Spengler takes second pole for BMW at blazing-hot Nurburgring
By Berthold Bouman
Bruno Spengler (BMW Team Schnitzer) was fastest this afternoon at the Nurburgring and took his second pole position of the season for the Bavarian car manufacturer, while Eduardo Mortara (Audi Sport Team Rosberg) and Filipe Albuquerque (Audi Sport Team Rosberg) will leave from second and third position on the grid tomorrow.
As predicted, it was very, very hot at the Nurburgring this afternoon during qualifying for the sixth round of the German DTM Championship, with ambient temperatures of 30 degrees Celsius and a track temperature of 45 degrees, very difficult conditions indeed for man and machine at the 3.629km long German track.
Drivers soon ventured onto the track for their first run in the first 15-minute qualifying session, after five minutes Mike Rockenfeller (Audi Sport Team Phoenix Racing) was leading the pack with a lap of 1m24.415s, and was followed by Gary Paffett (Mercedes Team HWA), Robert Wickens (Mercedes Team Mucke Motorsport), Miguel Molina (Audi Motorsport Team Phoenix Racing), Albuquerque and Timo Scheider (Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline).
Again drivers were saving tyres during qualifying, and Spengler, Martin Tomczyk (BMW Team RMG), David Coulthard (Mercedes Team Mucke Motorsport), Rahel Frey (Audi Sport Team Abt), Andy Priaulx (BMW Team RBM) and also Susie Wolff (Mercedes Team Persson Motorsport) stayed in the pits. Spengler soon joined the rest and took second position, while current DTM champion Tomczyk was ninth at the time.
With five minutes to go Ralf Schumacher (Mercedes Team HWA), Mattias Ekstrom (Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline), Roberto Merhi (Mercedes Team Persson Motorsport), Frey, Wolff and Coulthard were in the knock-out zone, Schumacher and Ekstrom were forced to use an extra set of tyres to make sure they would make it into the second session. On his new set of tyres Ekstrom took 16th place and Schumacher took 15th place on his new set of tyres.
Spengler was fastest in the first session with a time of 1m24.293s, and was followed by Rockenfeller and Tomczyk, while Frey, Christian Vietoris (Mercedes Team HWA), Priaulx, Merhi, Wolff and Coulthard did not make it into the second qualifying session.
Local hero Rockenfeller was again first out at the start of the second session, and recorded a fastest time of 1m24.415s. Soon the rest followed, interestingly enough all seven Audi drivers had graduated to the second session, BMW had five drivers in the second session and Mercedes only four: Wickens, Jamie Green (Mercedes Team HWA), Gary Paffett (Mercedes Team HWA) and Schumacher.
Dirk Werner (BMW Team Schnitzer) and Augusto Farfuss (BMW Team RBM) both ran wide but they were able to continue their run. Biggest surprise during the second session was Paffett, who unexpectedly finished in 11th place and thus Paffett, Ekstrom, Molina, Joey Hand (BMW Team RMG), Schumacher and Adrien Tambay (Audi Sport Team Abt) did not make it into the third qualifying session.
Paffett was not happy with his pace this afternoon, “We had reckoned on doing better than eleventh on the grid. My car felt good and I didn’t make any major mistakes on my lap, which makes our result in the qualifying all the more puzzling. But still, nothing is lost yet; a decent points-scoring result is still possible, even from eleventh place on the grid.”
And thus ten drivers entered the third qualifying session, Albuquerque soon set the fastest lap of 1m23.975s, but he was passed by Rockenfeller who took 0.025s off the time of the Portuguese driver. Again drivers stayed in to save tyres, but with just three minutes remaining, all drivers were out for their final run.
Rockenfeller and Albuquerque remained first and second, Spengler was third and Mortara was fourth, and they went on to the final shoot-out for pole position. Tomczyk, Farfus, Green, Werner, Wickens and Scheider took positions five to ten.
First on track for the final shoot-out was Mortara for Audi, and the young Spaniard was fast in the first section of the lap, made no mistakes in the second section, made a mistake and ran wide in the third section and ultimately set a time of 1m24.505s.
Next was Spengler, the Canadian was faster in the first section, made no mistakes at all and finished with a time of 1m24.284s. Albuquerque was the third driver on track, but he was slower than Spengler and completed his lap in 1m24.555s.
Rockenfeller was the only one who could still spoil BMW’s party at the Nurburgring, but he was already half-a-second slower in the first section, and finished fourth.
BMW scored their second pole of the season, and Audi has four cars in the top five. Pole sitter Spengler was happy with the result as it was also the 40th anniversary of BMW Motorsport, “I am really proud I was able to claim the second pole position for BMW here at the Nürburgring. It is nice to be able to give BMW M such a nice birthday present.”
And he added, “I am a bit surprised about how qualifying panned out. It didn’t look so good for us in the morning. The set-up was not perfect at that point. However, BMW Team Schnitzer did a super job to get us back on track. My BMW Bank M3 DTM was consistently good in all the qualifying sessions. I sensed that today was going to be special.”
Mortara in second place commented, “I’m happy because the result is fantastic. It’s the third time in six races that I made it into the top four. Things are going much better than last year. We did a good job on the set-up with the team. Unfortunately, in qualifying I didn’t have exactly the same feeling. But we’re on the front row. With a good start tomorrow, anything’s possible.”
And his marque colleague Albuquerque said, “I’m very satisfied. Having made it into the top four in DTM qualifying is an incredibly good feeling because it was extremely close again today. In the third qualifying segment I drove a very good lap, but in the fourth session the tire pressure wasn’t optimal so I couldn’t attack Bruno Spengler. In any event, my third place on the grid will open up the opportunity to me of winning tomorrow. We’ll be giving everything for that.”
A bad day for Mercedes, as Green was the highest ranked driver in seventh place, while Wickens was the second fastest Mercedes driver in ninth place. Mercedes-Benz Motorsport said, “ Things can go like this — but you just have to deal with the situation, and we can. It’s been already 10 years since the best-placed Mercedes was on the fourth row of the grid in a DTM race. We were third at the finish, so tomorrow is another day.”