It has been a very dramatic year, where Bruno Spengler himself surprised a lot of people upon BMW Motorsport’s return to the DTM after a lengthy hiatus, not just once or twice, but three times, securing Pole Position 3 times, with all three races being led by the 29-year-old Canadian from lights to chequered flag.
The Munich outfit had come back after 20 years, and really brought the fight to both Audi Sport and Mercedes-Benz, in what has been a year of drama for all 22 drivers. But no one expected how competitive the outfit would be so quickly, with Bruno taking an unexpected win at Lausitzring, and then at the “40 Years of M” weekend at the Nurburgring, which really made the story of the season just become that little more interesting for all.
His preparations for the race this Sunday are in full effect, as he says that he now is “in racing mode.” He is just three points behind Mercedes-Benz’s Gary Paffett in the race for the title, but says that a lot more flexibility is available in what is the second visit to Hockenheim, especially as he retired due to an accident with Ralf Schumacher in the first race this season. “Because the cars were homologated before the start of the season, the possible range of technical changes was limited. But it’s, of course, a different matter altogether when it comes to the set-up of the car.
“In this respect, we quite simply have a lot more experience than we did half a year ago. That’s a really important factor. I would have liked to have the points I lost in Hockenheim and later on in Spielberg in the bag. However, that’s racing.”
But his preparations for the race are exactly the same as usual, with him still getting nervous, as does any racing driver, rather than concentrating on it from a title challenge perspective, but is very happy that it’s time to race again: “The stands are going to be full of spectators again. It’s going to be another great goose-pimple-inducing atmosphere.”
In advance of this weekend, he also got the chance to properly meet the fans at Oschersleben for last week’s “Drive Like Bruno” event, with a rest period and a lot of fitness training between then and Thursday before arriving at Hockenheim. The Canadian also has a couple of his own rituals, such as doing a lap of the track in his head before Qualifying, as well as putting his left race shoe on before the right.
Bruno has been close to winning the title in both 2007 and 2010, with differing results for each season, narrowly missing out on overall title honours, but is ready for being the hunter, and is not dwelling on the past. “I’m going into the final in neutral and—as always—I’ll give the best performance I can together with BMW Team Schnitzer. Then we’ll see what comes out of it at the end. We can all be very happy with what we’ve already achieved in 2012.”
So, will it be a case of third time’s a charm for Bruno? When the lights go out on Sunday, we’ll find out.