As it was possibly expected, events were played out in full view in the Netherlands that the 2012 season of the DTM was to provide a welcome change in the way the title race was being played out. The weather, as seems to be the case at Zandvoort, turned the grid upside down, as well as providing some action, drama and fallout for all to hear and see.
BMW suffered its fair shares of ups and downs, especially as Dirk Werner was the only driver to make it into the top ten in Qualifying, with both Martin Tomczyk and Bruno Spengler ending up 11th and 18th respectively. The weather had played a big part into what transpired throughout the weekend, as the Munich manufacturer was on the receiving end of an Audi Sport onslaught, with Timo Scheider leading the clean sweep of the top five places after an enthralling Qualifying.
But Spengler, Werner and Augusto Farfus finished well, having made it into the top ten during the race, securing some form of damage limitation. Zandvoort seemed to be a parallel with the first race of the season, where Andy Priaulx secured BMW’s first points of the season at Hockenheim, in a race of true attrition, with the rest of the drivers failing to finish or score points. Tomczyk found himself at the receiving end of a 5-place grid penalty for Oschersleben, having caused Gary Paffett to spin out, after colliding with the Briton at the famed “Tarzan” corner. The Bavarian gave his thoughts on a difficult weekend overall: “My wheel locked as I braked into the corner. I wanted to go round Gary Paffett but didn’t manage it. This incident came about as a result of the conditions. There had already been a few excursions from the wet track shortly beforehand. I had to retire after the crash. I feel sorry for Gary. I am a fair sportsman and immediately apologized to Norbert Haug, who accepted the apology. Afterwards I also went to see Gary. Personally I think the penalty is too harsh, but I accept it. Now I’m getting ready for the Oschersleben race.”
Motorsport Director, Jens Marquardt, said that the effort from the three drivers that secured points was more than just damage limitation, which more than made up for the difficult Qualifying: “Bruno Spengler made up 12 positions, in Augusto Farfus’ case it was 11. Dirk Werner also produced a flawless race. One of the key incidents was the contact between Martin and Gary. Martin’s wheels locked as the rain started to fall and he slid into Gary’s car. While Gary was able to continue, Martin was forced to retire. He has apologized to Mercedes-Benz and Gary. We accept the harsh penalty for Martin and will take it as a marker for the future. We are now looking forward to Oschersleben.”
Charly Lamm, Team Schnitzer Team Principal, praised the efforts of both his drivers, as Spengler had an additional hurdle to climb on race day, but it didn’t make that much of an impact on the Franco-Canadian’s performance: “We can be more than happy with sixth for Bruno Spengler after starting from 18th on the grid – especially when you consider he was not 100 per cent fit today due to stomach problems. To come from so far back to finish in the top six is simply fantastic. After the victory at the Nürburgring, we had a rather mixed weekend here. Despite this, we can certainly live with the result.”
Stefan Reinhold’s Team RMG outfit suffered its fair share of misfortune this weekend, with Tomczyk’s retirement after his collision with Paffett, but also the strategy for Joey Hand, that didn’t quite go according to plan: “It was an exciting weekend and today we showed a strong team performance from everyone in these difficult conditions. Martin’s retirement is a shame as we were working our way up strongly and we would have scored a good number of points. With Joey, we waited for the rain before putting him on wet tyres at the second stop. However, it didn’t rain so we had to put him back on slicks. We tried, but ultimately left pointless.”
And rookie Werner enjoyed the excitement that Zandvoort brought, in the way of the weather conditions, which, in some respects, mimic Spa-Francorchamps, with the German driver making sure he took the right course of action, and avoided being involved in the carnage of Lap 1, and was able to overtake several drivers via some great pit stops: “Towards the end it got pretty exciting again fighting with Ralf Schumacher, Gary Paffett and Jamie Green. I think I learned a lot driving against these guys today. I am happy I got points for eighth place and I think the trend shows we are on the up.”
As BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz move onto Oschersleben in 3 weeks’ time, BMW may be able to consolidate a strong race pace from this weekend, with a possible upturn of form on the cards, depending on all varying factors that constitutes excitement, action and drama when it comes to motorsport.