The race is finally upon us for the ninth round of the 2013 DTM season, as the North Sea coast is set for the action that will take place in the dunes.
We spoke to BMW Motorsport’s Joey Hand and Audi Sport’s Filipe Albquerque yesterday evening, who are fifth and sixth on the grid for a 44-lap race, where strategy and tyres are a key talking point. This is even though DRS has been taken away from all 22 racers.
Hand said that degradation is “rather high on this track,” but is not sure on what may happen when the lights go out. “The Option versus Prime difference will be a key factor, and if the option has the same degradation levels, you could possibly see some racing there, but if the options go off, prime tyres will be used for a long time. The race will be decided on what tyres are used on the last stint.”
The American driver, who has developed his skill set to bring impressive results this season after a steep learning curve in his rookie season alongside Martin Tomczyk. He also went on to say that it will be difficult to set up overtakes around Zandvoort: “From my standpoint, I think it is going to be a difficult race to pass, with more passing in the pit lane, and even with the DRS, it is still a difficult track to pass on. When you get to a track where it is fast, and you get an aero push from another car, it is tough to try and set up cars for an overtake.”
The Portugese driver, who was one step away from the podium in Oschersleben said that it can also depend on the pit stop tactics teams employ this weekend: “It will come down to pit stops and who you come out behind, because if the driver is fast on options and in front of you, you can race. If this guy is struggling, making you slow down and then your tyres start going away, your race is really over. “
Albuquerque is also looking forward to a good race alongside Hand, and hopes to stay at the sharp end of the field, as both drivers are on the option tyres for their first stint. The majority of the field has opted to go for the standard Hankook tyres for their first stint, trying to make the most of any strategies they may have. Filipe explained what is the most important factor of all: “It will be a true case of looking after the tyres, as Zandvoort is hard on them, with the options not lasting long enough as a result.”
The wind has picked up slightly, which will be another factor along with the sand that sweeps across the track. The action awaits for all 22 drivers as they line up on the grid, ready to go for it here in the Netherlands…