Laurent Aiello took the 2002 DTM title with a sixth place finish for Abt-Audi at Zandvoort. Defending champion Bernd Schneider had to win the race at the fast track in the North Sea dunes to take the title battle to next week's Hockenheim season finale, but only finished second in his Mercedes-Benz CLK-DTM. Race winner was Aiello's team-mate Mattias Ekstr?m, his first win in the series.

Aiello had been banished to the back of the grid after fuel irregularities on his Abt-Audi TT-R on Saturday evening, but charged through to sixth in the race - good enough to guarantee him the DTM crown.

"During the first races of the season, we created a certain gap between ourselves and Mercedes," explained Aiello. "We benefited from that after the halfway-point, as Bernd Schneider became stronger and stronger. I dedicate this championship to my grandfather, who passed away last spring. He bought me my first racing go-kart and without him, I couldn't have celebrated this great victory today."

"Probably, there still was a fuel in the tank that we used during testing at the Lausitzring last week, and as a result, the fuel was not identical with the one that was available at Zandvoort," explained Abt Sportsline's team principal Hans-J?rgen Abt as to why Aiello had suffered his penalty.

Zandvoort-winner Mattias Ekstr?m was overjoyed: "This was the greatest race of my life. One has to be very careful, not to lose concentration, when you are cruising there in front, all on your own."

Bernd Schneider was magnanimous in defeat: "Congratulations to Laurent, he is a worthy champion. In combination with the Abt-team, he has just been the best of the season. But it is my goal to get the championship title back next year.

"Today, I was not fast enough to win. And this was my only chance to keep my title chances alive. Little Swede Ekstr?m was just better than me. Thanks to my team-mate Marcel F?ssler, as he was also quicker than me and gave me second place. And thanks to the team, that brought me two more places further up courtesy of a sensational pit stop."

Opel racer Manuel Reuter also congratulated Aiello and promised: "Next year, we will certainly not make things as easy for him as this year. Had I not ruined the start, losing two places, I could have achieved a podium finish by my own means. Of course, that's annoying. I am satisfied, because with the Astra Coup?s, we did the same lap times as the others. From that point of view, I am looking forward to an exciting final in Hockenheim."