Nancy Knapp Schilke, Editor in Chief
BMW pockets first victory in their return to DTM
It has been 20 years since the German manufacturer took on the challenge in the German Touringcar Masters (DTM) championship series, and in only the second round of the 2012 season, Bruno Spengler took the first win since 1992 for BMW. Second belonged to Mercedes driver Gary Paffett with Augusto Farfus in another BMW M3 taking the final podium step.
“Today is a dream come true for me. I am so happy I just want to give everyone at BMW Team Schnitzer a big hug. This is one of the best days of my life,” smiled Spengler. “The race was unbelievable. We had a really tough battle with the Mercedes drivers, and did everything in our power to stay in front of them. Thankfully it worked.”
One thing is certain: it is time for a celebration
Starting on the pole in his Team Schnitzer M3, the Canadian had to fend off pressure in the closing laps from Paffett. The Eurospeedway Lausitzring has always had close battles, but the start by Paffett was remarkable as he flew when the lights went out from third on the grid and attached his Mercedes nose to the tail of the BMW of Spengler. From that point on, the duo sailed away from their rivals.
By building a gap, Schnitzer’s Spengler was able to make both mandatory stops in the pits without losing the lead. The HWA Mercedes team had remarkable pit stops, but Paffett was not able to take the advantage, and when he went too wide in Turn 1 on the final lap, the Briton ended losing the victory by 01.019 seconds.
However, Paffett leaves Klettwitz, Germany, with the points lead. On his loss today: “It's such a pity. My THOMAS SABO Mercedes AMG C-Coupé had enough speed to win again today. I was just a bit too far behind at the pit-stop. Having said that, my car was really quick and had a brilliant set-up, a tribute to the team. I was also so close to Bruno Spengler's car that I was losing a bit of down force.”
Added Paffett, “However, I did give it my all and being second on the podium within the space of a week is a great result for us, especially after the win in the opening race.”
Spengler now has 10 wins in the German-based series, and is third in the standings. “The final lap was the longest of my career. My team and I did not put a foot wrong today. That was definitely the crucial factor. One thing is certain: it is time for a celebration,” Spengler commented.
The second part of the show in Germany today was between Farfus in his Team RBM’s BMW and Paffett’s teammate Jamie Green. While Farfus tried to stay up with the leaders, he was keeping the other competitors behind him – mainly Team Rosberg’s Edoardo Mortara and Mike Rockenfeller for Phoenix Racing. The two Audi drivers tried to keep Green at bay but that did not last long and powered his Mercedes around both Audis to take fourth on lap eight.
“Congratulations to BMW for doing a great job and giving us this car. This is only my second DTM race and we are a very young team in the series. That makes it all the more amazing to finish on the podium at the second race. I feel really great. I am very happy to be able to bring the car to the finish without any mistakes even though I had Jamie Green pushing me for a lot of laps. But I just made sure I stayed calm and made no mistakes. Thanks also to BMW Team RBM for two fantastic pit stops,” Farfus said.
Green lost the final podium step to the Brazilian by six-tenths of a second; but he holds second in the standings, 13 points behind his Mercedes teammate.
Green commented, “My Mercedes-AMG C-Coupé was just terrific today. Augusto Farfus drove a fantastic race. I was behind him most of the time, but despite the great pace of my car, I couldn’t get past. Now the focus of my attention has to be on my home race at Brands Hatch where I’m hoping to get back on the podium again.“
Swedish driver Mattias Ekstrom was the highest place Audi in fifth and his ABT Sportsline German teammate Timo Scheider was sixth in his A5.
Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): “It was a very tough race. Unfortunately, we didn’t find the overall performance we’d been hoping for. In the case of Timo and Mattias, we tried something between warm-up and the race – I think that was a step in the right direction. But we’ve got to use the two weeks between now and the next race at Brands Hatch to be in contention for victory there again.”