During a dramatic qualifying session for the seventh round of the DTM season at the famed Nürburgring, which took place in mixed conditions, Team RMG’s Marco Wittmann took a step closer to taking the drivers’ championship after what was an impressive run to pole position over the 3.629-km track.
The current points leader broke chief rival Mattias Ekström‘s 9-year-old lap record in the process, as he was the only BMW Motorsport driver to make it through into Q3, with Audi Sport‘s Edoardo Mortara and defending champion Mike Rockenfeller rounding out the top three.
However, the biggest surprise was that both Ekström and Gary Paffett were the biggest casualties in Q1, as both drivers went out early in damp conditions on wet tyres as the sun started to dry out the track. Times were tumbling fast as Ekström set the initial benchmark with a 1:34.272, but Martin Tomczyk ended up fastest in the first session with a 1:26.607.
Along with Paffett and Ekström, who line up at the back of the grid for today’s race, BMW’s António Félix da Costa, Joey Hand and Mercedes’ Vitaly Petrov would also find themselves eliminated after the first session.
Jamie Green, Timo Scheider and Miguel Molina made it five Audi RS5 DTMs in the top six, as the brand with the four rings enjoyed a more fruitful qualifying after disappointment two weeks ago. Daniel Juncadella finally made the breakthrough, as the Spaniard made it into Q3 for the first time this season, and placed 7th, ahead of Paul Di Resta, who had his best qualifying since Norisring, where he placed second.
Christian Vietoris, who was not penalized for accidentally blocking the pit lane at the very start of Q1, eventually placed ninth ahead of Audi’s Nico Müller. Adrien Tambay and Maxime Martin completed the sixth row of the grid, as Robert Wickens could not find the pace that saw him storm to pole position at the Red Bull Ring two weeks ago. The Canadian will line up 13th ahead of Augusto Farfus and Pascal Wehrlein, who was showing good speed in Q1.
Timo Glock, who finished third two weeks ago, was also eliminated in Q2, as traffic seemed to be a problem for a lot of drivers, as his progress in qualifying seemed to be hampered by Müller in the latter part of the session. He starts 16th, ahead of fellow stablemates Bruno Spengler and Martin Tomczyk, who were trying their best to get up the grid as high as possible.
Spengler will have to fight back if he wants to win at the “Green Hell,” as he did two years ago, but will Wittmann be stopped in his charge to the title this afternoon over 49 laps?