Official Audi hero Mike Rockenfeller moved into a healthy lead in the DTM yesterday once his team-mate had taken off reigning champion Bruno Spengler’s BMW early in the 74 lap championship race in Moscow. Yup, Moscow and the DTM’s first appearance in Russia.
Russia’s ambitions to host an F1 race next year around the newly-built Sochi Winter Olympic Park meanwhile took a blow last week when it was made public that the Russian Automotive Federation (that’s the RAF) hadn’t filled in the right forms. It seems there’s an on-going with the promoters, or the contractors, or maybe it’s both. We’ve all been here before and we all know it will come down to Mr E and how much he wants the race.
Hard to know how much the only slightly less powerful Mr Putin actually wants a race in Russia however. His own personal transport requirements took precedent over DTM qualifying on Saturday which the organisers were obliged to cut short when The Presidential Jet filed a flight plan nearby.
All traffic is grounded when Mr Putin has a meeting/judo/fishing session to go to and that included the Moscow street circuit’s safety helicopter. So the grid was declared without the final Q4 shootout and any chance for Spengler to translate his morning practice form into starting advantage was gone.
So it was Rockenfeller on pole in the Phoenix RS5 with Ekstrom in the ABT Audi alongside. Spengler started fourth but didn’t get any further than lap four when Phoenix driver Miguel Molina made his move. Molina was out on the spot but Spengler’s M3 restarted, albeit dead last and could only manage 19th at the flag.
Rockenfeller led to well over half distance but lost the lead to Ekstrom after the first round of pit stops only to get it back after the second. It wasn’t the most dramatic DTM race sadly. Rockenfeller now leads Spengler by a healthy 27 points with four races left and Audi’s RS5 seems to have the momentum over Spengler’s M3. Gary Paffett – a solid fifth yesterday in the AMG C-Coupe – moves up to third, but will need the Mercedes to show its speed at the Nurburgring in a forrnight’s time if he’s to stop Rockenfeller running away with this one.
Jump over the DTM’s YouTube page for all the weekend’s action. It might be the last racing you see from Russia in a little while.