DTM: Spengler takes pole for BMW at Oschersleben
By Berthold Bouman
Bruno Spengler (BMW Team Schnitzer) took pole for BMW today for round eight of the Deutschen Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) at the German Motorsport Arena Oschersleben. The Canadian was fastest during the final shoot-out for pole, next to him on the grid in second place is championship leader Gary Paffett (Mercedes Team HWA), and his marque- colleague Jamie Green (Mercedes Team HWA) will start from third place on the grid tomorrow.
A happy Spengler said, “Today has been sensational again. I am obviously very proud of my third pole position of the season. My car was really quick and I drove a flawless lap. That gives us a great base on which to build tomorrow.
However, you certainly cannot take the race for granted. In claiming pole I have only done half of the job. My rivals will be doing everything in their power to make my life as difficult as possible. The first corner is sure to be a tight affair. I expect a tough race, but it is looking very good at the moment.”
A dark and cold Oschersleben circuit this afternoon, Andy Priaulx (BMW Team RBM) was the first to lose control on cold tyres and his car ran through the gravel and the grass, but the Briton was able to continue with only 12 minutes to go in the first qualifying session. Also problems for Roberto Merhi (Mercedes Team Persson Motorsport), as something got stuck under the floor of his car when he wanted to exit the pit lane.
With ten minutes to go Mike Rockenfeller (Audi Sport Team Phoenix Racing) was leading, followed by Adrien Tambay (Audi Sport Team Abt), Mattias Ekstrom (Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline), Augusto Farfus (BMW Team RBM), Timo Scheider (Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline) and Robert Wickens (Mercedes Team Mucke Motorsport). Martin Tomczyk (BMW Team RMG) again hit the curbs very hard at the second chicane, when he did the same this morning, his right front-wheel suspension broke and his mechanics had to work hard to repair it in time for qualifying.
Spengler waited long before leaving the garage for a timed lap in Q1, but when he finally came out he immediately scored the fastest time. Not for long as Edoardo Mortara (Audi Sport Team Rosberg) was quicker with a lap of 1m21.240s and demoted Spengler to second place.
But is was Spengler who was ultimately fastest in the first session with a time of 1m20.933s, Ekstrom was in the danger zone on 17th place but the Swede improved his time and took tenth place and a ticket to Q2. Ralf Schumacher spun on his last lap but was able to continue and he also made it into the next qualifying session.
The last six drivers, Tambay, Rahel Frey (Audi Sport Team Abt) , Merhi, Joey Hand (BMW Team RMG), David Coulthard (Mercedes Team Mucke Motorsport) and Susie Wolff (Mercedes Team Persson Motorsport) did not make it into Q2.
And thus 16 drivers started in the second session, Ekstrom was out first and set the fastest lap, he thought he could go even faster and added another lap to his run to finally set a time of 1m21.041s. At the same moment Spengler was a bit disappointing in tenth place, but the Canadian also stayed out for another lap and then took third place, of course fast enough to go to Q3.
All drivers went into the pits for new tyres for their last run, Green had a problem with one of the build-in jacks, and he was pushed back into the garage for repairs, but he was on first spot at the time so his team wasn’t really worried as he already had secured a place in Q3.
Schumacher was 11th and tried to improve his time, but the German stayed in 11th place and was out of the next session, as were Priaulx, Wickens, Filipe Albuquerque (Audi Sport Team Rosberg), Scheider and Christian Vietoris (Mercedes Team HWA).
The ten remaining drivers played a waiting game in Q3 to save tyres, except Rockenfeller, Molina and Ekstrom who were on a two-run strategy. But with five minutes to go, Green took first spot, he was followed by Rockenfeller and Ekstrom.
With just two minutes remaining the race for the first four positions started, surprisingly Dirk Werner (BMW Team Schnitzer) was the man to beat as he had taken the lead with a lap of 1m20.622s. He stayed in first place when the chequered flag was waved, and Werner, Paffett, Green and Spengler made it into the final top-four shoot-out for pole position.
First out for his pole lap was Spengler in de black BMW, no mistakes and a flawless lap, and a time of 1m20.916s for Spengler. Green was almost two-tenths of a second slower in the first sector, three-tenths of a second slower in the second sector and finished his lap in 1m21.226s.
Next was championship leader Paffett, he was 0.046 seconds slower in the first sector, 0.087 seconds in the second sector and was in the end 0.086 seconds slower than leader Spengler, who was already celebrating his pole position while Werner was still on his qualifying lap. But Werner tried too hard, ran wide at the last turn and as a result was almost one second slower than the Canadian who will start from first place on the grid tomorrow.
Second-place man Paffett said, “That was a superb, exciting qualifying, and after a tough race weekend at Zandvoort, I’m very pleased to be on the front row tomorrow in my 90th DTM race. I missed pole position by barely a tenth of a second. We have a very fast car, and I am highly motivated and will do everything tomorrow to secure my third win in Oschersleben and extend my lead in the championship.”
Green was also positive ahead of the race on Sunday, “We had a hard-fought qualifying session today. My lap times in Q2 and Q3 were very good, but unfortunately, I was unable to post a perfect lap in the final part of qualifying. With grid positions two and three, Gary and I have an excellent platform for tomorrow’s race.”
Tomczyk has a five-place grid penalty for tomorrow’s race, earned after he pushed Paffett of the circuit at Zandvoort two weeks ago, he will start from 11th place.
With 75 points still on the table the current top seven is still in the race for the title. Paffett is leading with 109 points, followed by Green (93), Spengler (91), Mortara (74), Tomczyk (69), Rockenfeller (67) and Ekstrom is seventh and last title contender with 62 points.