Hand: “A really big difference to last year.”

Joey Hand has come to find an improved form in the DTM in only his second year with BMW Motorsport, as it has gotten easier for the Californian since we spoke to him last year. When theCheckeredFlag.co.uk spoke to the family man the night before the race at Zandvoort, he says that he is a lot calmer before getting in the car.

For me, it was a really big difference to last year, as I had a whole lot of things to sort out, as well as not knowing the procedures well,” said the American driver, who secured his best qualifying performance of the season by the North Sea in 5th, having been just nudged out of Q4. “Everything now is a lot calmer, like when I’m sitting in the garage before I get in the car, I don’t have to think about what’s coming.”

He has said that the form has been on the rise since his switch to Team RBM alongside triple race winner Augusto Farfus over the winter due to the fact that the engineers have been keeping an eye of his driving style in the DTM a lot more closely, as it was a steep curve in his rookie year.

It seems like it is all starting to make sense for Hand as well when it comes to pushing hard at all times: “When we worked on “DTM-Style” for the first year, I now know that when I go out qualifying for today, I wasn’t working on it, but maximizing areas like you normally would, such as low fuel, new tyres, the braking zone and maximizing the throttle pick-up point.”

These efforts have shown the improvement on a regular basis, as Joey is currently 11th in the standings, between Audi Sport’s Jamie Green and Adrien Tambay at present, with 5 points splitting the trio.

Before the race itself, where Hand finished in P7 behind Tambay and ahead of Filipe Albuquerque, he was explaining about how different the way the race weekends have become, especially when it came to trying to get the maximum out of the car during Qualifying: “We were prepared for anything. We didn’t do a lot of changes, which worked real big and we decided to let things come to us, as we’ve done big changes before and lost our way in qualifying.”

His confidence to push hard, which gave him the opportunity to push to the 1-lap shootout for Q4, came when he drove his matt grey M3 DTM out of the pits: “I got to turn one, the traction felt good and I’m not sure if the racetrack got better or the car got better. I had a good feeling right away and for this qualifying, it was a case of attacking the braking zones and having more of an “attack mode” during the session.”

It seems that there were many of the drivers that were trying too hard at times, which included his fellow BMW teammates, Dirk Werner and Timo Glock, who went off at the same turn during the session. However, Hand clearly felt that the car was getting better as time went on: “That’s the way I went about it the whole time, as Q1 really sets the tone. I had a really good set of tyres, and bang, we were in Q2 comfortably and every set we put on, I found that the car was really getting better.”

But in Q3, Joey said to TCF that he told his engineers that he had “really left it all out on the track” on his final attempt. However there were some real positive vibes as a result of his best efforts so far this season: “On Turn 9, I had a bit of a moment on entry, which made me miss the apex by a metre and a half. It was about seven hundredths of a second for me to get into Q4. I was a little bit disappointed with that, even with the way the races have gone over the last few weeks, but to come away with fifth, it was a good day for me.” 

He is also looking forward to hopefully coming back next year and get better at working on his skill set that has been further advanced with the results he has had this season. There is still more to come from the American, as a new challenge will come to pass next season, but with more at his disposal, there is a chance for potential podiums and who knows, he may get a win or two.