DTM: Spengler gives BMW third victory of the season at Oschersleben
By Berthold Bouman
A magnificent drive from Bruno Spengler (BMW Team Schnitzer) at Oschersleben this afternoon, the flying Canadian again came closer to his championship rival Gary Paffett (Mercedes Team HWA) by finishing ahead of the Briton, after an exiting race with the usual first corner incidents.
After his win Spengler said, “Today is a great day for BMW. We produced a fantastic team result. I have often been on the podium in Oschersleben, and now I have finally managed to win here. It was really close again at the end. Gary Paffett was getting closer and closer and really put me under pressure. However, my car was fantastic. I could not afford to make any mistakes – and thankfully I didn’t.
Problems for Adrien Tambay (Audi Sport Team Abt) before the start, his car was pushed from the grid back to the garage as he had an alternator problem and the Frenchman had to start the race from the pit lane. Thus 21 cars on the tarmac when the lights turned to green for the eighth round of the Deutschen Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) at a dry and sunny Motorsport Arena Oschersleben.
Pole-sitter Spengler was the first to enter the first corner, while behind him Paffett and Jamie Green (Mercedes Team HWA) diced for second place, a battle won by Paffett. A very bad start for Mattias Ekstrom (Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline), as the Swede couldn’t get away and almost stalled the engine and when he finally found some speed got caught in the first-corner melee and was then 21st and last.
Both David Coulthard (Mercedes Team Mucke Motorsport) and Miguel Molina (Audi Sport Team Phoenix Racing) had damage after the first-corner incident and had to return to the pits for a quick repair. Ralf Schumacher (Mercedes Team HWA) was also involved and lost a lot of places after he was pushed around in the first corner, he could continue the race but fell back to 19th place. Coulthard meanwhile, encountered more problems with his damaged yellow Mercedes and had to retire.
Edoardo Mortara (Audi Sport Team Rosberg) also reported he had problems, while Spengler, Paffett and Green were still leading the race. Mortara cruised to the pits and parked his car in the garage with heavily damaged front-bodywork.
Green started to lose ground to second-place man Paffett, while the latter still had leader Spengler in his sights. More retirements, Mortara also had too much damage and parked his car in the Audi garage while Rahel Frey (Audi Sport Team Abt) and Susie Wolff (Mercedes Team Persson Motorsport) had to retire as well.
Martin Tomczyk (BMW Team RMG) and Timo Scheider (Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline) were fighting for ninth place, a battle won by 2011 DTM Champion Tomczyk, who sneaked past Scheider at the first corner. Christian Vietoris (Mercedes Team HWA) tried to do the same but lost control and spun, losing several places as well in the process.
After 14 laps it was time for the first round of pit stops, Spengler and Green were the first to change tyres and rejoined the race in sixth and eighth position respectively. Two laps later Paffett came in, and after a quick flawless tyre change rejoined in sixth place, but he was still behind Spengler who had moved up to fourth place thanks to a little help of Ekstrom, who let the Canadian past without a fight.
After all had made their first stop, Spengler was again leading, followed by Paffett, Vietoris, who was on a different pit stop schedule, Green, Dirk Werner (BMW Team Schnitzer) and Augusto Farfus (BMW Team RBM) was sixth. Tomczyk encountered cooling problems and parked his car in the BMW garage, again a race without points for the 2011 DTM Champion.
After 26 laps it was time for the second round of pit stops, Spengler was still comfortably leading as he had 3.5 seconds on Paffett, while Green was 13 seconds behind the leader, and thus it was very unlikely the pit stops would change the order. Spengler was the first to make his stop, he rejoined in fifth place right behind Ekstrom, who again let him past without any problems.
Next was Paffett, no problems for the Briton and he rejoined in fifth place, behind Spengler and Ekstrom. Paffett drove right at the limit to keep up with Spengler, but he still had to pass Ekstrom, who soon made his last stop, and after Farfus, who was temporarily leading, also had made his last stop, the order was again the same as at the start of the race: Spengler was leading, followed by Paffett, Green and Werner.
Behind the top four Farfus and Rockenfeller were dicing for fifth place, while Wickens and Albuquerque were dicing for seventh place, and behind those two, Ekstrom and Scheider were battling it out for ninth place.
But after his disastrous start Ekstrom was fast on track and was soon challenging Albuquerque for eight place, he sneaked past him and was then on his way to Wickens on seventh place. Paffett had found more speed after his last stop and he was gaining on leader Spengler with ten laps still to go.
Only two seconds separated the pair, just one small mistake and Spengler would lose the lead. Spengler was also driving at the limit, and with three laps to go, the difference was 1.2 seconds, and the Canadian had to be very careful not to be forced into a mistake by an ever-charging Paffett.
But Spengler didn’t make any mistakes, he crossed the finish line in first position, Paffett was second and Green third. Werner was fourth, Farfus fifth and Rockenfeller sixth.
Paffett, who scored his 30th DTM podium in his 90th DTM race commented, “My C-Coupé was, as expected, very fast in the race today and we had a shot at victory. Bruno Spengler, however, also drove well and with no mistakes. I would, of course, like to have won in Oschersleben, nevertheless I have defended my lead in the championship with second place.”
Green also had something to celebrate, “This is my 20th podium in the DTM and I am very proud of that fact. The race was not easy for me. My pace was not quite good enough to scrap with front-runners Bruno Spengler and Gary for the win. But during the race, my car’s speed kept coming and I achieved my third podium finish of the season.”
Paffett is still leading the DTM Championship with 127 points, Spengler has moved up to second place with 116 points, while Green is now third with 108 points. Next race is on September 30, at the Spanish Valencia circuit.