It was the end of what has been a very exciting season in the race for the 2012 DTM Drivers’ title, with Gary Paffett just moments away from a second title, before it all seemed to work in the favour of this year’s champion, Bruno Spengler, whereas Jamie Green’s 10th place on the grid for Qualifying had out an end to his outside chance for the title.
Coming into the series finale at the Hockenheim Baden-Württemberg circuit, Paffett was leading by just three points, which meant it all went down to the wire. Qualifying saw yet again another impressive performance from Augusto Farfus, who secured Pole Position for the second race in succession.
But the focus was on both seeing just who would prevail between Spengler and Paffett, as the cars lined up, and waited for the lights to go out. Farfus led the field away, as the first of 42 laps got underway, with Paffett having a problematic start, dropping into 4th, with Spengler now 2nd, and Joey Hand jumping past the series leader into 3rd place.
Adrien Tambay and Mike Rockenfeller were the first early retirements, with the Frenchman’s A5 DTM ending up with damage to the rear right suspension, and the 2010 Le Mans winner parking his car the lap after.
Spengler took the lead easily from Farfus, as Paffett and Mattias Ekstrom made their way past Hand easily. The Canadian increased his lead over the field as time passed, with the first mandatory pitstops taking place on lap 11 from Paffett, Farfus and Ekstrom. David Coulthard, on his final race before his retirement, was making it count, as he had battled his way to 12th, but tangled with stablemate Christian Vietoris, before retiring from the race on lap 23, after coming together with Timo Scheider, who was given a drive-through penalty.
Ekstrom found himself stranded due to a loose right front wheel after his routine pitstop, ending his race suddenly, with Paffett getting ahead of Farfus, even though he could have been penalized, but no further action was taken on a potential unsafe release.
Miguel Molina also had an off-track excursion, ending up in the gravel at Sachs corner with just 15 laps to go. With the order set, and Roberto Merhi being the only driver to have to relinquish his position to outgoing champion Martin Tomczyk for an incorrect overtake, it was a mere formality, as Bruno Spengler, Team Schnitzer and BMW Motorsport took all the spoils, with a true fairytale story that no one could have seen happening this season. This was all possible due to hard work, determination and working together to ensure the best possible result, not to mention the fact that BMW had 5 M3 DTMs in the top ten.
The 29-year-old champion had achieved a goal that has been out of reach through different events in the last 6 years, but for all three titles to go to Munich’s finest, just one word is required: “WAHNSINN!”
The new champion could barely contain his emotions, as he took a leaf out of Jenson Button’s book in 2009, and sang “We are the Champions!” over the radio, as the finish line fireworks signaled the end of 10 races that have written another successful year in the DTM, as we now await what is in store for those now looking to join the series next season, as well as those staying around for the fight…