In what has provided another twist in the tale for this year’s title fight, Canada’s Bruno Spengler led the 51-lap race at the Motorsport Arena Oschersleben from start to finish, showing that the Munich manufacturer have more in the tank, as the race for the title hots up with just two races to go.
Series leader Gary Paffett finished second behind one of his closest rivals, in a race, which had its fair share of dramas from the onset. Mattias Ekström stalled his A5 DTM at the start, dropping to 20th, whilst Adrien Tambay had alternator issues; as his car was being worked on to get the young French rookie back on the grid.
He managed to return to the race a couple of laps later, treating it as a test, but further technical problems forced Tambay to retire just one lap from the end. Augusto Farfus was on the move, making his way up to 5th, whilst Ralf Schumacher collided with Audi’s Miguel Molina, and spun at the first corner. David Coulthard, however, retired on lap 1, parking his C-Class Coupe in the garage with damage to the right rear wheel after contact.
Molina pitted a lap later to put on new tyres, but the Spaniard found himself falling back down the field, before retiring on Lap 6, due to issues with his A5 DTM after the collision with Schumacher. By Lap 8, Spengler had extended his lead from Paffett to just under two seconds, who was 4 seconds ahead of Jamie Green.
Lap 11 saw the retirement of Swiss racer Rahal Frey, who parked her A5 DTM outside the first corner, where Christian Vietoris spun his Mercedes just two laps later, as both Martin Tomczyk and Timo Scheider were battling for ninth place, whilst trying to out brake each other.
The first round of pit stops started on Lap 13, with Spengler, Green and Tomczyk leading the influx of vehicles, before all other remaining drivers followed suit. Tomczyk, however, retired his M3 DTM on lap 20, with his second successive DNF of the season, putting an end to his valiant title defense.
And by the time that the second round of pit stops had been completed on Lap 34, it had been an uneventful time for the drivers, until just two laps later, where Molina was aggressively attacking Priaulx, who ended up retiring on Lap 39, with Joey Hand finishing a credible 11th, having made his way from 20th on the grid.
Ekström was able to make his way back up the field, with a good strategy and race pace, and finished in 8th, ahead of fellow Audi driver Filipe Albuquerque, who he overtook for position on Lap 39. Canada’s Robert Wickens yet again showed his skills behind the wheel of his Mercedes, as the rookie ended up finishing behind highest-placed Audi driver, Mike Rockenfeller, who finished in 6th place. But as the race entered its final stages, Paffett was trying to close the gap on Spengler, as the BMW driver accidentally ran wide with just three laps left, but stayed composed to take his third victory of the season, and BMW’s hat trick of wins during their comeback season.
In a race of true attrition, there were a handful of drivers who managed to survive the onslaught from Oschersleben, with Paffett and Green securing a 2-3 finish for Stuttgart, but another highlight for BMW, was that Dirk Werner, one of the other rookies, secured a credible 12 points for his well-earned 4th place finish.
So it now stands that Paffett leads from Spengler by just 11 points, with Green a further 8 points behind. DTM now heads to Valencia in just two weeks’ time, for the penultimate round of the championship, where it is really getting to the point where one wrong move, one non-finish or one bad pit stop could be the deciding factor in just who secures the Drivers’ title for the 2012 DTM season.