The first time that the wheels turned in anger this weekend for what could potentially be the deciding race in the fight for the title saw BMW Motorsport‘s Augusto Farfus lead the pack with a 1:31.904, just over a tenth ahead of Audi Sport‘s Edoardo Mortara and Adrien Tambay. Both drivers from Ingolstadt had their share of dramas during the session, as the cool breeze kept the track tricky for all on the abrasive surface. Mortara spun out with just 20 minutes left at Tarzan, bringing out the yellow flags as he tried to get back on track, as Tambay went off line and hit the gravel, with both drivers requiring repairs to their RS5 DTM race cars.
The previous evening during the roll out saw a near miss for both Farfus and points leader Mike Rockenfeller at the end of the pit lane, where the Brazilian driver was deemed to have been released from his pit box in an unsafe manner and had to abruptly brake to avoid repairs overnight for both cars. He was issued with a 2000 Euro fine regarding the matter, but was not given a penalty. “Rocky” ended up in sixth place behind Martin Tomczyk after the 90-minute session.
Audi was strong from the beginning, as Mortara set a very quick time of 1:32.088, which was not eclipsed until the final 5 minutes, as the radiant sunshine helped to bring warmth to the track to an improved 15 degrees. He was followed by Mattias Ekstrom, Filipe Albquerque, Timo Scheider and Rockenfeller, as Ingolstadt held on to the top five for the first ten minutes of the session. Timo Glock, who placed in 16th, was also at the top of the pack by the halfway point, coming to within two tenths of Mortara, as his Team MTEK stablemate Marco Wittmann ended up going P4 at the end of the session.
Bruno Spengler was shown some consistent lap times around the 4.307km circuit, placing ahead of Scheider and Miguel Molina, who is looking to score points once again in what has been another difficult season for him. Esktrom and Albuquerque placed 12th and 13th respectively with BMW duo Dirk Werner and Joey Hand placing 15th and 17th.
The British contingent saw Team RMG’s Andy Priaulx in 11th place, showing a good turn of place around this fast and flowing circuit at the North Sea coast, with Jamie Green in 14th and Gary Paffett in 18th. Mercedes did appear to struggle during the session, with Christian Vietoris as their leading driver in 10th place as Paffett suffered a couple of lock ups during the session. The bottom four places of the session were filled with the remaining drivers from Stuttgart, as Roberto Merhi led countryman Daniel Juncadella, Pascal Wehrlein and former title hopeful Robert Wickens.
Practice has given all the time it can to the drivers and the teams, as qualifying will determine just who was the measure and the courage to push for pole position this afternoon. Will Scheider take his fifth success at the front of the grid, and who will be in front of the other when it comes to Farfus and Rockenfeller, as the gloves now come off in the Netherlands?