The 2013 season is just 4 races in, and we have yet another leader in the race for the DTM title, as Audi Sport’s Mike Rockenfeller now is tied on points at the top of the table with BMW Motorsport’s Bruno Spengler. There is now a four-week break between now and the halfway point at the famed Norisring, as the 2010 Le Mans winner now leads on place finishes in comparison with the defending champion.
Strategies galore have been the way to secure increased performances during races so far this season, as the addition of option tyres from Hankook and the DRS have really changed the dynamic of the optimized vehicles for the 2013 season, and Rockenfeller has played this card very well.
Ingolstadt’s poor run of form in 2012 was a catalyst for the entire outfit to work hard at making sure that the new Audi RS5 DTM was a title contender for 2013. ‘Rocky’ is clearly putting his experience to good use, which has brought him great success this season, as he is concentrating on the fastest touring car series for the moment, rather than venturing to Le Mans for the 24 Hour race next week.
Having switched to Option tyres on lap 4, the Swiss-based driver was clearly the quickest on track, setting a new fastest lap record that eclipsed the record set by current F1 driver and former DTM champion, Paul Di Resta, with a 1.18:268 on Lap 7. This just shows how the series has advanced over the years, but this doesn’t mean that one driver alone could be in the fray to win the title.
‘Rocky’ now has a chance to make good his intentions, as he had nothing but praise for the work that had gone on behind the scenes for his fantastic drive around the 3.478km counter-clockwise circuit: “Thank you to Audi and to Team Phoenix: My car was absolutely fantastic today, especially on option tires. On standard tires, it was a bit more difficult, but we had a great strategy and perfect pit stops. In the end, Gary Paffett was a bit faster, but we scored important points for the Championship. It was a good race for us. I’m really pleased.”
Norisring is a home race for the Ingolstadt team, as Head of DTM, Dieter Gass commented on the overall performance of some of the drivers and looks forward to what is to come: “Mike drove another really brilliant race today. He made no mistakes and was running with a good strategy. Jamie Green scored his first points as an Audi driver. Mattias Ekström managed an amazing recovery. In total, four of our cars finished in the points. In four weeks from now, an Audi driver will be traveling to the Norisring as the leader of the standings. We’re going to work hard on showing a strong performance at our home race too.”
With a revitalized approach to the DTM by Audi Sport for 2013, they can look forward to consistent results for the rest of the season, but as we have already found out by this weekend that if one change gets made that compromises results, the other drivers can be back in the fight before they know it…