Unlike the BTCC, this year’s DTM won’t go down to the wire, not where it comes to the driver’s title anyhow. German star Mike Rockenfeller (pictured) set himself up with an easy job last time out and needed to bring his Audi RS5 home second just once, either in yesterday’s Dutch round or the final at Hockenheim on 20th October. He took the safe option, and without ever really challenging Augusto Farfus’ winning BMW M3, he duly brought the Audi home second yesterday at Zandvoort, adding yet another trophy to Audi’s groaning mantelpiece.
Brazilian Farfus had done all he could do to keep his late championship charge alive, scoring the first and only back-to-back wins of the 2013 series and bringing his total number of wins for the season to three, with one race to go. He is very much the DTM’s man of the moment. A win at Hockenheim would make for a sweet swansong for the BMW M3 name in the DTM. Rockenfeller, just two wins to his name this year at Brands Hatch and Moscow, scored three second places; evidence of the kind of consistency that wins championships. Well done ‘Rocky’.
BMW’s young guns — Marcus Wittman and the MTEK team — had taken pole position for yesterday’s race, Wittman’s first in the DTM. Team-mate and F1-refugee Timo Glock qualified his MTEK M3 in eighth, making it the best ever performance yet for the team in its first season of DTM. Farfus in second meant BMW locked out the front row and the M3 appears to be in good shape to take the manufacturer’s title at Hockenheim despite Audi slipping in to a narrow lead in that championship yesterday.
Rockenfeller lined up third, next to Timo Schneider’s RS5. In the race Farfus jumped Wittman off the line, Rockenfeller too and the Audi closed down the Brazilian’s BMW in the opening stages before the first pit stops. The hard work done, Rockenfeller took the cautious route thereafter, even losing that all-important second place to Schneider after the second round of stops, but the Audis were working together and Schneider’s Abt-run car duly let the Phoenix RS5 through.
Mercedes? It was another miserable day for the team that had looked so good at the Nurburgring last month when Robert Wickens had taken his first win. The best placed AMG C-Coupe yesterday was Gary Paffett’s in eighth place, something of a result for Mercedes considering Paffett had been their best qualifier — in twelfth. BMWs and Audis filled the first five rows. This has not been Mercedes’ year nor Paffett’s either, their best hope being a remote chance of a win for Paffett and Wicken’s HWA team.