Despite early domination at Brands Hatch shown by Audi yesterday it was Paul di Resta in his Mercedes that would lead the way in all of the four qualifying sessions to ultimately take pole position today.
After topping the morning session di Resta looked set for a good qualifying session, despite this even the Scot didn’t expect it to go just as well as it did.
Qualifying 1 was all about not being slow rather than being the fastest, with the session seeing 18 cars cut down to 14. Marcus Winklehock would post the slowest time of the session with the field being covered by 0.744 seconds. Katherine Legge was unlucky not to scrape through to Qualifying 2 after Maro Engel knocked her out of the top 14 in the closing seconds of the session. Susie Stoddart and CongFu Cheng would be the other 2 drivers not to make it through.
Talking after the session Legge talked about lack of track time: “Unfortunately, I've not been out on the track enough so far this weekend. In the end, I was lacking one thousandth to make it into the second qualifying. In that case it would have been possible to fight with 'Rocky' and PrÃ©mat. But unfortunately it wasn't enough for that. Still, I've got a more positive feeling after the qualifying than I did after the previous practice sessions this weekend. Now, we've got to move forward in the race.”
Qualifying 2 would see a further six drivers dropped and once again Paul di Resta was the fastest driver on track. Ex-F1 driver and BBC pundit David Coulthard would make his exit from the session finishing fourteenth place, 0.823 seconds behind di Resta’s fastest time. Coulthard would be joined by Jamie Green, Martin Tomczyk, Alexandre Premet, Maro Engel and Mike Rockenfeller.
The third session would see the top four drivers head through to a one lap shootout to decide on pole position. As Qualifying 3 kicked off there was 4 Mercedes and 4 Audi’s battling it out on track, unfortunately for Mattias Ekstrom, Oliver Jarvis and Miguel Molina they would take no further part in qualifying at the end of the session, Gary Paffett would also join them.
Ekstrom would admit after the session that they just didn’t have the pace needed: “My last trial was basically very good, but we were simply not quick enough. We didn't manage to get the best performance out of the tires. And if that's the case you're simply not on one of the front rows in the DTM.”
Oliver Jarvis remained positive despite going out in Q3: “Things were looking pretty good up to the third qualifying, and then I was struggling with a tendency toward understeer. I made a mistake as well and we lost two tenths. I'm hoping for a good race on Sunday in which I'll be able to make up a few positions.”
In the fourth and final session the cars of Paul di Resta, Bruno Spengler and Timo Scheider in the loan Audi would battle it out in a 1 lap run to see who would start of the front row. First out on track was Ex-F1 Grand Prix winner Ralf Schumacher who set a time of 41.751 seconds. Spengler would be the next out and would improve on Schumacher’s time with a time of 41.330 seconds. Scheider would head out on track next as he did his best to uphold the honour of Audi, 41.330 seconds was the best he could manage, sitting just behind Spengler.
“I'm very pleased with position three.” said Scheider. “Especially for me personally it was important to show that my performance in qualifying at Zandvoort wasn't a nine days' wonder. I managed to do this. But for us it's about beating Mercedes. They were a bit stronger today. Now I'm banking on our performance over the long run, which was very good in practice on Friday. Then we'll see how we can convert this on Sunday.”
It was all eyes on Paul di Resta for the final run of qualifying, with the Scot topping all Saturday sessions so far the crowd were looking forward to see what he could do. They wouldn’t be disappointed as he lapped in 41.278 taking pole position on the way ahead of his home crowd.
The Mercedes driver would admit that he felt he had an advantage being on home turf: “My family and friends are here, they are an extra motivation. In every session, we only had one outing and then made it to the front. Today, things were just going great and I hope that it will be better still tomorrow. I am competing for the championship”.
Talking after the session Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich was left ruing what could have been. “Unfortunately, we again only managed to put one of our cars into the top four.” he said. “Timo (Scheider) confirmed his good performance from Zandvoort and is again our best driver. In the most recent races we unfortunately had two poor starts from the pole position. I think the motivation to make a good start here is particularly high. Maybe we'll be able to grab a couple of positions at the start. We had a very good performance on Friday across long runs. We'll try and repeat this in the race.”
Understandably Norbert Haug of Mercedes was delighted with the qualifying result but admitted that there is still a lot to do despite starting from the front: “A great qualifying with a super lap by Paul Di Resta – which, however, almost went wrong at the very last corner. Anyway, it was good enough for the pole for Paul like last year before he won his home race here. With Bruno Spengler in second, Ralf Schumacher in fourth and Gary Paffett in fifth place, Mercedes-Benz has a good basis for tomorrow's race. Even with four C-Class cars starting from the top five positions, we by far do not feel on Saturday like the winners of Sunday.”