With his Abt-Audi TT-R, reigning champion Laurent Aiello claimed his first win of the season in front of a record crowd of 85,000 spectators today [Sunday] and climbed up to fourth place in the championship.

After 41 laps at the 3.629 kilometres long sprint circuit of the N?rburgring, he demoted Christijan Albers, the winner of three races this season, to second place. Third place in the seventh round of the season went to points leader Bernd Schneider.

Aiello's fellow Abt-Audi-driver Mattias Ekstr?m, who claimed pole-position in the spectacular night qualifying on Saturday, came home in fourth place. Timo Scheider was best-placed driver of an Opel Astra V8 Coup? in seventh place. His fellow Opel-driver Peter Dumbreck had bad luck at the N?rburgring and didn't score any points for the first time this season.

Soaked with champagne and overjoyed reigning champion Aiello commented: "Winning again after seven months is incredibly good. I took the lead on the first corner right away. The race itself was difficult for me, even though it might have looked easy from the outside. I really had to take care to save my tyres and push at the same time when the drivers from Mercedes were getting too close to me. I want to thank my team for supporting me with a great pit stop. This victory is great for the championship, for my team and for me. And it promises excitement for the remaining three races."

Team principal Hans-J?rgen Abt was also relieved. He added: "When you want to win in the DTM, you can't afford to make any mistakes. Our entire team has been working hard for this success and has been doing a perfect job today. That was the key to this success. I am just proud of our guys."

Although his second place made him move up to one point from points leader Bernd Schneider, Christijan Albers was self-critical: "This second place is just the result of the hard work by my team. I have made many mistakes and I still have to learn a lot." Team-mate Schneider replied: "But please, not too much, it was enough for me today!"

The two of them had been battling for many laps. Initially, Schneider went past Albers, but the latter could counter later on. "The battle with Bernd was great fun," Albers said. Schneider added: "Laurent Aiello's win is well deserved, I think that he still had some reserves. We have to keep an eye on the Audis from now on. When they are in front with three cars, the championship situation can still change."

Motorsport director Norbert Haug was impressed. He noted: "It was a great weekend. The ratings for the night qualifying on ARD is a huge success, the atmosphere on the grand stands was great and in the paddock, we were almost run over by the fans. I have also experienced the golden years of the old DTM, but from my point of view, this event has been a new milestone."

Opel's motorsport director Volker Strycek was positive, too: "It was a mega event, both because of the spectators and because of the TV-shots from night qualifying. One could wish that this will be extended even more. We at Opel are feeling convinced that our home is in the DTM and that we have helped creating this DTM."

Having started from 14th place, Opel-youngster Timo Scheider made it up to seventh with his Astra V8 Coup?. "To do so, I had to fight hard. From that point of view, I am already satisfied with my points scoring position." Opel-team-mate Peter Dumbreck was also on his way towards a finish in the points before being dropped back by a penalty for exceeding the speed limit in the pit lane.

The next round of the championship is at the A1-Ring in Austria on September 7.



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