As has been customary for the last two seasons in DTM, there is a show event that is hosted at the famed Olympic Stadium in Munich, where BMW is at its home. This event is a very unique and ultra-competitive showcase for the drivers and their skills in a very challenging 0.614km symmetrical layout, with it being a shoot-out between all 22 drivers from the three manufacturers, but it is a non-scoring round, providing a great atmosphere for all those attending.
Last year's individual event winner, BMW Team Schnitzer driver Bruno Spengler, again showed that he was more than happy with the tight and twisty circuit as always. That was until he came up against Mercedes-Benz's Jamie Green, as the Canadian led up until the very last part, where he locked the brakes on his BMW Bank M3 DTM, allowing the Brit to snatch victory, and head to the final, where he lost out to Audi's Mattias EkstrÃ¶m for the overall win. But Bruno showed his appreciation for the event itself, and reminisced about the day's events: “It is a real shame I did not make it into the final. The conditions were not easy, as the track was gradually drying out as we were racing. Our team did a great job in the pit stop and I was leading the race. Then I braked a little bit too hard and lost time, allowing Jamie to come through and win. That was my mistake. Still, I hope the fans enjoyed themselves. It was certainly a nice experience for us drivers.”
But it was not such a great start for the manufacturer, as both Team Schnitzer's Dirk Werner and Team RBM's Andy Priaulx were early casualties to the Audi duo of Rahal Frey and Filipe Albuquerque.
Priaulx is still getting to grips with the new car, having had a difficult season so far, and explained how he felt it had been going here in Munich: “My first two laps were good. Then I made a mistake braking and lost valuable time. It was a close race and Felipe Albuquerque drove very well. The other track was definitely a bit faster this morning. However, that is part and parcel of a stadium event. I am disappointed. There may not be any points up for grabs, but it is about pride.”
The weather had been a factor, as both BMW drivers were drawn as having the layout, where standing water was on the exit of one of the corners, which was a result of the overnight rain shower Munich kindly received from the heavens. Team RMG's Joey Hand, however, was able to progress, as Mercedes Junior Team driver Roberto Merhi was given a 6 second time penalty, with the Colorado native facing EkstrÃ¶m in the next round, and was promptly eliminated by the 2-time champion, losing out by just over 1.5 seconds. The American thoroughly enjoyed himself at the Munich show event, and enjoyed the challenge of one-on-one duels, even though he'd never competed in the format before: “The event in the Olympic Stadium is definitely very special. That is a real event for the fans, just a great show. They could get closer to the teams and drivers here than at any other race this season.”
Defending DTM Champion, Martin Tomcyzk, had progressed to the semi finals, even though he didn't compete in the first round of races, but narrowly missed out on the final by just 0.090 seconds, with EkstrÃ¶m beating the Bavarian, but that still didn't stop him putting on a show for the crowd, appreciating the support of the fans and the BMW workers that attended this great event, but his focus was clearly shifting to racing for the championship: “Like yesterday, the atmosphere was superb today and we had great fun. I am now looking forward to the next challenge at the NÃ¼rburgring.”
The pit crews also have a hand in showcasing just how fast the stops are for all four tyres being changed came into play for the latter part of the day, but it was great to see that BMW had a great fight all through the stages, but Augusto Farfus didn't advances any further than the quarter finals, due to a pit stop equipment problem, but the Brazilian felt that the car was working well, and had it worked out, he would have advanced.
But the mood in the BMW camp was well summed up by Motorsport director Jens Marquardt, with the atmosphere that BMW now helps to provide in addition to the DTM and the event at the marque's home city: “Generally speaking it was a great event in our home city of Munich. Our drivers put on a great show for the fans. It was nice to see lots of BMW flags in the crowds. We had super support, particularly from the many BMW employees. We saw exactly the same in BMW Welt, which was extremely well visited over the weekend. Bruno Spengler was once again able to show the conditions in the stadium suit him. Third place is a good result. Whatever happens, our drivers certainly had fun, and you could see how determined they were to do well at this event. Everyone is now really looking forward to our next race at the NÃ¼rburgring, when we will be battling for points again.”
But even with the way things are going at the moment, Bruno Spengler and Martin Tomcyzk are the main force to be reckoned with, as they are placed 3rd and 4th in the drivers title, but BMW find themselves to have a big mountain to climb in the Manufacturer standings, with Mercedes Benz having a 52 point lead over Audi, with BMW just 4 points behind.
So in just 4 weeks time at the famed NÃ¼rburgring, we'll see whether the Munich manufacturer has made the steps necessary to fight back in the second half of the season, especially as Gary Paffett looks to keep and extend his lead at the top of the table.