DTM Preview: Round 2: Brands Hatch

by Alex Goldschmidt

The DTM takes its first trip away from mainland Europe to the United Kingdom, as the V8-powered touring cars will take to the Indy circuit, which has the shortest distance, but the highest lap count of the season at 98 laps.

The series sees a British driver at each of the manufacturers that represent the 22 cars that will fight tooth and nail along the 1.929km track, with the cars reaching speeds approaching just over 140mph, as the cars approach the rollercoaster-style Paddock Hill Bend just after the start/finish straight.

Mercedes-Benz ‘s Gary Paffett, Audi’s Jamie Green and BMW’s Andy Priaulx look to set alight the Kent track, which will soon roar to the tune of over several thousand horsepower this coming Sunday, with the home crowds looking to spur their heroes on.  The competition has been stepped up another gear with the DRS and Hankook option tyres, with the teams and drivers working out the optimum strategies possible.

The season opener showed how much the dynamics of the two new additions to the 2013 regulations have made the racing a more of an exciting prospect, as there were close quarter battles throughout the whole race.  The racing and qualifying will be even closer at Brands Hatch, as the track provides no forgiveness for even the slightest error from the fiercest competitors in the world of touring cars.

There is another factor that could provide an additional challenge for the teams, as the British weather can sometimes be quite uncompromising at the best of times. The wet race in 2011 was a prime example, but Green is hopeful of more dry track time in the RS5 DTM to get up to speed, as he explained in the Friday pre-weekend press conference: “Being in a new team, I’m still finding my feet with the Audi, and hopefully we get some dry running in free practice. I haven’t won here yet in DTM, so I’d love to do that. We’ll see what happens.”

In many respects, they may have the crowds behind them, but home field advantage doesn’t always help at the best of times with the way that DTM has evolved.

Paffett said that to “tick it off the list,” as he won from Pole Position last year in dry conditions, was a great feeling. “Maybe you try a bit harder when you’re at your home race, but as I did last year, treat it like every other race and do the best that you can. The thing is that if it is a circuit that your car doesn’t suit or that you don’t like too much, it is just as difficult as anywhere else, whether you’re racing here, in Germany or Holland.”

Andy was reflective over events in Hockenheim, gathering increasing pace in practice and qualifying, before his race ended early with just two laps to go, due to a gearbox problem. He is not blinkered in any way, shape or form, as he said that the DTM is “the toughest championship out there,” especially with the breadth of quality that is in the field this season: “There’s no ‘A’ and ‘B’ car anymore, as everyone has got the best chance to win. A small improvement can put you at the front and with a small mess; it can put you at the very back of the grid. Last year was my first one in DTM, and toward the end of the season, it was good at the end and the beginning, but it doesn’t take long for your fortunes to change, if they’re positive or negative. It didn’t go to plan at Hockenheim, so you try to do the best job you can. I’ve won here before, and won many races, but that doesn’t guarantee that I’m going to win this weekend.”

We’ll find out this coming weekend just will have the measure of the busy nature of this short track, as the drivers are match-fit, so when the visors go down for battle, DTM is the background for an all-out war…

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