The celebrations at the famed Nurburgring for BMW’s “40 Years of M” were completed in emphatic fashion, as BMW Team Schnitzer’s Bruno Spengler led from lights out to chequered flag. The 29-year-old Franco-Canadian had a faultless race for the 49 laps, with no real challenger in site, which was reminiscent of his first win for the brand earlier this season at Lausitzring.
Having secured his 11th DTM career win, posting the fastest lap of the race, and leading Team Schnitzer to its 19th DTM victory, the BMW driver was ecstatic with what can only be a perfect weekend, but knew there was a fight to be had for the final four races: “What a dream day. It slightly reminds me of my maiden victory here. Today, it really was great fun. Edoardo (Mortara) was really quick, but I came out on top. There still are four races to go, in which we will give everything. Then, we will see where we end up,”
Track temperatures during the weekend had topped 50 degrees celsius, especially on race day, where even though the summer heat wave carried on regardless, Audi Team Playboy’s Mortara secured his second podium finish behind the BMW driver, finishing second just over 6 seconds behind in the Audi A5 DTM, managing to keep his cool in the hot conditions: “A fantastic race with a great result for me. I pushed hard, but Bruno was always about one tenth of a second quicker. That was enough for him.”
And BMW had more cause for celebration, as defending champion Martin Tomczyk made his way up to the final step of the podium from fifth on the grid, with Jamie Green earning the highest Mercedes-Benz placed finish in fourth, ahead of Audi’s Mike Rockenfeller. Britain’s Gary Paffett exercised damage limitation as best he could, making his way back from his somewhat frustrating qualifying placing of 11th to finish a credible sixth, but it could have worked better: “Too bad, the car was really fast and we could easily have finished fourth. But after a bad pit stop, I came back on the track behind Rockenfeller and I couldn’t improve anymore,”
Canadian rookie Robert Wickens had his best finish of the season, at one point finding himself in 6th, but finished a well-deserved 7th place in his best weekend so far for Mercedes. The young driver said his weekend was perfect, but also is relishing the coming challenge this weekend, still looking to improve his results this year: “My start was very good and my race pace was also very fast. Now I want to take the momentum from this encouraging weekend to the next race in Zandvoort and post another good result there.”
Portugal’s Filipe Albequerque and Germany’s Timo Scheider finished 8th and 9th for Audi, having made some progress during the race, whilst Brazil’s Augusto Farfus had stayed out for longer on his strategy, even leading the race to a degree, but picked up the last point for BMW.
Swiss Audi driver Rahal Frey was to provide a thrilling battle between herself and former F1 ace Ralf Schumacher for 13th place, as the 2009 F3 race winner was on fresher tyres, but summed up the weekend of one that shows future promise for the rest of the season: “I’m pleased. It was a tough but fair battle with Ralf. That’s the way racing should be; that’s why I love motorsport. Unfortunately, I botched the start a bit. That was my mistake. I also overshot at my first pit stop. There are a few things to improve yet. Now we’ve got to take these dynamics and this momentum in the crew to Zandvoort.”
Adrien Tambay and Miguel Molina had contact early on in the race, with the rookie Frenchman being rather apologetic for his mistake, having to retire not that long after: “I thought he’d see me, but apparently he didn’t and that’s why our cars touched. Something like this shouldn’t happen as it ruined the race for both of us. I had to park my car in the pits with a defect after my drive-through penalty.”
Molina was hopeful of a great race, having picked up three places in the very first lap, but he felt that Tambay had missed his braking point, and this ended the race very early for the Red Bull-backed Spaniard, who finished in 15th. Mattias Ekstrom had a race to clearly forget, as the Swedish driver had no real answer for his main rivals, having a weekend to push to the back of his mind: “It’s a long race when you start from position twelve. I had a bad start. The first lap wasn’t optimal. I overtook a few drivers but then was slowed.”
BMW’s Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt had no better emotion that abosulte delight, in what has been a fantastic result for the Munich manufacturer, on such a nostalgic weekend: “This is an absolute dream result, a dream weekend for BMW. 40 years M on Friday, pole on Saturday and first and third place on Sunday – it doesn’t get any better. Nürburgring, BMW, M and Schnitzer – this combination is always good for a surprise. And this victory tastes even sweeter in the year of our comeback.”
Audi’s Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich was happy with the steps forward that Ingolstadt have made on the A5 DTM, with 4 drivers in the top ten, but was hoping that the weekend could have just been more than a team result: “Edo’ (Mortara) drove a perfect race but more than that wasn’t possible. We had the disadvantage that he didn’t have new tires for the race like Bruno Spengler. That clearly made a difference. But on the whole, you could see that we’ve made a step forward. With that, we now want to prepare for the next race.”
Norbert Haug, Vice-President of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport was pleased that Paffett was still leading the title race for the drivers by 20 points from Spengler, but is optimistic that better results will come along, as the C-Class AMG Coupe showed dramatic signs of improvement between qualifying and the race: “The significant improvement from yesterday to race day speaks for a great team. Now, we are looking forward to the next round at Zandvoort.”
So with Spengler leading the chase, hunting down Paffett, the DTM now moves on to Zandvoort for Round 7 this weekend, where the V8-powered machines will fight it out for supremacy, for pride and glory, with BMW looking to have further success in its comeback season.