It was an action-packed 9th round of the 2012 DTM season that would see a historic moment, with BMW’s Augusto Farfus becoming the first driver from Brazil to win a DTM race, plus there was a severe amount of carnage along the way. Better yet, the way things transpired this afternoon has now brought along a major change in the way that the story may end this year.
The first bout of dramas took place from the very beginning of the race, especially with Bruno Spengler being penalized for a jump-start at the start as the lights went out, followed quickly by 2011 Champion Martin Tomczyk ending up in the gravel after the very first turn. Spengler would, however, finish in 6th place after a well-paced drive to the finish, putting him within clear striking distance of the DTM Drivers’ title, as well as posting the fastest lap of the race.
This was after contact with Spanish driver Roberto Merhi, who had a torrid weekend on home soil. The Bavarian was out of the race at that point, with the young Mercedes Junior Team ace retiring his C-Class AMG Coupe later that lap, after his left door had fallen off after the impact. His countryman, Audi Sport driver Miguel Molina, started 10th, did have a farily good race, but later in proceedings, he went off at Turn 4 with a brake issue. Rookie Mercedes driver Robert Wickens had sent a radio message that the car wasn’t quite right, with the Canadian hitting the tyre barriers on the outside of Turn 1 on Lap 4, with a retirement due to the initial contact with Tomczyk on the first lap.
Series leader Gary Paffett’s race and season went from bad to worse. The Briton was starting behind Audi’s Rahal Frey, who had done a great job in Qualifying, but it all got out of hand for him as well as Tomczyk in Turn 1, with BMW’s Joey Hand, followed by contact with Mercedes’ Christian Vietoris the very next corner. He was then called in for a 2-second pit stop penalty in Lap 13, before retiring on Lap 27. This now really puts him under pressure for the title, and it would remain to be seen, just how his two rivals would fare.
Jamie Green, his team-mate, would overtake the McLaren test driver for 15th place on Lap 6, but would end up getting a drive-through for exceeding the track limits, a penalty that would also be awarded to Ralf Schumacher for the same infraction. The Briton would end up finishing in the last of the points positions, in 10th, putting him pretty much out of contention for the title, but was the highest-placed Mercedes driver that weekend.
Timo Scheider was able to make up some good places with some strong, clean racing, but would retire in Lap 29 with a powertrain issue, along with Edoardo Mortara and Joey Hand doing the same later in the race. Andy Priaulx, who had started sixth, had a very consistent race, finishing in 8th place, but would have placed ahead of Frey, who put in a truly stellar performance to secure her first points for Audi: “I’m totally pleased. I advanced from position 15 to seventh place, which is something I hadn’t expected myself. I gave everything; it was a very fierce battle. And today I scored my first DTM points. I’ve always received fantastic support from Audi and the team. Today I managed to convert this support, for which I’m very thankful, into a result – and that’s worth a lot to me.”
Adrien Tambay has really been the man to watch, as his impressive performance in his Audi Ultra A5 DTM throughout this weekend has made people take notice. The son of ex-F1 driver, Patrick, has shown great maturity on such young shoulders, with his pace increasing several fold over the weekend, culminating in his 2nd place finish. The 21-year-old was ecstatic over his best achievement of the season: “It was a fantastic race. In the beginning, it was hard; I had a bad start. Then I was quicker than Filipe but it was difficult to overtake him on the track. The guys did a great job at the pit stop. I want to thank everyone at Abt and Audi. In the second stint, I exerted a lot of pressure. Afterwards, I had to stay really focused through to the end. I’m very happy to be on podium for the first time.”
Mattias Ekström had a very strong race alongside his young French stablemate, taking the final step on the podium, which was a welcome relief for the two-time DTM champion: “I had a very good start and managed to even overtake two cars that were running wide in turn two. I had the feeling that I was faster than Filipe and ‘Rocky’ in front of me. My team managed a fantastic first stop and I was able to pass ‘Rocky.’ In the second stint, I was driving faster than Filipe in front of me. Then we stopped one lap in front of him and also managed to pass him. My car had perfect balance, the stops were perfect and so was the strategy. Because ‘Edo’ (Mortara) retired I even managed the leap onto the podium. This trophy goes to my team.”
But it was Farfus, who was clearly beside himself with joy on his maiden victory after 46 laps, as he was trying to hold back his emotions, whilst trying to thank the team as he crossed the finish line, later saying that it was a privilege to win in the DTM, and was extremely happy, celebrating with his wife and young daughter in parc ferme. Jens Marquardt, BMW’s Motorsport Director, congratulated the former WTCC driver with a great victory, and looks forward to the final round in Hockenheim: “Being on pole and bringing victory home here as a rookie driver was a great performance. We have four BMWs in the top ten and Bruno has reduced the gap. Now, we have an entirely open championship situation for Hockenheim, which is what we wanted. Now, we need to continue to work in a concentrated way and see what comes out.”
So it all goes down to the wire, as the conclusion nears for the first of many seasons under the new era of the DTM. Two men now are in the frame for an exciting finale around the famed Hockenheim circuit in just three weeks’ time, with just three points separating the pair. Spengler and Paffett will be trading blows, as the driver that puts it all on the line, may be the one that takes the spoils. The DTM will see a new champion, but will he be driving a BMW? Or a Mercedes?