Clean sweep for Mercedes

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The Independent Online
Motor Racing

Bernd Schneider romped to a winning double with a dominant performance in the fifth and sixth rounds of the International Touring Car series here yesterday, writes Gwyn Dolphin from Donington Park.

The German driver, who started on pole, underlined his supremacy by charging clear at the start of both races - and for good measure he clipped 0.6sec off his own year-old lap record.

Schneider was never headed, and with his 22-year-old team-mate, Dario Franchitti, tucked in behind, Mercedes enjoyed a clean sweep. Franchitti took second place in both races, which lifted him to second in the championship, 20 points adrift of Schneider with six races to go.

"I am a bit disappointed overall," Franchitti said. "In the first race I was happy to finish second but in the second race I felt I was a bit quicker than Bernd through some of the bends. But at the start of the season I said I would help him win the title and settle for second place.

"It is one thing to catch the car in front, as I was doing in the second race, but another to overtake, and I felt it best to hold position. I am still learning in this championship." In the first race Franchitti was 1.7sec adrift, while in the second barely half a second separated the cars after 62.5 fiercely competitive miles.

Keke Rosberg, the 1982 Formula One champion, escaped unhurt after a spin at Starkeys which saw his Opel Calibra slam backwards at 120mph across the grass and into the barriers.