142,000 fans just couldn’t wait for the latest sequel of ’Three’s Company’ and made for a new attendance record, at the season opener in Hockenheim. And with a one-two of the British Mercedes-Benz aces Gary Paffett and Jamie Green, followed by Sweden’s Audi driver Mattias Ekström, the season began exactly as it had been expected by the majority of the pundits.
At the Lausitzring, however, the DTM enthusiasts and the pundits realised that the 2012 season possibly could turn out to be a very special one. As early as in the second race of the season, BMW was able to match the pace of their opponents. On the day after having given the DTM returnee from Munich their first pole position, Franco-Canadian Bruno Spengler made for a true sensation by also winning the race. And in addition, the new technical regulations also proved to be a success: In the qualifying session, the gap between the pole-sitter and the third-fastest driver amounted to just 0.043 seconds.
Round three at Brands Hatch was won by local hero Gary Paffett and in the fourth race, held at Austria’s Red Bull Ring, Audi was back on the highest step on the podium, with Italian Edoardo Mortara celebrating his maiden DTM win, at the wheel of the Audi A5 DTM. Paffett extended his championship lead by finishing third behind Martin Tomczyk (BMW).
Next stop Nuremberg: in the closing stages of round five, at the Norisring, Jamie Green wowed the crowds with a fantastic and successful chase to celebrate his first win of the season. With just three more laps to go, the 30-year old was only third but then, he passed Spengler for second position and in the final corner of the race, he stole the lead from 2011 DTM Champion Martin Tomczyk. For Green, it was the fourth Norisring win in the past five years.
With his third win, secured in round eight in Oschersleben, Spengler definitely underlined his title ambitions. Once again he finished ahead of Paffett. The next stop on the calendar was Valencia - the final abroad race of the 2012 DTM season and the only race venue of the year Paffett had to leave empty-handed. Green scored just one point by finishing 10th while Spengler - who had hat to settle for having secured the poor 12th position on the grid - made the best of it by finishing sixth and reducing the gap to Paffett to just three points while his fellow BMW driver Augusto Farfus celebrated the first DTM win of a Brazilian in the history of the sport.
For the final showdown, the DTM fraternity travelled to the circuit that also staged the first round of the new era: the Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg. Gary Paffett displayed a lot of fighting spirit and finished second in the qualifying session, right ahead of his title rival Bruno Spengler. But the BMW driver made the better start, passed Paffett right away and a little later, he also overtook Farfus, pole-sitter for the second consecutive time. Afterwards, however, Paffett drove a spectacular race, with his DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé, and pressurised Spengler to the max. But the Canadian and his BMW M3 DTM kept Paffett at bay throughout the race and at the end of the 42-lap race, Spengler crossed the finish line - accompanied by spectacular fireworks - as race winner and new DTM Champion.
In the end, a 2.2-second proved to be crucial in the battle for the DTM title, with Spengler getting the upper hand and winning the title with a four-point lead over Paffett. Altogether, 20 of the 22 drivers on the grid succeeded in scoring points, in this memorable season.