The Audi Motorsport steamroller looks to be taking Mike Rockenfeller to DTM glory. One more second place in either of the two remaining rounds will have the DTM driver’s jug joining the 2013 Le Mans and WEC goblets on the mantelpiece at Inglostadt. BMW just held on to the advantage in the manufacture’s title after yesterday’s dominant win by Augusto Farfus, who also kept alive his personal chances of winning a cup, if only just.
Despite the dominance of the RBM Team M3 — Farfus started second but was comfortable in the lead from the first corner on — the momentum stays with Audi; Rockenfeller’s RS5 followed home by Brit Jamie Green who qualified on pole. Felipe Alburquerque and Timo Schieder bagged fourth and fifth for Audi — their best finishes of the season — relegating Mercedes-Benz to sixth with Gary Paffett, the 2005 champion racing in the DTM for the 100th time.
Nurburgring winner Robert Wickens ended his late season charge in a tangle with defending Bruno Spengler, putting (eventually) both his C63 and the M3 out of the race and out of the drivers’ title chase, ending a rotten weekend for the Canadian champ and his bid for a swansong title for the M3 in DTM.
The purpose-built, 2.3-mile Oscherleben track in the North of Germany is fast and smooth in the style of modern circuits and qualifying was intense; Spengler taking the pole ahead of Green until a tyre snafu saw him demoted to sixth, behind Green, Farfus, Rockenfeller, Dirk Werner’s M3 and Alburquerque. In DTM they go one step further than Q3 with a Q4 one-at-time pole position shoot out. Teams have to nominate tyres exclusively for Q4 should they make it, but one of those tyres managed to get bolted on to Spengler’s M3 in Q3.
Spengler and Farfus were the quick starters, Rockenfeller slightly knobbled at first by starting on the harder of the two compounds (provided by Hankook in the DTM), but as soon as Rocky led the early stoppers in to the pits on lap four to change to options he was in contention chasing down the leading pack of Farfus, Green and Spengler. With the soon to be ex-champ out of contention after the tangle with Wickens, Rockenfeller was happy to let Farfus pull away and he and Green bagged safe points for Audi.
Rocky’s lead is now 33 points ahead of Farfus’ 91. Like F1 there are 25 points for a win and 18 for a second, and just as it is with Vettel it looks like it will take a miracle and/or some rotten luck for Rockenfeller to lose this one. Then again this is DTM and, as Spengler will no doubt be contemplating, DTM can be capricious…