Audi Sport’s Mike Rockenfeller drove a perfect race from pole position behind the wheel of his RS 5 DTM to pick up his first win of the 2013 season, as the sun shone down brightly at the 1.929km Brands Hatch track, where there was plenty of action over the 98 laps. From the very beginning, the German driver kept Augusto Farfus at bay until the Brazilian driver’s Castrol EDGE BMW M3 DTM suffered possible gearbox and electrical problems on lap 67, forcing him to retire.
From the onset, “Rocky” led into Turn 1, where there were battles amongst the entire grid, with Marco Wittmann, Bruno Spengler and Timo Scheider got into the action very quickly, as cars went three wide into Paddock Hill Bend, a turn that is to Scheider’s liking.
The top 9 drivers were running option tyres, and Joey Hand got hounded at the first corner, pushing him down the order, but the American came back strong to finish P5, behind Team MTEK’s Marco Wittmann, who was very competitive over the exhausting mountain of laps.
Robert Wickens found himself on the podium, as a post race penalty was given to Gary Paffett, who was battling hard with his teammate and Wittmann, as a result of not slowing under yellow flag conditions.
Andy Priaulx’s race was a forlorn affair, as he also dropped down the order, before he was spun out by Adrien Tambay at Druids just after pitting on Lap 25, as well as receiving a stop-go penalty in the latter stages of the race, finishing 2 laps down P19 as the checkered flag was waved.
Jamie Green also had a race to forget, finishing 15th, but was battling hard to make the best of the conditions, especially as he has had a short time to still carry out his fine-tuning of the RS5 DTM. Mattias Ekstrom battled his way up the grid for a good P7, as there were cars going wide at Paddock Hill Bend and Graham Hill Bend, which included Ekstrom and Timo Glock, who was going into Graham Hill Bend but was pushed wide by Roberto Merhi, with the ex-F1 driver mounting the hill, eventually finishing P14. Edoardo Mortara retired on lap 90, after going off at the chicane en route to Clearways and hitting the barrier.
Roberto Merhi was one driver that was amongst several that were exceeding the track limits, as well as driver standards. After the race, TheCheckeredFlag.co.uk spoke to Team Abt Sportsline‘s Jamie Green, who felt that there was a clear need for the Safety Car to be deployed when Augusto Farfus‘ stricken BMW was pulled across the racing line, as Rockenfeller was going across the start/finish straight close to racing speed.
Molina was really happy with the fact that Audi had made some great progress since Hockenheim, but after his second pit stop, he said that even with the incidents on track, Audi showed their prowess with a victory leading to the Red Bull Ring in a fortnight’s time. Mortara will look to keep the demons at bay, especially with his bad run of luck in the first two races of the season so far.
We’ll have some up coming features and interviews with the drivers from this weekend, as there is still more to be talked about this weekend’s action, but we’ll leave the last words to the race winner today for Team Phoenix, who is on his way to compete in the Nurburgring 24 Hours, Mike Rockenfeller: “That was a race of the kind you wish for as a race driver. I won the start and was subsequently able to determine the pace. The option tires degraded a bit faster than at Hockenheim, which came as a surprise. But the others had the same problem and we responded correctly.
“My car functioned superbly and Team Phoenix performed two brilliant stops. Thank you for that! After Hockenheim, we put our heads together in the team – the result was seen today.”
Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich‘s home race is the background setting for the DTM in two weeks’ time, but the battle continues onwards towards the moment when we find out just “Who is next?”