DTM: Farfus beats Paffett to pole for season finale at Hockenheimring
By Berthold Bouman
Brazilian Augusto Farfus (BMW Team RBM) beat DTM championship leader Gary Paffett (Mercedes Team HWA) to pole for the last race of the season at the Hockeheimring. Paffett will leave from second spot on the grid tomorrow, and his main rival Bruno Spengler (BMW Team Schnitzer) from third spot. Jamie Green (Mercedes Team HWA) didn’t make it into the final top-four shoot-out and will start the race from tenth place.
Of course, Farfus was very pleased with his second consecutive pole for BMW, “I have to admit I didn’t expect to be on pole and believed a top five would be good. Then, when I made it to Q4, I realised we could try for pole, and it worked out. Many thanks to the team because we changed the car a little bit during qualifying and it worked well.”
A dry and sunny Hockenheim circuit this afternoon, David Coulthard (Mercedes Team Mucke Motorsport), who will leave the DTM series after this weekend’s race, was the first to be in trouble as his right front wheel hadn’t been secured properly and the ex-Formula One driver was lucky to make it back to the garage.
Green and Paffett were leading with ten minutes remaining in Q1, not much later Spengler came out for his first timed lap, but he was visibly struggling with his car and took third place, however, his second lap was much better and the Canadian took second place at the time.
Rookie Adrian Tambay (Audi Sport Team Abt) again impressed as he scored fourth fastest time, which was his ticket to the second qualifying session. Not so lucky were Ralf Schumacher (Mercedes Team HWA), he missed Q2 by only six-thousandths of a second, also out were Robert Wickens (Mercedes Team Mucke Motorsport), Roberto Merhi (Mercedes Team Persson Motorsport), Miguel Molina (Audi Sport Team Phoenix Racing), Coulthard, and Susie Wolff (Mercedes Team Persson Motorsport), who will also retire from the DTM series.
In the second session Mattias Ekstrom (Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline) was fastest, but the leading trio in the championship, Paffett, Spengler and Green were out quickly as they didn’t want to waste any time trying to get into Q3. Green ran very wide, but made it back on the track but at the same moment crossed the path of Spengler who was on a fast lap, while Edoardo Mortara (Audi Sport Team Rosberg) was seen jumping the kerbs and the Italian’s car was even airborne for a second or two.
Spengler then took first place, while Green was still in 16th and last place, he picked up a new set of tyres and quickly went out again, and with only two minutes on the clock managed to fight his way back to the top and recorded the third-fastest time. Paffett also went out again on a new set of tyres, and took first place from Spengler, and thus the three title contenders made it into Q3.
Filipe Albuquerque (Audi Sport Team Rosberg) didn’t make it into the third qualifying session, neither did Mike Rockenfeller (Audi Sport Team Phoenix Racing), Christian Vietoris (Mercedes Team HWA), Andy Priaulx (BMW Team RBM), Tambay and Rahel Frey (Audi Sport Team Abt).
Ten drivers lined up for the last session, all hoping to make it into the final top-four shoot-out for pole. But this time it was a waiting game, Paffett, Spengler and Green stayed in the garage until there were just four minutes left and they in fact only had two laps to qualify for the shoot-out.
A perfect lap for Spengler, as he took second place, behind him was Paffett as the Briton took third place, while Green was tenth and last. Another fast lap for Spengler, but he was not able to improve his time and stayed in second position. Green had one last chance, but he simply wasn’t fast enough, his car was sliding from left to right as he couldn’t find enough grip, and he finished Q3 in tenth place.
Also out were Joey Hand (BMW Team RMG), Martin Tomczyk (BMW Team RMG), Dirk Werner (BMW Team Schnitzer), Timo Scheider (Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline) and Edoardo Mortara (Audi Sport Team Rosberg).
Final top-four shoot-out
Ekstrom was the first driver to set a time in the final shoot-out, the Swede made no mistakes and was again fast and lapped the circuit in 1m34.627s. Next was Paffett, he was 0.100 seconds faster in the first section, 0.284s in the second section, made a tiny mistake when he entered the Motodrome, but was nevertheless 0.366 seconds faster than Ekstrom.
It was then Spengler’s turn, he was 0.002s faster in the first section, but lost 0.064s in the second section, and finished 0.007s behind Paffett. Brazilian Farfus was next, and he surprised friend and foe by taking the fastest time, in the end he was 0.121s faster than Paffett.
Paffett said, “Pole position was my goal, but still, I’m on the front row of the grid and so feel very relaxed about the last race of the season tomorrow. I’m looking forward to an exciting and fair season finale. I’ve already won four races at Hockenheim and secured seven podium finishes, so I’m extremely optimistic about this last race of the season.”
Spengler commented, “I am very happy with my third place. We had a few minor problems in practice this morning, but quickly managed to get on top of them. BMW Team Schnitzer did a great job. We can now look forward to a real showdown in the final race. It cannot get any better for the fans!”
For Green it will be an almost impossible task to grab the title, he must win the race, and his rival Paffett should not score more than six points, while Spengler should not score more than nine points.
“Tenth place is not brilliant in terms of my championship chances, but unfortunately, I was just not quick enough. But I’m still in with a chance – even in the title fight – starting from tenth place in tomorrow’s race. If I can make it safely through the first turn, then I can achieve a decent result, even from P10,” Green stated.