Two weeks prior to his first DTM home race at Zandvoort, Dutchman Patrick Huisman came home fifth. Darren Turner in the Service 24h AMG Mercedes ended up tenth after two stop-and-go penalties. First, at the dummy grid, his team put the car on its wheels too late, and then Turner was fined for pit-lane speeding.

Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Director Norbert Haug commented: "The way, Bernd and his team have won the championship today was really impressive. Bernd was a class of his own and performed like a true champion. With his speed he was the benchmark for the whole field. Congratulations on that and on his championship title by our entire team."



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