The three-pointed star was shining in the DTM season opener at the Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg. In an action-packed race, Bernd Schneider scored a dominant win with his Vodafone AMG-Mercedes C-Klasse, scoring the 40th victory of his DTM-career. “In every year during which I won the season opener here, I also won the title. It can go on like this”, Schneider said in a delighted mood after his 13th DTM victory at Hockenheim. Danish Audi-driver, Tom Kristensen, crossed the finish line in second place, 4.286 seconds down. In his first race for Audi, Heinz-Harald Frentzen also scored a podium finish with his third place.
Happy with his second place: Tom Kristensen
Pole-sitter Jamie Green had bad luck. After a spin during the formation lap, the Brit also lost the start duel and already retired on the second lap due to electronical problems. Four times’ DTM champion Bernd Schneider used his chance at the start, slotted into first place and went on to a never-threatened victory. Schneider’s victory was the 129th race win for Mercedes-Benz in the DTM. Throughout the 37 lap race, there were great position fights between the two former F1 drivers Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Mika Häkkinen. After 169.238 kilometres, Audi’s new signing was only 0.788 seconds ahead of the Finn.
Fastest 2005 spec car: Easy Rent Mercedes C-Class, Alexandros Magraritis
With last year’s Easy Rent Mercedes C-Class, Alexandros Magraritis made it up into fifth place. Jean Alesi, the winner of last year’s season opener, came home in sixth place behind his fellow-Mercedes-Benz-driver. The two Audi-drivers Martin Tomczyk and Timo Scheider followed suit. British lady racer, Susie Stoddart (AutoScout24 AMG Mercedes) was delighted with tenth place at her DTM debut behind Bruno Spengler. Vanina Ickx finished in 15th place with her Originalteile Zubehör Audi A4. The 2004 DTM champion, Mattias Ekström, retired from fourth place in lap 26 with his Red Bull Audi A4 due to suspension damage.
In the overall standings, Bernd Schneider is leading with ten points from Tom Kristensen (8) and Heinz-Harald Frentzen (6). The second DTM race of the year will be taking place at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz on April 30.
Bernd Schneider (winner, Vodafone AMG-Mercedes): “I really enjoyed this afternoon. I hope to have a few more like these in the course of this season. When 15 cars have chances of winning, you know that there is a tough race waiting for you. I had a good start and thus was able to make the best use of my strategy. Victory here is a good omen, it can go on like this.”
Tom Kristensen (2nd place, Audi Sport Team Abt): “Thanks to the guys from the Allgäu. The pit stops were great, the strategy was right. Twelve laps before the finish, I ran very hard over the kerbs in the North-corner. After that, my steering was bent. From then on, I only concentrated on defending second place. Bernd’s victory is well-deserved, but had it not been for my problem, I could have pushed a little bit more.”
Heinz-Harald Frentzen (3rd place, Audi Sport Team Abt): “This is a great debut for me at Audi. At the start, I already made up four places, but then, I got problems with the tyres, so that I had to come in early for my pit stop. That ruined my original strategy. The fight with Mika was fun and it was just enough for me to keep him behind me.“
Mercedes-Benz motor sport director Norbert Haug: “It was a great start with an exciting and good race. Eventually, somebody has won who really deserved it. Bernd Schneider is simply the king of Hockenheim. The cars were at an equal level and the performance of the 2005-spec cars is remarkable. Apart from minor problems for Jamie Green, who retired due to electronic problems, and a puncture for Bruno Spengler, the rest went perfectly. Tenth place for Susie Stoddart on her DTM debut is great.”
Audi motor sport director Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich: “With two cars on the podium that have started from eighth and ninth place, one can be satisfied. That is a good result. I am also happy with the team performance. We have two cars from last year in the points. All in all, it was a good and exciting race. Until the end, we saw battles and the result remained undecided for a long time.