Hockenheim: Alesi fights to victory

Jean Alesi was a popular winner in the DTM at Hockenheim this afternoon, while another crowd favourite, Bernd Schneider claimed a 2003 championship that was still in doubt until the last third of the race

Hockenheim: Alesi fights to victory

"The Schneidermeister" and Christijan Albers found themselves running nose to tail, Schneider in front, shortly after the last set of pitstops. The scrap was only for sixth, but it was a thrilling subplot considering the two were just a point apart in the championship. Albers knew he had to get past to stand a chance, and finally ran out of luck at the Spitzkehre on lap 27. Albers locked up due to a puncture and he almost rammed the back of Schneider as he ploughed off the track. With a flat left rear, the Dutchman's hopes were gone and he could only recover to finish 12th.

Schneider only came in sixth after battling his car and a puncture of his own which, fortunately for him, happened much closer to the pits. Alesi, meanwhile, was kept honest right up to the flag by the Audi of Mattias Ekström. The Swede led the first stint from pole, but was overtaken on straightline speed by the Mercedes on lap eight. Alesi got away for a while, but was the subject of a fine Ekstrom fightback in the late laps.

"It's a fantastic victory," said Alesi. "I had such a great season in a magnificent car. I made some mistakes this year, but now you see that when things come together I can win. Winning in this series is the best thing for a driver if he can't be in Formula 1."

Marcel Fässler was third, also benefiting from a good start and an excellent first pitstop. The A1-Ring winner showed some serious pace throughout the race and had little trouble passing Peter Dumbreck for the last podium spot on lap 23, after the second stops. Dumbreck was fourth, clearly lacking ideal handling from his Opel.

Laurent Aiello was fifth after a strong run from 15th on the grid. Martin Tomczyk went the other way. He started fourth but spun away his early chances at the Spitzkehre on lap five.

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