Saturday practice: Ekstrom charges

Mattias Ekstrom demonstrated his intent to challenge for a second DTM victory at Zandvoort by setting the fastest time in Saturday Morning's practice session, leaving his rivals trailing with a mighty flying lap

Saturday practice: Ekstrom charges

The Swede (Abt Audi) shot to the top of the timesheets midway through the session with a lap of 1m35.382, which was nearly half a second faster than anyone else could manage. Mercedes star Marcel Fassler came closest, with a 1m35.874s, whilst Manuel Reuter set the third best time in his Opel to ensure all three marques were represented in the top three.

After a disappointing showing in yesterday's practice session, Mercedes was quick to demonstrate that it would be a force around the winding Dutch circuit, with first Bernd Schneider and then Fassler storming to the head of the timesheets before Ekstrom's stunner. Schneider dropped to fourth at the end of the session, ahead of reigning champion Laurent Aiello (Audi). Karl Wendlinger and Martin Tomczyk were sixth and seventh respectively in their Audis.

Scot Peter Dumbreck wound up eighth fastest after a difficult session. The Opel star, who was fastest in practice yesterday, was late to take to the track and then lost further time when he spun into the gravel trap at turn one. He was dragged clear by the marshals and was able to continue, but ended nearly a second shy of the front-runners.

Christijan Albers (Mercedes) was ninth quickest, not where he needed to be to challenge Schneider for the championship lead. Jean Alesi (Mercedes) was also disappointing in his AMG machine, setting the 15th fastest time. Thomas Jager was 16th fastest, and quickest of the 2002 Mercedes runners, just ahead of Briton Gary Paffett (Mercedes).

Mattias Ekstrom (S) Abt-Audi TT-R, 1m35.382s
Marcel Fassler (SUI) AMG Mercedes-Benz CLK 1m35.874s
Manuel Reuter (D) Holzer Opel Astra V8 Coupé, 1m36.825s
Bernd Schneider (D) AMG Mercedes-Benz CLK 1m35.913s
Laurent Aiello (F) Abt-Audi TT-R, 1m35.992s
Karl Wendlinger (A) Abt-Audi TT-R, 1m36.080s
Martin Tomczyk (D) S line Audi Junior Team Abt Audi TT-R 1m36.235s
Peter Dumbreck (GB) Phoenix Opel Astra V8 Coupé, 1m36.286s
Christijan Albers (NL) AMG Mercedes-Benz CLK, 1m36.371s
Timo Scheider (D) Phoenix Opel Astra V8 Coupe 1m36.385s

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Friday practice: Dumbreck on top
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