Schneider Grabs Surprise Pole

Four-time DTM Champion Bernd Schneider made a sudden return to form at Zandvoort on Saturday afternoon by scooping pole position for the eighth round of the DTM

Schneider Grabs Surprise Pole

After a poor season by his standards, Mercedes star Schneider almost didn't make the top 10 Super Pole run-off at all, having struggled with a flat-spotted tyre and an interrupted second run thanks to a red flag. He grabbed fifth on his very last lap in the pre-qualifying session, which was headed by the weekend's pacesetter Tom Kristensen of Audi.

But Schneider produced a stellar lap when it mattered most in Super Pole, heading the field by almost a quarter of a second. "I'm really happy, I didn't expect this at all," he said. "My Super Pole lap was just perfect. I surprised even myself!"

To continue the surprises, DTM underdog Opel took the next two places, with Marcel Fassler and Heinz-Harald Frentzen separated by just 0.055s, Title protagonists Gary Paffett and Mattias Ekstrom, who are currently one point apart from each other in Ekstrom's favour, will start fourth and fifth respectively.

Britons Jamie Green (Mercedes) and Allan McNish (Audi) will line up sixth and seventh, with the Audis of Christian Abt, Frank Stippler and Kristensen rounding out the top 10. Kristensen set the fastest first sector in Super Pole, but then made a litany of mistakes that cost him 1.5s to Schneider's fastest time.

Double F1 World Champion Mika Hakkinen will start 11th after just missing out on a place in the Super Pole, while Mercedes teammate Jean Alesi crashed out in spectacular style when his splitter was torn off his C-Class and acted as a ramp, almost flipping the car end over end.

To make matters worse, Frenchman Alesi then criticised the level of support he was getting from the AMG Mercedes team on live TV, which didn't go down well with Mercedes motorsport chief Norbert Haug.

Qualifying results: Pos Driver Team Time 1. Tom Kristensen Audi A4 DTM 1:32.968 2. Gary Paffett AMG-Mercedes C-Klasse 1:33.038 + 0.070 3. Marcel Fassler Opel Vectra GTS V8 1:33.127 + 0.159 4. H.H. Frentzen Opel Vectra GTS V8 1:33.194 + 0.226 5. Bernd Schneider AMG-Mercedes C-Klasse 1:33.220 + 0.252 6. Jamie Green AMG-Mercedes C-Klasse 1:33.252 + 0.284 7. Mattias Ekstrom Audi A4 DTM 1:33.300 + 0.332 8. Christian Abt Audi A4 DTM 1:33.456 + 0.488 9. Allan McNish Audi A4 DTM 1:33.483 + 0.515 10. Frank Stippler Audi A4 DTM 1:33.492 + 0.524 11. Mika Hakkinen AMG-Mercedes C-Klasse 1:33.595 + 0.627 12. Manuel Reuter Opel Vectra GTS V8 1:33.700 + 0.732 13. Laurent Aiello Opel Vectra GTS V8 1:33.724 + 0.756 14. Bruno Spengler AMG-Mercedes C-Klasse 1:33.788 + 0.820 15. Martin Tomczyk Audi A4 DTM 1:33.874 + 0.906 16. Rinaldo Capello Audi A4 DTM 1:34.145 + 1.177 17. A. Margaritis AMG-Mercedes C-Klasse 1:34.170 + 1.202 18. Pierre Kaffer Audi A4 DTM 1:34.180 + 1.212 19. Jean Alesi AMG-Mercedes C-Klasse 1:34.305 + 1.337 20. Stefan Mucke AMG-Mercedes C-Klasse 1:34.568 + 1.600 Super Pole results: Pos Driver Team Time 1. Bernd Schneider AMG-Mercedes C-Klasse 1:32.730 2. Marcel Fassler Opel Vectra GTS V8 1:32.954 + 0.224 3. H.H. Frentzen Opel Vectra GTS V8 1:33.009 + 0.279 4. Gary Paffett AMG-Mercedes C-Klasse 1:33.205 + 0.475 5. Mattias Ekstrom Audi A4 DTM 1:33.277 + 0.547 6. Jamie Green AMG-Mercedes C-Klasse 1:33.295 + 0.565 7. Allan McNish Audi A4 DTM 1:33.404 + 0.674 8. Christian Abt Audi A4 DTM 1:33.636 + 0.906 9. Frank Stippler Audi A4 DTM 1:34.132 + 1.402 10. Tom Kristensen Audi A4 DTM 1:34.244 + 1.514 Grid Positions: Pos Driver Team 1. Bernd Schneider AMG-Mercedes C-Klasse 2. Marcel Fassler Opel Vectra GTS V8 3. H.H. Frentzen Opel Vectra GTS V8 4. Gary Paffett AMG-Mercedes C-Klasse 5. Mattias Ekstrom Audi A4 DTM 6. Jamie Green AMG-Mercedes C-Klasse 7. Allan McNish Audi A4 DTM 8. Christian Abt Audi A4 DTM 9. Frank Stippler Audi A4 DTM 10. Tom Kristensen Audi A4 DTM 11. Mika Hakkinen AMG-Mercedes C-Klasse 12. Manuel Reuter Opel Vectra GTS V8 13. Laurent Aiello Opel Vectra GTS V8 14. Bruno Spengler AMG-Mercedes C-Klasse 15. Martin Tomczyk Audi A4 DTM 16. Rinaldo Capello Audi A4 DTM 17. A. Margaritis AMG-Mercedes C-Klasse 18. Pierre Kaffer Audi A4 DTM 19. Jean Alesi AMG-Mercedes C-Klasse 20. Stefan Mucke AMG-Mercedes C-Klasse 
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