The Moscow Speedway saw 74 laps of action, as the 2.553km Sprint Track, located 80 kilometers outside of the Russian capital, saw Mike Rockenfeller secure victory by just 1.3 seconds on the 6th round of the 2013 DTM season, as the second part of the title fight got underway after a three week break. Mattias Ekstrom and Augusto Farfus rounded out the podium places, having fought off a charging Adrien Tambay for the last few laps, as the title fight gets another kink in the road along the way.
The weather was overcast at the beginning, with the track temperatures hitting the high 30s, as the cars roared away into the first set of corners. The action was exciting with the cars jostling for position, as Rockenfeller, Ekstrom and Farfus made a clean getaway.
Bruno Spengler was to suffer quite badly, as the 2012 Champion was firstly overtaken by Jamie Green, Gary Paffett and Adrien Tambay in the first three laps of the race distance. This was before Miguel Molina’s Senna-esque move into Turn 1 on lap 4 spun the Canadian around onto the run-off area, which forced the Spaniard to retire his Audi RS5 DTM just three laps later. Spengler would find that the car was not the same after contact, and would languish at the back end of the final result, being lapped by winner Rockenfeller and finishing in P19, ahead of Andy Priaulx, whose race this time around was not as spellbinding as at the Norisring last time.
Along with Molina, Edoardo Mortara was the only other driver to retire during the race due to damage to the right front of his Audi, as contact with Daniel Juncadella on Lap 21 forced the Italian ace, who won twice last year, to park his car in the garage. Juncadella, who finished behind Martin Tomczyk in P18 was given a couple of 1-second time penalties for exceeding the track limits on several occasions, with Marco Wittmann being given a stop-go penalty later in the race on Lap 51 for ignoring blue flag conditions. The German youngster finished ahead of Team MTEK cohort Timo Glock, showing how easily the DTM can change things around.
Paffett was able to gain some ground during the race, opting to take both pitstops in his EURONICS C-Class AMG Coupe relatively early to maximize damage limitation, and even though he brushed his way past former teammate Jamie Green, he ended up being the top Brit during the race, finishing as top dog for Mercedes-Benz this time. This now elevates him to 3rd in the overall standings with 4 races left to run, with Spengler now 27 points behind “Rocky” in the fight for the title.
Rockenfeller’s race strategy was perfect to say the very least, as the 2010 Le Mans winning driver had the race in the palm of his hand, as Ekstrom was exercising the demons from what happened last time out, and made sure he went straight to the weighing scales after parking his RS5 DTM in Parc Ferme. Farfus brought himself a welcome podium finish, as the battle between himself and Tambay was close and hard-fought, as the Frenchman was pushed wide going into the final corner a couple of laps from the end, as he attempted to go around the outside, but ran out of room. This late charge from Tambay was due to the fact that he ran on his first set of Standard tyres until Lap 56, where he pitted from the lead of the race.
It could have been an Audi 1-2-3, but Farfus kept Munich’s honour high, with Ekstrom taking the biggest leap in the standings to be just 7 points behind Robert Wickens, who finished behind fellow Mercedes drivers Christian Vietoris in P10 and Pascal Wehrlein, who was just outside the top ten. Vietoris is the only driver that has scored points at every race so far this season, and has kept him in the hunt for the title, even though that elusive first win is not that far away.
Joey Hand and Dirk Werner scored some welcome points in P7 and P8 for BMW Motorsport, which currently leads the manufacturer standings with 217 points, ahead of Mercedes with 188 and Audi with 176. Timo Scheider also scored points this time out, as he made a good strategy work out with a P9 finish, but the two-time champion wants a lot more than that.
With the title going to someone this season, Mike Rockenfeller has shown that he is one driver that is hunting it down, and has one hand on it already. But until he knows that trophy is his, he will keep fighting & keep pushing tooth and nail for a goal he wants. The Nurburgring sees the drivers back on German soil in two weeks’ time, as BMW will look to be successful on its spiritual home for the last 40 years. Spengler needs to fight back to keep himself in the fight that everyone can’t see an answer to yet…