In the penultimate round of the season at the dune circuit on the North Sea coast, second place for the 29-year old Mike Rockenfeller was enough.
Zandvoort. Mike Rockenfeller is the 2013 DTM champion. Second place at Zandvoort in The Netherlands was enough for the Audi driver to win an early drivers’ title in the most popular international touring car series for the first time in his career. Although his only remaining rival, Augusto Farfus (BMW) won the race at the dune circuit, the Brazilian was beaten in the battle for the title.
“I can hardly believe it. This is an incredibly heavy load coming off my shoulders. In such a moment, it is all coming back again: the early years in the DTM, how difficult it was and how hard I worked. Many thanks to all those who have made this happen,” said Rockenfeller, who is leading in the drivers’ standings prior to the season finale at Hockenheim (October 18 till 20) with 142 points and has an unbeatable margin of 26 points. This year, Rockenfeller’s consistency was the key to success: with his Audi RS 5 DTM, the 29-year old scored points in every race and won at Brands Hatch (GB) and the DTM premier at Moscow Raceway (RUS).
Farfus, who overtook fellow BMW driver Marco Wittmann in the opening stages of the race, scored his third win of the season. “I did my utmost and that was my goal. Hats off to Mike, he has done a great job. He has deserved the title,” Farfus said. At the start of the race, the 30-year old was attacked by Rockenfeller, but eventually clearly had the edge with his BMW M3 DTM and thus secured second place in the drivers’ standings early.
Swede Mattias Ekström (Audi) scored an impressive recovery. The two times’ DTM champion had started eleventh and finished fourth. Marco Wittmann (BMW), who had claimed his maiden pole position in the most popular international touring car series on the day before, finished fifth.
Gary Paffett, runner-up after the 2012 season, moved up into the point-scoring positions from twelfth on the grid and congratulated the new champion afterwards. “Congratulations to Mike, he has had a tremendous season. For me, it was rather disappointing, although our performance wasn’t bad,” the Brit commented.
The race at the dune circuit of Zandvoort was interrupted by a safety car phase after Dirk Werner (BMW) and Jamie Green (Audi) had collided on lap 38. The restart followed in the final lap of the race, allowing Rockenfeller to cross the finish line at racing speed.
Dieter Gass, head of DTM, Audi: “Congratulations to Mike, the Audi Sport Team Phoenix and the entire Audi team! Mike has wrapped up the drivers’ title early. Now, we are also on top in the manufacturers’ and teams’ standings. One really can’t hope for more. Mike is a worthy champion who didn’t make any mistakes under pressures today either. Timo Scheider covered his back and deserved his maiden podium finish of the season. Mattias Ekström’s recovery was sensational, too. Tonight, there are so many reasons to celebrate, and we will definitely do so.”
Jens Marquardt, BMW Motorsport director: “Congratulations to Audi and to Mike Rockenfeller. Personally, I am proud of Augusto, because he has done what he could. He has dominated today’s race, he couldn’t have done any more. In his second season, he is doing well and he is already so strong. There will be many championship titles coming our way and we count on Augusto. There are two titles still to be won, and that is what we will be aiming at in Hockenheim.”
Wolfgang Schattling, head of DTM management, Mercedes-Benz: “Congratulations to the entire Audi team and to BMW for winning this race. Unfortunately, for us, it was a weekend to forghet. Too bad, because we didn’t have a chance to interfere in the battle for the championship. Now, the focus is on the finale, where we want to bow out from this season with good results.”