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Final DTM weekend kicks off in mixed conditions

During the first test of the 2006 season’s final DTM weekend, held at the Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg, the 20 Audi and Mercedes-Benz drivers had to cope with mixed track conditions. Prior to the 85-minute session, the circuit had been hit by a rain shower and the track dried only partially, over the course of the session. AMG-Mercedes C-Class driver Mika Häkkinen turned out to be the one who succeeded in coping best with these conditions. On his fastest lap, the two-time Formula 1 World Champion lapped the 4.574-kilometre circuit in 1:48.955 minutes, with Bernd Schneider finishing second, 0.035 seconds behind the Finn. Third position on the time sheets was secured by the quickest Audi driver, Christian Abt. Yet, with his 2005-spec Audi A4 DTM, the German was more than six tenths of a second slower than Häkkinen.

Fourth in test one: Tom Kristensen
Tom Kristensen finished fourth, behind Abt. The Dane, who is going to battle it with Bruno Spengler for the runner-up position in the championship, completed a total of 22 laps and set a personal fastest lap time of 1:49.715 minutes, while Spengler finished eleventh, 1.529 seconds behind his Mercedes-Benz brand-mate Häkkinen. In the drivers’ championship, Spengler (53 points) holds second position, three points ahead of Kristensen (50).

Jamie Green, Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Mattias Ekström came fifth, sixth and seventh respectively, with two other 2005-spec car drivers also making it to the top ten: Timo Scheider finished eighth and Alexandros Margaritis secured tenth position, while Martin Tomczyk set the ninth fastest time. Thed Björk, who made a great DTM debut at Le Mans, succeeded in impressing again: as the fastest of the 2004-spec Audi drivers, he finished twelfth.

Following an off-track moment of Audi’s Frank Stippler, the session had to be red-flagged for eight minutes. When the German went off, the front of his car was massively damaged, thus preventing him from continuing his practice work. But when the car was salvaged and the track cleaned, the session could be continued.

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