The famed “Franconian Monaco,” the Norisring, saw Mercedes-Benz’s Robert Wickens secure victory at the fourth round of the 2014 DTM Championship amidst changeable conditions that had its fair share of dramas along the way.
The Canadian was relatively unchallenged and managed the strategy changes needed to win on the 2.3km track, and finished ahead of Audi Sport’s Jamie Green and Mattias Ekström, providing Stuttgart with a continuation of their historic success by the Dutzendteich.
The 23-strong field started under the Safety Car for the first three laps due to the heavy rainfall, as Joey Hand spun out Audi’s Nico Müller in the early goings. Green was able to remain consistent and found that his chances for a fifth win in Nuremberg come to an end after being handed a 5-second penalty for overtaking during the initial Safety Car period.
But it was the late retirement of Christian Vietoris from second due to a loose right rear wheel that saw the Brit take another welcome points haul on a track that he has been incredibly successful on. Ekström was keen to make up for last season, as the Swede made a great rush through the field from twelfth on the grid to finish on the final step of the podium.
Edoardo Mortara made the biggest impression of any of the drivers in the field, as the Team Abt driver made up for a shocking qualifying going from 20th to fourth and set the fastest lap of the race in the process. Adrien Tambay secured fifth after a topsy-turvy battle with Pascal Wehrlein, with the pair trading paint in the latter stages of the race.
Marco Wittmann retains his points lead in the series so far, but showed that BMW were not having the greatest of races, as the hometown hero finished in P7 ahead of stablemate Hand, with the Audi Sport Team Phoenix duo of Mike Rockenfeller and Timo Scheider rounding out the top ten.
The rain saw the drivers decide to stick to the Hankook wet tyres until lap 52, when Bruno Spengler decided to switch to the options and showed signs of improved pace, but the 2012 Champion ended up 11th ahead of 2005 Champion Gary Paffett, whose race was further compromised by contact from Martin Tomczyk into the Grundig corner later on.
Tomczyk, who eventually retired, was amongst the casualties that ended their races early, along with Team Abt’s Miguel Molina parking his RS5 DTM just ten laps from the end. Paul di Resta finished 15th after contact with Green initially that saw the ex-F1 driver tumble to 10th by the end of lap 1.
BMW’s ranks were found to be further down the back end of the grid, as Augusto Farfus, Timo Glock, Maxime Martin and Antonio Felix da Costa placed 14th, 16th, 17th and 20th respectively. Daniel Juncadella and Vitaly Petrov finished 13th and 19th, as they rounded out a pretty strong finish for the Stuttgart outfit.
Wittmann leads the hunt for the title by just 17 points from Mortara, with Tambay, Ekström and Rockenfeller just split by three points behind the Italian. The series now moves to the Moscow Raceway in two weeks’ time, as the resurgence from Mercedes-Benz continues in earnest.