Rookie Joel Eriksson Stars at Hockenheim DTM Opener

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Credit: Mattias Persson/Motorsport Publication.

Joel Eriksson made his DTM Series debut at Hockenheim last weekend with BMW.

The Swede took the honours of being top rookie in both qualifying sessions and both races staged over the weekend.

Having finished twelfth on Saturday after stalling on the grid, Eriksson came to the fore on Sunday to seal an incredible third place on the grid.

In the process he out qualified all bar one of the champions on the grid; Paul di RestaMarco WittmannMike RockenfellerGary PaffettPascal WehrleinBruno Spengler and Mattias Ekström – René Rast was the only champion ahead of him on the grid.

However, he initially dropped back a few places at the start and struggled with his balance but recovered strongly after the pit stop phase.

Eriksson clawed his way into podium contention, and even sniffed the chance at going for the win when he closed up on Timo Glock and Gary Paffett as they squabbled for the lead.

The BMW driver got himself into this position after pulling off a courageous move on di Resta with ten minutes remaining in the race.

He eventually was passed by Rockenfeller, who in turn went on to take second from Paffett. Eriksson managed to cling on to fourth with some incredible defensive moves to finish just 0.3 second behind Paffett in third.

“It’s been a great first weekend overall, but I have to admit I’ve got mixed feelings at the moment,” said Eriksson. “It’s great to finish fourth in my second race in DTM, but being so close to the podium, it’s obviously a bit disappointing to miss out. You always want more, I guess. The Sunday race was an eye-opener for me, coming from single-seaters. It’s tough racing in the DTM and you need to get your elbows out. Looking back, I feel the situation with Paffett cost me the podium today, but I’ll learn from it. P4 is not bad at all and I’m pleased with this debut.”

Eriksson leaves Hockenheim sixth in the standings with 13 points to his name.

The next round of the DTM takes place at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz on 18-20 May.

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