Opel Sets Pace at Lausitz

Opel, traditionally the whipping boys of the DTM, set the pace in the final practice sessions ahead of qualifying for the ninth round of the pan-European touring car series at EuroSpeedway Lausitz, with its 2002 series champion Laurent Aiello setting his top time just before the heavens opened and soaked the track once again

Opel Sets Pace at Lausitz

The weather in eastern Germany has affected the entire race weekend so far, with track conditions ranging between damp and completely soaking. Aiello picked a window in the showers to lap the combined road course and oval in 1:17.343 in his Vectra GTS, three-tenths clear of the year-old Mercedes C-Class of Canada's Bruno Spengler.

Series leader Gary Paffett was third fastest in his works Mercedes, ahead of ex-F1 star Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Opel), Le Mans legend Tom Kristensen (Audi) and double F1 world champion Mika Hakkinen (Mercedes). Paffett's arch-rival, Mattias Ekstrom of Audi, was only ninth quickest, but looked more impressive in the rain than he did when it was less wet.

He was one of many to have big moments, but none were as large as the session-stopping accident that befell Pierre Kaffer's Audi on the approach to Turn 1. The German youngster lost control of his A4 under braking and fishtailed before turning sharp right into the concrete wall and then spinning along the escape road. He was unhurt, but his car was heavily damaged.

Jean Alesi, who set the pace in both of yesterday's test sessions for Mercedes, was only 19th fastest on Saturday morning, and suffered a couple of grassy moments.

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