It was only a matter of time before a “Rookie” from one of the three brands would be able to secure Pole Position for the penultimate race of the season, and BMW would secure their fourth of the season, with Brazilian Augusto Farfus taking the top spot. The former WTCC racer, along with Guernesy driver Andy Priaulx, were able to call upon their racing experience at the Riccardo Tormo circuit to help their efforts this afternoon.
But as always, there is even more drama during Qualifying, as Jamie Green found out early on. Being as he is one of the three drivers fighting to secure this year’s championship, he was found to be off the pace considerably, as he was knocked out in Q1, ending up 18th. Mercedes were really struggling for pace, as series leader Gary Paffett scraped through, as replays showed that the C-Class AMG Coupe was over steering, with a clear lack of grip. He was subsequently knocked out in Q2, placing 16th.
And the third and most unlikeliest title contender, Team Schnitzer’s Bruno Spengler, second in the title race, was pushing hard to get into the top ten, to maximise his chances for Sunday, but fell short, placing 12th in Q2. This meant that going into Q3, there was only Audi and BMW left in the fight, with the Ingolstadt brand having seven drivers, including Timo Scheider, Mike Rockenfeller and Adrien Tambay looking to help Audi Sport to repeat the feat at Zandvoort. The highest placed Mercedes-Benz driver was the Canadian rookie, Robert Wickens in 14th, who is starting to impress, with more to hopefully come from the potential F1 hopeful next season.
Tambay was clearly a man to watch, as he was surging ahead in the A5 DTM, with Edoardo Mortara and Felipe Albuquerque looking incredibly quick, as Audi looked to once again, take the fight to both Stuttgart and Munich. But Farfus was also in touch all the while. Priaulx was clearly up for a battle, as he secured a well-deserved 6th place for tomorrow. Audi’s Miguel Molina was a creditable 10th on his local track, with another home hero, Roberto Merhi struggling as well, not even making it out of Q1 in his Mercedes, with Christian Vietoris, Suzie Wolff, David Coulthard, Ralf Schumacher and Green also out early
Last year’s champion, Martin Tomczyk, who will become a proud father next March with his partner Christina Surer, has fond memories of this track, as he secured the title here in 2011 with a podium finish. But the tall Bavarian would only manage to finish 11th in Qualifying, ahead of both Spengler and American rookie, BMW’s Joey Hand.
Q4 saw Mortara’s Audi look in perfect harmony with its driver, as the car looked well and truly glued to the track, as the Italian, who has won twice this season, was battling hard against Farfus, went into provisional pole position, with Farfus going three tenths faster on his only lap. Tambay was not able to make any impact, being a fraction slower in Sector 1, before falling even further behind in Sector 2 to two tenths of a second, finishing up behind Albuquerque.
As this year has shown so far, the drivers fighting for the title may not be at such a disadvantage during the race, as Qualifying is only half the battle, with Paffett, Spengler and Green doing their upmost to get the best set up possible for tomorrow’s race, and if rain comes into play, things could rapidly change when racing gets underway.