After a two-week break, Qualifying for round eight of the DTM got underway at Oschersleben, but BMW is still bringing the fight to Mercedes-Benz, as Bruno Spengler got the better of everybody, to secure his hat trick of Pole Positions for the Munich manufacturer.
But Audi found out that it can all change very quickly, as Mattias Ekström ended up in 5th place as the highest placed Audi driver, just missing out on Q4 by a fraction. Series leader Gary Paffett will line up alongside the Fanco-Canadian on the front row for tomorrow’s race, with Jamie Green and Dirk Werner making up the second row.
With temperatures on track nearly hitting 20 degrees Celsius, and the clouds hovering, events got underway with an off-track excursion into the gravel by Andy Priaulx, and Roberto Merhi ending up being held at the pit lane, due to part of the front of his C-Class DTM Coupe having something hanging underneath.
Adrien Tambay, Ralf Schumacher, Miguel Molina and Robert Wickens had their say in Q1, as times were getting faster and faster, as the track evolved. Schumacher himself, like Priaulx, seemed to be pushing a bit too hard at times, overstepping the limits of his Mercedes and the track. Spengler ended ahead of Green after Q1. Those eliminated were Tambay, Rahal Frey, Merhi, Joey Hand, David Coulthard and Suzie Wolff.
Q2 saw Ekström lead the way, with BMW’s Augusto Farfus battling to and fro with the Swedish two-time DTM champion early on, before Paffett and Green muscled their way ahead. The biggest turnaround, was that of defending champion Martin Tomcyzk, who suffered a shock absorber issue with his M3 DTM in free practice earlier today, to end up topping the times ahead of the British Mercedes duo as Q2 came to a close. Schumacher, Priaulx, Wickens, Christian Vietoris, Filipe Albuquerque and Zandvoort pole sitter Timo Scheider, found themselves eliminated after the session, which would see the top ten complete in Q3.
Q3 saw the Audi A5 DTMs of both Mike Rockenfeller and Ekström start strong, but then Green, Paffett and Werner took the fight to Ingolstadt, with Tomczyk, Mortara, Rockenfeller, Molina and Farfus and the Swede being left to watch on the sidelines, as the top four battled for Pole Position.
Spengler was once again a force to be reckoned with, as he clearly had the advantage with his M3 DTM, driving a near perfect lap, which saw him oust Paffett from Pole by just 0.086 seconds, ahead of tomorrow’s 51 lap race in the “Magdeburger Börde” region of Germany. Tomcyzk will serve his five-place grid penalty and start 11th on the grid, after his collision with Paffett during the race at Zandvoort.
29 year-old Spengler was jubilant in securing his 14th DTM Pole Position, and couldn’t have asked for any more from his car: “Being on pole again is a great feeling. Today, it was close and tough, but the car was just excellent. Tomorrow, I will give everything to win the race.”
Paffett was happy that he didn’t have any problems during Qualifying, and said that he felt good ahead of tomorrow’s race, and says that the car has good race pace, which will help the Brit’s challenge for the title, as long as he is not involved in any incidents.
So, with it all to play for tomorrow, the three-way battle between Paffett, Green and Spengler has become very interesting, especially as no one knew at the beginning of the season just how BMW would cope with such a mammoth undertaking, but the results are there now for all to see.