Nancy Knapp Schilke, DTM Correspondent
The heat in Nuremberg, Germany is blistering but the DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) drivers kept their cool for today’s qualifying. Coming off his victory at his homeland race, British driver Gary Paffett earned the pole on the at Norisring circuit with a flying lap of 49.139 seconds in his THOMAS SABO Mercedes AMG C-Coupe.
Paffett, who leads the points, commented: “Pole position for me, the 111th for Mercedes-Benz in the DTM and Jamie starting from P2 – you don’t get many better days than this. At the same time, though, I have to admit that it was very tight out there. I only just made it through to Q4, but my lap wasn’t perfect and every thousandth counts at this track. I’ve finished on the podium in all four races so far this year, and I’d love to continue that run with a third win of the season tomorrow.”
I think I’m all set up for another good result in tomorrow’s race.
Placing his Mercedes on the front row for Sunday’s standing start was another Briton. Jamie Green’s best lap was 49.171s. He was followed by BMW Team RBM’s Augusto Farfus with his hot lap of 49.255s. The final competitor in the final four qualifying was Mattias Ekstrom with a 49.369s in his Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline A5.
Said Green, “The Norisring just seems to suit me and our DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé has been running really well. The 111th all-time DTM pole for Mercedes-Benz shows that. I performed strongly in all the qualifying sessions, and the front row is an excellent platform for the race. I think I’m all set up for another good result in tomorrow’s race.”
At the start of the first qualifying segment, the air temperature was 33.5C (92.3F) and the track surface was close to 49C (120F) and as the heat increased, so did the hot laps. The slowest times on the top of the timesheet were actually faster in the first three qualifying segments.
Paffett waited his turn to lay down a flying lap to top the speed charts, and with less than six minutes before the chequered flag, he notched a 48.769. Joining the Briton in the second qualifying segment were Green, Ekstrom, Martin Tomczyk (BMW), Ralf Schumacher (Mercedes), Bruno Spengler (BMW), Farfus, Christian Vietoris (Mercedes), Dirk Werner (BMW), Mike Rockenfeller (Audi), David Coulthard (Mercedes) , Joey Hand (BMW), Adrien Tambay( Audi), Felipe Albuquerque (Audi) , Andy Priaulx (BMW), and Edoardo Mortara (Audi).
And then there were ten with Ekstrom setting the fastest time midway through the second qualifying segment with a hot lap of 48.822s. Again Green was second best followed by Farfus, Paffett, Tomczyk, Spengler, Priaulx, Vietoris, Schumacher, and Mortara. It appeared that either an Audi or a Mercedes driver would grab the pole before the third session even began.
Paffett was the first to head out onto the now blistering hot track, but it was Schumacher who first set the mark to beat. Paffett replied to the challenge, and Ekstrom powered to the top of the timesheet with a 48.861s that his rivals either could not reply to or elected to just ensure a top four lap time to be in the final shootout for pole position.
"The second row is okay - but that’s all. I must admit that I’m a bit disappointed because my intention was to battle for pole. Our car was good for that but in all fairness I’ve got to say that the competition was quicker at the crucial moment. Congratulations on that. But points are only awarded in the race. The large crowd of Audi fans at the track deserves the full commitment of our squad. Nothing’s lost yet but of course everything’s a lot more difficult from position four than from pole,” said Ekstrom.
While the HWA teammates sit one-two, they will hope to take the top two into the first turn, but Farfus and Ekstrom will not make it easy for them when the lights go out. Nor will the rest of the competitors on the 2,300 km (1.4 mi) Norisring street circuit.
The short track offers many challenges starting with the opening turn left-hand sweeper. Add in a chicane before the back straight where the cars actually come very close to touching the outside wall. From there they small kink before the now famous Dutzendteichkehre (a left hand U-turn), and then they breathe a sigh of relief as they on back on the main straight. They will need to tour this unique circuit 83 laps before they see the checkered flag in Sunday’s race.
After placing third on the grid, Farfus commented: “It’s my first time driving the Castrol EDGE BMW M3 DTM on a street circuit, so this third place feels more like pole position. We were always running at the front, bud didn’t quite have the pace of the Mercedes guys, so third was the best we could really hope for. Even though I had a lock up in turn one it didn’t compromise my lap. I am happy and taking everything as a learning process. It always feels great to be challenging for a top position in the DTM – especially on such a unique circuit.”