Nancy Knapp Schilke
On the two mirrored 0.614 km parallel-tracks in Munich’s Olympiastadion, the DTM drivers took on a unique challenge of relay races to determine the top manufacturers’ and their teams as they were contesting for each team to end Saturday with the right to brag. It was quite a show in the stadium with teams from BMW, Audi and Mercedes pushing the limits. HWA Mercedes AMG C-Coupé’s Ralf Schumacher and Jamie Green claimed the winning team their non-points title this evening.
“This was a perfect day for me. I could get used to this," smiled Schumacher. “The starts went particularly well for me today and the race at the stadium was a lot of fun. The organisers have done an excellent job with the new circuit layout. It is clearly an improvement on last year – the grip level is very good and I think the new relay competition is a great idea.”
Said Green, “It was really fun today. After my first victory of the season in the last points-scoring event at the Norisring in Nuremberg, my win in the relay competition here in Munich's Olympic Stadium is the perfect follow-up. Ralf and I made a good Mercedes AMG team – I hope we can continue in the same way tomorrow in the individual timed competition.”
It was not an easy feat for the two racers and the finale was a classic showdown between the two Mercedes teammates and their ABT Sportsline Audi counterparts. Timo Scheider and Adrien Tambay barley missed taking tonight’s victory by 0.254 seconds.
In his first event of this kind, rookie Tambay said, “The team competition was a very special thing; it was great fun. I was fighting for the lead on each lap, it was always very close. On the last lap I gave everything. I really enjoyed this."
Added Scheider, "Despite the fact that this is a show event it was a heartbeat final. It’s nice that Adrian and I made it into the final. This morning, we couldn’t even imagine that. But the guys did a superb job and improved a few nuances on the car. The final was much closer than we’d expected. We can be pleased with this day."
The showdown for third was between Gary Paffett and Christian Vietoris for the HWA Mercedes team and BMW’s Dirk Werner and Joey Hand in their Team Schnitzer M3. It was another close battle with the Mercedes teammates on the final podium step by 0.721 seconds.
“Driving in the stadium is a special feeling. On the short track, you have to be extremely concentrated”,” Vietoris said.
For BMW, their drivers hope to have more success on Sunday evening in front of their home-based fans. “Fourth place is not bad, but I am still a bit disappointed. It was apparent we always lost time to our opponents in the first few laps. We will have to look into why that was before the individual races. In general, however, it was great fun racing here. The event in the Olympic Stadium must certainly be a fantastic experience for the fans. They rarely get this close to the drivers and cars,” said Germany’s Werner.
Hand commented: “I am a bit disappointed that we only finished fourth here. BMW Team RMG and I were here to win. I did my best and really pushed hard. Unfortunately it was not good enough to make it onto the podium. Racing in the Olympic Stadium in front of so many fans and BMW employees is a huge motivation. I promise I will be going flat out again in tomorrow’s individual races. That is why I became a racing driver: I want to win.”
The special unique event does not count in championship points but the DTM drivers will not ease up on the narrow track layout as the overall win is the name of the game no matter what. What it took today was precision, and not the needed speed in each of the heats.
The defending DTM champion did not make it into the final rounds for the podium slots in his new ride for BMW but Martin hopes to place his #1 BMW Team RMG on top tomorrow. “It is a shame I went out in the first round. As a racing driver, you always want to win. I just could not find enough grip, so I spent more time drifting than driving. I will now turn my attention to the individual races on Sunday.”