Free practice of the DTM at the Circuit de Catalunya on Saturday morning brought a slight surprise: Frank Stippler set the fastest time with his Audi A4 DTM. With a lap time of 1.14.266 minutes, the driver from Bad Münstereifel outpaced his fellow Audi-driver Mattias Ekström by 0.095 seconds. Third-placed Heinz-Harald Frentzen, 0.222 seconds down, completed the Audi trio at the front. Two times’ race winner Bruno Spengler was the fastest driver with an AMG-Mercedes C-Class in fourth place. His team-mate, points leader Bernd Schneider, ended up fifth.
“In free practice, things were already going quite well and I am happy that we had this opportunity to shine“, said Frank Stippler. “My team has done a tremendous job as my Audi was really good on the road. Now, our goal is to keep this performance in qualifying.” After a rather meagre season so far, seven races and no points to date, Stippler is hoping for his first success. “It has still to be seen whether we still are this good in qualifying later on. But I think that generally, our chances are better in the rain.”
Free practice of the DTM took place in difficult conditions on Saturday morning. Heavy rain showers in Catalonia made the job for the 20 DTM drivers a lottery. These uncertain conditions caused other surprises than just Stippler’s fastest time. For instance, the drivers with 2004-spec cars were strong in the mid-field. Fastest of them was Nicolas Kiesa with the Audi A4 DTM in twelfth place. Behind him, local hero Mathias Lauda was 13th with his AMG-Mercedes C-Class, Vanina Ickx was a creditable 16th with the second Futurecom TME-Audi.