Spengler wins thrilling rain battle at Norisring
Nuremberg. Now that was nothing for people with weak nerves. In the fifth season round of the DTM at the Norisring, heavy rain determined the drivers’ tactics. Canadian Mercedes-Benz driver Bruno Spengler did it perfectly. The 27-year old defended his first position from start to finish and thus claims back the lead in the battle for the title. “This was the most difficult race of my life. I am very happy with this victory and the lead in the drivers’ standings. There was so much water on the track, even behind the safety car. Driving like that was incredibly difficult”, said Spengler. For Mercedes-Benz, it was already the ninth consecutive victory at Norisring. During the race, British driver Jamie Green had a great battle with Audi driver Mattias Ekström. He came out on top and completed the 1-2 for the Stuttgart-based manufacturer.
Once again, Martin Tomczyk drove a spirited race with his 2008-spec Audi A4 DTM and was able to make his way up from tenth place on the starting grid to a podium finish. The decisive factors were a late first pit stop and another service only two laps later. By finishing third, the Germany still scored six points for the drivers’ standings. Still, Spengler took the lead in the drivers’ standings away from him and, with 39 points, is now three points clear of Tomczyk. “I am always charging, although it was hardly possible in this race because of the heavy rain as we couldn’t see a thing. I tried to drive my race and after my pit stops, I suddenly found myself in third place”, the happy 29-year old said.
Tomczyk’s fellow Audi driver Timo Scheider also was able to make up positions and having started from seventh, he finished fourth. DTM rookie Edoardo Mortara (Audi) scored his best season result to date. The Italian finished fifth and came home one place ahead of Mercedes-Benz driver Ralf Schumacher. Two times’ DTM champion Ekström was in third for a long time, but had problems after his second pit stop and ended up seventh. With his AMG Mercedes C-Class, David Coulthard was classified eighth, scoring his best result this season and one point for the drivers’ standings.
In spite of the changeable weather, 124,000 spectators attended the race weekend at the only street circuit on the DTM calendar. Due to the heavy rain, the clerk of the course decided to start the race behind the safety car. More rain showers in the closing stages of the race triggered another safety car intervention. Once 75 percent of the race distance were completed and thus full points could be awarded for the DTM race, the clerk of the course decided to stop the race behind the safety car. Remarkable: in spite of the difficult conditions, there was only once accident. Mercedes-Benz driver Gary Paffett, who had started from second place, lost control of his car on lap 16 and hit the wall.
Five of ten DTM season rounds having been completed, Spengler is ’half time champion’. Behind runner-up Tomczyk, Scheider is following with 24 points Green with 21 and Schumacher with 17. In a fortnight (July 16th and 17th), the DTM is exploring new territories and presents itself to the fans with a show event at the Olympic stadium in Munich.
Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, head of motorsport Audi: “That was a great race for the spectators. I find it great that the fans have stayed in spite of the rain. We had a very good pit stop strategy, which could have worked perfectly when the race would have ended in the normal way. But the decisions by race control were very good. Martin again has done a good job. Mortara has proven his skills even in these conditions.”
Norbert Haug, head of motorsport Mercedes-Benz: “A great race. The decision to stop the race was totally correct. Not because we were in the lead, but because it was simply too wet. In such a race, there are many possibilities to make a mistake. We have coped with that very well. Bruno and Jamie drove a great race. Nine consecutive race wins at Norisring are remarkable.”
Formula Renault 3.5
Jean-Eric Vergne takes control of the championship!
Apart from pole position for this race, nothing has escaped Jean-Eric Vergne (Carlin) this weekend. The Frenchman went quickest in both collective testing sessions, was on pole position for race one and won both races. Thanks to his perfect weekend he is now leading the championship. Albert Costa (Epic Racing) and Adam Carroll (P1 Motorsport) took advantage of penalties imposed on Sergio Canamasas (BVM Target) and Robert Wickens (Carlin) to complete the podium.
On Sunday, the battle for pole position went right to the wire. Vergne thought he had done the hard part, but was not expecting a challenge from Canamasas. Having felt good all weekend and boosted by his first podium in race one, the Spaniard surprised everyone by recording his first pole position in Formula Renault 3.5 Series.
Vergne had a great start and led into the first corner from Sergio Canamasas, Adam Carroll, Alexander Rossi (Fortec Motorsport) and Brendon Hartley (Charouz-Gravity). Meanwhile, there was mayhem in the midfield. Sten Pentus (Epic Racing) and André Negrão (International Draco Racing) collided, forcing the race director to bring out the safety car. When the pack was released, Vergne retained his lead.
With nobody managing to make a mark in the lead group, Rossi and Wickens decided to pit early. It worked for the Canadian, who was able to get past the American. The leaders waited longer before making their mandatory pitstop. Vergne pitted on lap nine. He retained his lead after the pitstops, with a one-second gap back to Canamasas. Wickens, who was sixth before changing his tyres, had now moved up to third, ahead of Albert Costa, Adam Carroll and Alexander Rossi.
Canamasas tried to pressure Vergne by recording the fastest lap, but the Frenchman was unwaivered. The two men moved clear of Wickens and Costa. Adam Carroll led the second chase group, with Alexander Rossi and Brendon Hartley just behind.
A few drops of rain fell towards the end of the race but did nothing to halt Vergne’s march to victory. The Frenchman was in full control and completed a double in Hungary. Canamasas and Wickens, who were second and third over the finish line, were each handed a ten-second penalty for failing to give way in the pitlane. Those penalties handed second place to Costa and third to Carroll. Sergio Canamasas was relegated to fourth and Wickens dropped down to seventh. All this further helped the cause of Vergne, who will go on his summer holidays leading the championship by four points from Wickens. Let battle recommence at Silverstone on August 20.
Jean-Eric Vergne: “Everything went well during the race, as it did throughout the weekend. I knew I had to take the lead at the start, and that’s what I did. This weekend could be a turning point in the championship. Taking 50 points is just perfect. The next race is at Silverstone. I love the circuit and it’s where I won the British Formula 3 championship last year. I hope we continue as we left off.”