Friday test: Aiello sets pace

Reigning DTM champion Laurent Aiello set the pace in the final official test session at Hockenheim before the series opener at the same venue this weekend

Friday test: Aiello sets pace

The Abt Sportsline Audi star, who was third fastest behind the factory Mercedes of Marcel Fassler and Bernd Schneider in the first session, set a best time of 1m36.792s and was just over a tenth quicker than Mercedes star and former Formula 1 driver Jean Alesi.

"Today, my car was very good, but it is difficult to draw any conclusions", said Aiello. "This afternoon, it was very warm, but the weather is supposed to change tomorrow and then, of course, conditions are much different too."

Alesi, the fastest Mercedes man, was pleased to have seemingly closed the performance gap to last year's all-conquering Audi: "Of course I am really happy with today's result. It is nice when you are almost level with the champion during the first real comparison of the season. But we don't know yet how we will cope with the new qualification format tomorrow. This involves some uncertainty and it surely will be exciting."

Mattias Ekström made it two Audis in the top three ahead of fourth-placed Manuel Reuter in the first of the Opel Astras. Mercedes great title-hope was fifth ahead of team-mate Marcel Fassler who had set the pace in the first session. The top ten cars were covered by less than a second.

Laurent Aiello Audi 1m36.792s 19
Jean Alesi Mercedes 1m36.834s 24
Mattias Ekström Audi 1m37.117s 25
Manuel Reuter Opel 1m7.395s 19
Bernd Schneider Mercedes 1m7.436s 19
Marcel Fässler Mercedes 1m7.438s 23
Peter Dumbreck Opel 1m7.504s 21
Christijan Albers Mercedes 1m7.573s 24
Karl Wendlinger Audi 1m7.596s 30
Alain Menu Opel 1m37.787s 26

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