Tyres played an integral part of the second DTM Series race of the weekend at Assen, but Mike Rockenfeller managed them better than most to secure his first victory of 2019, and his first since Zandvoort back in 2017.
The Audi Sport Team Phoenix driver finished only ninth in the opening race on Saturday that was held in wet-to-drying conditions at the Dutch circuit but started third on Sunday, with his tyre management key to his chances of taking the victory.
He was able to make his starting set last more laps to some of those around him, particularly to early race leader Rene Rast (Audi Sport Team Rosberg) and BMW Team RMG’s Marco Wittmann, who had been victorious in that first race the day before.
After the stops, Rockenfeller was able to catch and pass Wittmann for second before inheriting the lead when Rast was forced into making a second stop as his tyres went dramatic off the cliff. The German took the chequered flag first, four and a half seconds clear of Wittmann to move into the top five in the Drivers’ Championship with four rounds of the season remaining.
“I’m over the moon!” said Rockenfeller. “The DTM is one of the world’s most challenging race series – and yesterday, we ended up in the lower midfield with the same set-up; but today, we were at the front.
“I had a great qualifying session and made a good start to the race. I knew that it would be all about tyre management today. I tried to save them as much as I could – and that paid off.
“When the gap to the drivers behind me increased, I paid attention to every noise in the car. Therefore, I was happy when I saw the chequered flag.”