DTM - Schneider's fourth title

The outcome was expected, but how we got there wasn't. Bernd Schneider scored his fourth DTM title success in 2003, eclipsing Klaus Ludwig to technically become the most successful German touring car racing of all time

DTM - Schneider's fourth title

But even Schneider, Mercedes' acknowledged king of the discipline, expected that his new team-mate for 2003, Christijan Albers, would push him so hard for the crown. The young Dutchman only joined the AMG ranks just a handful of days ahead of the season-opener, when Uwe Alzen walked out in a huff over the structure of the teams.

Albers took his chance with both hands, and stepped up to the big time with apparent ease. He won his first-ever DTM race in his second outing with Merc's top team at Adria in Italy, and then followed it up with another at the Nurburgring a few weeks later.

Schneider, with the season-opener already under his belt, was suddenly under pressure - and another Albers victory at the showpiece Norisring race set up a classic end to the season. Albers won again at Zandvoort, making it four wins to Schneider's two, Bernd having won previously at Lausitz.

The Hockenheim finale was a gloves off, no team orders affair. Fittingly, it had an unpredictable outcome.

It all looked fairly plain sailing early on. Schneider was bang on the leading pace, while Albers, who was laid low by a heavy cold, initially struggled to stay in the hunt. That changed when Schneider suffered a left-rear tyre failure - fortunately for him just as he entered the Stadium section and not far from the pits.

AMG sent him on his way with little delay, but it meant he had a long stint on his last set of tyres. Albers was right behind, poised to pounce, when he too suffered a left-rear blow-out, this time well away from the safety of pit lane. Schneider could coast home to the title at last.

It was a noble joust between two great racers, and it was fitting that they embraced warmly after the final event.

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