Mike Rockenfeller wins successful DTM premiere in Russia –
Moscow. A great debut for the DTM in Russia. The first event of the most popular international touring car series attracted 45,000 fans to Moscow Raceway over the weekend. On Sunday, spectators cheered for a dominant victory by German driver Mike Rockenfeller with his Audi RS 5 DTM. After 74 laps, the Audi driver, who had started from pole position, crossed the finish line with a margin of 1.3 seconds from his fellow Audi driver Mattias Ekström, who finished second, and thus secured the historic maiden DTM race win in Russia. Augusto Farfus also stepped on the podium for finishing third with his BMW M3 DTM. Driving a DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé, Gary Paffett was classified fifth behind Audi driver Adrien Tambay.
With his second victory of the season, Rockenfeller extended his championship lead from defending champion Bruno Spengler (BMW), who remained without points for the first time this year after his 19th place finish. Now, 29-year old Rockenfeller has 94 points, 27 more than Spengler (67). Gary Paffett (57) is third. “When you want to become champion, you have to score many points. That is what we did today. At Norisring, I was too slow, but today, everything was spot-on. A weekend couldn’t be better. First pole, then the race win,” ’Rocky’ said about the third victory of his DTM career.
For many laps, Rockenfeller and Ekström were involved in a duel for the lead. However, Rockenfeller didn’t make any mistakes and eventually came out on top. Moreover, he had lapped his main rival Spengler twice during the race. In the closing stages, third-placed Farfus defenfed his position from a charging Tambay. “My third place isn’t bad at all. We have had some difficult weekends, but here in Russia, things went well,” was the Brazilian’s verdict about the premiere in the outskirts of Moscow.
Fifth-placed Paffett wasn’t unhappy with his result. “We had to make the best of our seventh place on the starting grid and we have succeeded. The duel with Jamie Green was clean and fair. For the first event in Russia, this was really good. Everyone involved has done a fantastic job. The grandstands were full and the track was great,” Paffett said.
Audi’s new signing Jamie Green scored points by finishing sixth, just like Joey Hand and Dirk Werner (both BMW), Timo Scheider (Audi) and Christian Vietoris (Mercedes-Benz) in seventh to tenth place.
Defending champion Spengler had a rather unfortunate race. “Miguel Molina ran into my car at the beginning and thus, my chances in the race were gone. I have tried everything, but the car was too much damaged. Sometimes, races end in a different way than one had expected,” the Canadian said.
The seventh season round will take place on the Nürburgring, August 18th.
Dieter Gass, head of DTM, Audi: “For Audi, the DTM premiere in Russia couldn’t have been any better. First and second place, five of our cars in the race and now a clear points’ lead for Mike Rockenfeller, who, just like Mattias Ekström, has driven an absolutely perfect race, although the two got caught up in traffic time and time again. The race was held in front of a great crowd and the Audi RS 5 DTM clearly was the strongest car here at Moscow Raceway.”
Jens Marquardt, BMW Motorsport Director: “This first race here was a great success with a great echo from the spectators. I am very happy for Augusto and with Joey and Dirk, we had two more drivers in the top ten. Of course, Bruno had a tough time. I hope that this doesn’t affect his chances in the championship too much. We really have to push hard at the Nürburgring.”
Wolfgang Schattling, head of DTM Management Mercedes-Benz: “Today certainly wasn’t our day. It already showed in qualifying that we didn’t do as well as our competitors at this track. However, Gary has shown a great performance and achieved the best possible result for us.”