After a short summer break for those involved in the DTM, qualifying for the sixth round of the season at the Red Bull Ring got underway this evening, which saw Mercedes-Benz’s Robert Wickens take his second pole position of the year in the spectacular Styrian countryside.
The pole sitter for tomorrow’s race quite literaly stole pole position by just 0.006 seconds from BMW Motorsport’s Timo Glock, with points leader Marco Wittmann rounding up the top three after what was a very closely-fought session for all 23 drivers.
The first of the sessions didn’t just see some of the Mercedes drivers struggle, as both Adrien Tambay and Edoardo Mortara were the first of the Audi ranks to be eliminated early. Both drivers will start from 20th and 21st place for the race, ahead of Vitaly Petrov and Paul Di Resta, who suffered an accident during the second free practice session earlier on in the day.
Gary Paffett would also suffer another torrid session, as the 2005 champion would be pushed out of the running by Audi’s Timo Scheider by just one lap, as both drivers set exactly the same time. Nico Müller would make it into Q2, but the Swiss driver was unable to leave the pit lane due to a battery issue.
The rookie will start in front of Paffett and behind reigning champion Mike Rockenfeller, who takes a three-place grid drop for his accident with Tambay during the race in Moscow. Scheider would also not progress further than Q2, as the Team Phoenix driver will start ahead of Mattias Ekström in 14th.
Daniel Juncadella continues to improve in terms of qualifying, as the Spaniard placed 12th ahead of another BMW rookie that is trying his very best, Portugal’s Antonio Felix da Costa. Martin Tomczyk had a better time this time around, as the 2011 Champion was able to muscle his way to 11th, behind Bruno Spengler, who appeared to struggle in terms of pace.
Joey Hand made it into the top ten for the very first time this year, as the American, who is driving for Team RBM alongside Augusto Farfus, has been languishing down around 14th to 16th place for the first half of the year. He will start ninth for the 47-lap race tomorrow afternoon.
The final session saw the times get even closer, as Wickens was able to keep it out of the tyre wall just before the half way point of Q3, as the Canadian spun on the exit of turn 7, but regained his composure to take the top spot on the grid. Glock was on course to leading a front-row lockout for BMW, but was pipped to the post ahead of Wittmann. Farfus could only muster fourth in the end, with Pascal Wehrlein fifth, sole Audi Sport driver Jamie Green sixth, with Christian Vietoris and Moscow race winner Maxime Martin rounding out the top eight.
Styria has seen plenty of motorsport spectacles this season so far, so the DTM will bring in the atmosphere, the fans, and of course the action when the lights go out in Austria.