This coming weekend sees the penultimate round of the 2013 DTM season at the iconic Circuit Park Zandvoort, where we see just two drivers fighting for the title to succeed outgoing Champion Bruno Spengler in what has been an unpredictable season for many of the drivers and teams, after the explosive return of BMW after a twenty-year absence to do a clean sweep of all three titles.
Fast-forward 12 months and it has been somewhat a different landscape for all 22 drivers, with old faces trying to stay on top and new drivers looking to make their mark. The fact that we have both Mike Rockenfeller and Augusto Farfus as the two sole remaining participants after the dominoes started to fall last time out in Oschersleben makes it an exciting prospect.
Just 33 points separate these two, who have both won twice this year will have their hands full not just with each other, but due to the immediate proximity to the North Sea coast, the sand can also play havoc with the tyres that the drivers may decide to use with regards to grip.
Last year did just show how quickly the title can slip away from one of the challengers, as Gary Paffett found out in the latter stages of the race, when he was collected by Martin Tomczyk, who out braked himself and caused a major headache for the Brit in the fight against Spengler. The Suffolk-based driver eventually lost out to the Franco-Canadian by three points at the season finale at Hockenheim, with all his hard work from the onset being unraveled in the latter part of the year.
It did however highlight the strength of numbers through Audi Sport, as they secured a historic 1-2-3 at the Dutch track last year. Italian ace Edoardo Mortara took his second win of the year ahead of current points leader Rockenfeller and two-time DTM Champion Mattias Ekström, who is one of the most successful Audi Sport drivers with three wins and eight podium finishes. Timo Scheider, who has secured four pole positions including 2012 at Zandvoort, did not have the best of luck last year, as his A5 DTM stalled on the grid before his race ended in retirement.
Paffett and the rest of the Mercedes-Benz drivers, which includes former title hopefuls Christian Vietoris and Robert Wickens, will be still trying to end the season on a high after what has been a disappointing year for Stuttgart. Both young drivers have shown through their performances this season that they will be up there with the best of them again next season and beyond and have shown that they could have gone for the title.
33 points split the two title contenders as the 4.307km track, which is a fast and flowing ‘old-school’ track, will provide action no matter the weather, but the race for the title is not over yet. We’ll wait to see what happens as the lights go out, as TCF will be reporting live on all the action on and off the track…