Saturday practice: Aiello top; Mercs play cool

The Abt Audi squad dominated the third and final free practice session for round two of the DTM at the Nurburgring. Laurent Aiello headed the timesheets, with rookie Mattias Ekstrom making it a one-two for the privateer TT-Rs

Saturday practice: Aiello top; Mercs play cool

The feat would have been met with incredulity last season, but thanks to the aerodynamic changes and longer wheelbase granted to the stubby coupes over the winter, current form puts them as Mercedes' only real challenger at the moment.

Christian Abt in sixth and Martin Tomczyk in 11th made it an excellent morning's work for the squad, but one tempered by the realisation that Merc's big guns were happy to do little else but check that the wheels turned and the engines fired in readiness for the afternoon's single 45-minute qualifying session.

With the likes of Bernd Schneider, Uwe Alzen, Marcel Fassler and Peter Dumbreck keeping their powder dry, that allowed Tomas Jager's 2000-spec Persson car to finish best of the CLKs, in third place. He was followed by Patrick Huisman's 2001-spec car and the 2000-spec Rosberg machine of Darren Turner.

Best of the Opels was Manuel Reuter's phoenix-run Astra, but that was down in eighth place as the make continues to struggle to find form in the cold temperatures at the 'Ring. The thermometer struggled to around three degrees for the hour-long session, but it looks like Opel will need a sharp rise in temperature if it is to be a factor this weekend.

Reigning BTCC champion Alain Menu was 15th quickest for Opel Euroteam.

The single qualifying session starts at 12:00 BST (13:00 local time), with drivers allowed a maximum of 12 laps, including in- and out-laps, to set a time.




Laurent Aiello, 2001 Audi TT-R, 1m37.097s
Mattias Ekstrom, 2001 Audi TT-R, 1m37.475s
Tomas Jager, 2000 Persson Mercedes CLK, 1m37.719s
Patrick Huisman, 2001 Manthey Mercedes CLK, 1m37.744s
Darren Turner, 2000 Rosberg Mercedes CLK, 1m37.943s
Christian Abt, 2001 Audi TT-R, 1m38.030s
Christijan Albers, 2000 Persson Mercedes CLK, 1m38.144s
Manuel Reuter, 2001 Phoenix Opel Astra V8, 1m38.218s
Jo Winkelhock, 2001 Holzer Opel Astra V8, 1m38.434s
Timo Scheider, 2001 Holzer Opel Astra V8, 1m38.448s

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Friday practice: Audis threaten Merc dominance
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