Qualifying: Alzen rolls the right dice

With 15 changes of pole-sitter in a damp, but drying 45-minute qualifying session for Sunday's Nurburgring DTM counter, it wasn't quite a case of last man past the chequered nicks it, but it was still a test of nerve and strategic acumen. In the end, AMG Mercedes driver Uwe Alzen rolled the roulette wheel to perfection, taking his first pole of the season by just eight hundredths of a second

Qualifying: Alzen rolls the right dice

"Our tactics worked well," said Alzen. "We were one of the first out on slicks, but after that we decided to gamble. We played a perfect strategy and the tyres worked 100 percent."

Points leader Laurent Aiello starts his Abt-Audi from a threatening second on the grid, with Bernd Schneider and Marcel Fassler making it three out of four 2002-spec cars in the top four. The session started with barely a drying line, and with rain clouds scudding through the Eifel, most chose to put in a banker on wets. After that, with the rain holding off, it became a game of dare on when to switch to slicks.

"It's always a gamble when you decide to run," said Aiello. "You wait too long and it can drizzle again, or somebody puts oil down. This time it was oil... We were lucky."

The fourth AMG car, Jean Alesi, starts 18th - demonstrating how crucial picking your moment to switch to slicks proved. Alesi had held pole earlier in the session, but in the final two minutes or so, the oil on the track combined with an off for the black CLK meant the Frenchman could only rue a missed opportunity.

Fifth fastest and best of the Opels was Alain Menu, who was disappointed that an Astra V8 Coupe wasn't on the first couple of rows.

"I missed the afternoon session yesterday because of problems," said Menu, "but we were quick this morning. It's just a shame there was that oil on the track right near the end."

The 2001-spec Mercs also figured in the top 10, with Peter Dumbreck qualifying an excellent eighth, just ahead of his Persson team mate Tomas Jager.

Uwe Alzen (D) AMG Mercedes-Benz CLK, 1m26.773s
Laurent Aiello (F) Abt-Audi TT-R, 1m26.853s
Bernd Schneider (D) AMG Mercedes-Benz CLK, 1m27.014s
Marcel Fassler (CH) AMG Mercedes-Benz CLK, 1m27.025s
Alain Menu (CH) Euroteam Opel Astra V8 Coupe, 1m27.314s
Christian Abt (D) Abt-Audi TT-R, 1m27.473s
Manuel Reuter (D) Phoenix Opel Astra V8 Coupé, 1m27.535s
Peter Dumbreck (GB), Persson Mercedes-Benz CLK, 1m27.572s
Tomas Jager (D) Persson Mercedes-Benz CLK, 1m27.914s
Karl Wendlinger (AUT) Abt-Audi TT-R, 1m27.923s


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