Schneider on brink of title at 'Ring

Mercedes tin-top ace Bernd Schneider heads into this weekend's penultimate DTM meeting knowing that a pair of Nurburgring podiums will guarantee him the title

Schneider on brink of title at 'Ring

Six-time race-winner Schneider is currently on 181 points, with his closest challengers Klaus Ludwig and Manuel Reuter way back on 122. With 20 points available for a win, even if either Reuter or Ludwig takes both victories on Sunday, Schneider only has to take a pair of third places to wrap things up before the Hockenheim finale at the end of the month.

Schneider's current form and the fact that he won both (soaking wet) races when the DTM last raced on the full Grand Prix circuit would seem to point to the 1995 DTM and ITC champion wrapping things up in the Eifel mountains. But Reuter, who leads Opel's attack, has other ideas. He kept his title hopes alive with a second and a third at Oschersleben last time out and is looking to invoke divine intervention.

"I am hoping for a nice, sunny October weekend," he said. "And since I believe there's a god of racing, I'm counting on the right amount of luck."

Beyond Schneider, Reuter and the still quick Mercedes veteran Ludwig, other candidates for a win at the Nurburgring include Opel's Jo Winkelhock and Uwe Alzen and Mercedes juniors Marcel Fassler and Peter Dumbreck.

Alzen took his first ever DTM victory at Oschersleben and is on a roll, while Winkelhock wants to make amends after admitting liability for the opening lap shunt that took out half of the field at the east German circuit. Fassler and Dumbreck have both shown race-winning pace and form, and only luck has so far prevented them from finding the final step of the podium.

But for a real outside bet, the Abt-run quartet of Audi TT-Rs, and in particular Laurent Aiello, could be the ones to watch. Aiello shocked the DTM establishment by setting second quickest time in the Oschersleben free practice sessions and although car problems prevented him from carrying that form into qualifying, the Frenchman did bag aa fifth place finish in the accident-depleted first race. Should the Eifel weather be its usual fickle self, another top five is certainly within the realms of possibility.

Britons Darren Turner (Mercedes) and James Thompson (Audi) will also be looking at breaking their runs of bad luck and posting some confidence-building results before the end of the season.



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