With the rollercoaster season that the DTM seems to be having so far, especially with the historic first we have had this year, the script seems to be far from written first time out. Audi Sport’s Mike Rockenfeller, who currently leads the championship standings, was the man that secured pole position in the first front row lock-out by Ingolstadt this season, ahead of Mattias Ekstrom, who was excluded due to the “Watergate” incident at the Norisring.
But it was the first time in the New-Era of the DTM that qualifying was abandoned, as Q4 was first postponed for 2 hours due to the airspace being restricted, forcing the Medical helicopter to stay grounded. The reasoning was due to Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, taking a flight, which forced the local authorities to close all relevant air space all of a sudden.
In other words, if one of the drivers had suffered a major accident during Q4, requiring the use of the helicopter, it could have turned out to be a catastrophe regarding health and safety regulations, which are paramount in motorsport these days.
BMW Motorsport locked out the second row, with Hockenheim race winner Augusto Farfus ahead of defending champion Bruno Spengler, who at times was close to being eliminated in the early goings, but made it count when needed. The Brazilian was happy with the changes made to his Castrol Edge BMW M3 DTM, as it made all the difference, in what has been a very competitive manner regarding qualifying: “In the race, it will certainly be very close at the start. The thing is to get out of that in a good way.”
Britain’s Jamie Green was also making use of the track to its limit and placed as the highest Brit, putting his Abt Sportsline RS5 DTM in P5 ahead of Team Schnitzer’s Dirk Werner, with Gary Paffett again being the highest placed Mercedes-Benz driver in P7.
The Suffolk-based driver was not happy with the result, as he had hoped for better things, considering he was the winner the last time the DTM went to Shanghai in 2010, which was a new experience for all: “A goal was to become the best-placed Mercedes-Benz driver and that worked out. The other goal, being up front, didn’t.”
The tables were clearly turned on Guernsey’s Andy Priaulx, who was eliminated in Q1, after such a great performance at the Norisring, placing P21 ahead of Spain’s Roberto Merhi, whose titanic spin towards the end of the session stop any hope of the 22-year-old making it into Q2. Timo Glock was also out in Q1, placing P17, with the ex-Formula 1 driver not making it into Q2 for the first time this year, ahead of Robert Wickens, who said that the car felt good, but there were balance issues that made him struggle.
2011 Champion Martin Tomczyk’s disaster of a DTM season continues yet again, as he was P19 in his M3 DTM, with no signs yet of a potential turnaround for the German. Marco Wittman was also an early BMW casualty behind Tomczyk. Pascal Wehrlein, Daniel Juncadella and Christian Vietoris, part of Mercedes-Benz Junior Team, rounded out the top ten behind teammate Paffett, with the next generation of DTM racers proving their worth on a level playing field.
Miguel Molina showed his class and skills, as he was the highest placed Audi Sport driver behind Green in P11, with Adrien Tambay also making a comeback in P12, leading the times at one point before being knocked out in dramatic fashion. Filipe Albuquerque, Timo Scheider, Joey Hand and Edoardo Mortara will be counting on strategies to work well during the race, as the Moscow Speedway could set the cat amongst the proverbial pigeons.
Rockenfeller was curious as why Q4 was abandonded, but was happy that he had posted the time during Q3, as he secured the third pole position of his DTM career: “I have pole position and that obviously makes me happy. When in Rome, do as the Romans. Let’s wait and see what the weather will bring and what other surprises we will have in Russia.”
So, Mother Russia is set to witness what surprises the DTM may bring over 74 laps of the Moscow Speedway, as the madness continues in a very unpredictable season so far. The action awaits once again…