Bernd Schneider drove his D2 AMG Mercedes to an unaccustomed second-place finish in the second round of the 2001 DTM at the Nurburgring last weekend, having had to play second fiddle to one of the improving Audi TT-Rs.

After 22 laps, fraught with many hard-fought battles, the reigning DTM champion finished just 1.517sec behind Laurent Aiello, the Frenchman taking the Abt-Audi team's first series victory. All three marques involved in the championship - Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Opel - finished in the top ten, and each took a turn to lead the race.

Light rain before the start of the eight-lap qualifying race caused a first corner incident when Thomas Jager - driving last year's Original-Teile AMG Mercedes from fifth on the grid - braked too late and pushed Schneider, third on the grid, onto the grass. Schneider's engine stalled, but he recovered from last place to finish sixth. Aiello won, with Peter Dumbreck the best Mercedes driver in third ahead of Jager and Pedro Lamy.

Right at the start of the main race, Jager improved from fourth to second behind leader Aiello, with victim Schneider following in fourth behind Martin Tomczyk's Audi. When Aiello pitted for his compulsory tyre change on lap eight, Jager took the lead for two laps, but had to give up his slender advantage when pitting one lap after Schneider, on lap ten. By lap 18, when all drivers had made their stops, Aiello held a 0.4secs lead over Schneider, with Jager third. It was in this order that they crossed the finish line four laps later.

''In the qualifying race, I was pushed into a spin and on to the grass,'' Schneider confirmed, ''My engine stalled, so I had to charge through the field from last place. The main race was fun, but it was tough. Thanks to my team's good pit-stop performance, I rejoined the race right behind Aiello. I tried as hard as I could, but he didn't make any mistake.''

Jager apologised for the error which caused Mercedes' top man to lose the chance of another victory, but said that he was happy to have salvaged a podium finish from his altercation with Schneider.

''I caused some chaos in the qualifying race, when I misjudged the situation under braking,'' he admitted, ''I feel sorry for Bernd, but I'm happy to achieve a podium finish in the main event.''

Warsteiner AMG Mercedes driver Marcel Fassler finished fifth after exciting battles with team-mate Uwe Alzen and Tomczyk.

''I like tough fights, but not when I'm in the centre!'' the Swiss said, ''Today I was hit by too many other drivers. Under these circumstances I'm happy with my fifth place.''

Alzen retired from sixth place on the final lap due to a broken suspension at the right front wheel, a legacy he felt of competition in the day's earlier event.

''The problem was probably caused by a collision in the qualifying race,'' Alzen said.

Bernd Maylander improved from eleventh on the grid to fifth by lap twelve, when he came into the pits. When he went to accelerate away from his stop, however, the F1 pace car driver took the airgun from his left front wheelman with him.

''Everything was fine with my stop, and when I saw the sign I started,'' Maylander said, ''Then I felt something like a hit and the car stopped. I'm glad that my mechanics remained unhurt.''

Service 24 h AMG Mercedes drivers Pedro Lamy and Darren Turner finished sixth and 16th respectively, but the Portuguese driver is likely to have driven his last DTM race after having a request to leave the team granted after the event.

''Today we saw great and exciting sport,'' commented Mercedes motorsport director Norbert Haug, ''In the qualifying race, some of our drivers misjudged some situations, however in the main event the battles for the lead were tough but fair. All three brands led the race too. In their fastest laps, Aiello and Schneider were separated by a mere 20-thousandths of a second, and Michael Bartels's Opel was just two-tenths behind - which means that Opel has improved. Congratulations to the Abt Audi team on their first DTM victory. They have performed excellently throughout the weekend.''

Complete Feature Race results from Round Two of the 2001 DTM Championship at the Nurburgring, Germany:

1. Laurent AielloFRATeam Abt SportslineAudi TT-R22 laps-36mins 52.833secs
2. Bernd SchneiderGERTeam D2 AMG MercedesMercedes CLK+ 01.517secs
3. Tomas JagerGERPersson MercedesMercedes CLK+ 04.741secs
4. Martin TomczykGERTeam Abt SportslineAudi TT-R+ 05.248secs
5. Marcel FasslerSWIWarsteiner AMG Mercedes Mercedes CLK+ 05.630secs
6. Pedro LamyPORRosberg MercedesMercedes CLK+ 15.265secs
7. Patrick HuismanHOLEschmann AMG Mercedes Mercedes CLK+ 18.354secs
8. Peter DumbreckGBRTeam D2 AMG MercedesMercedes CLK+ 18.712secs
9. Mattias EkstromSWETeam Abt SportslineAudi TT-R+ 20.461secs
10. Timo ScheiderGEROpel Team HolzerOpel Astra V8+ 22.120secs
11. Yves OlivierBELOpel Team PhoenixOpel Astra V8+ 22.794secs
12. Christijan AlbersHOLPersson MercedesMercedes CLK+ 40.035secs
13. Jo WinkelhockGEROpel Team HolzerOpel Astra V8+ 40.827secs
14. Michael BartelsGEROpel Team HolzerOpel Astra V8+ 44.319secs
15. Hubert HauptGEROpel EuroteamOpel Astra V8+ 54.700secs
16. Darren TurnerGBRRosberg MercedesMercedes CLK+ 55.975secs
17. Alain MenuSWIOpel EuroteamOpel Astra V8+ 1 min 03.089secs
18. Peter MamarowGERMamarow Racing TeamOpel Astra V8+ 1 min 40.455secs
19. Uwe AlzenGERWarsteiner AMG Mercedes Mercedes CLK+ 1 lapsecs
20. Bernd MaylanderGEREschmann AMG Mercedes Mercedes CLK+ 1 lap

Did Not Start Feature Race.

DNS. Christian AbtGERTeam Abt SportslineAudi TT-Raccident
DNS. Manuel ReuterGEROpel Team PhoenixOpel Astra V8accident

Top 10 Sprint Race results for Round Two of the 2001 DTM Championship at the Nurburgring, Germany:

1. Laurent AielloFRATeam Abt SportslineAudi TT-R7 laps - 12mins 47.545secs
2. Martin TomczykGERTeam Abt SportslineAudi TT-R+ 03.351secs
3. Peter DumbreckGBRTeam D2 AMG MercedesMercedes CLK+ 10.638secs
4. Tomas JagerGERPersson MercedesMercedes CLK+ 10.873secs
5. Pedro LamyPORRosberg MercedesMercedes CLK+ 11.079secs
6. Bernd SchneiderGERTeam D2 AMG MercedesMercedes CLK+ 11.593secs
7. Uwe AlzenGERWarsteiner AMG Mercedes Mercedes CLK+ 12.059secs
8. Marcel FasslerSWIWarsteiner AMG Mercedes Mercedes CLK+ 12.639secs
9. Darren TurnerGBRRosberg MercedesMercedes CLK+ 13.251secs
10. Mattias EkstromSWETeam Abt SportslineAudi TT-R+ 13.474secs