Written for and published by Prescott Motorsport.
Images courtesy of DTM Media.
The second night-race in Misano started in the same conditions as yesterday: damp. But where the race was completely dry yesterday, the weather gods had a different scenario planned for this one. The night-weekend turned out to be disastrous for championship leader Gary Paffett, who didn’t manage to score any points at all.
In qualifying it was Loïc Duval who scored his first Pole of the DTM-career in the black Audi RS5. Next to him was 3rd in the championship and local hero Edo Mortara in the Mercedes, followed by Juncadella, Rockenfeller in his RS5 and reigning champion René Rast in 5th. First BMW was Marco Wittmann in 6th place. The Brits Paffett started from 8th , Di Resta 10th and Jamie Green again couldn’t get his Audi RS5 to act like he wanted and had to start from p17. Star of yesterday’s race Robin Frijns qualified his Audi in 15th and BMW-guest star put his M4 19th on the grid. Damp conditions forced all drivers to start on wet tires, although the track showed an almost dry line. All drivers, except for one: 19-year old Joel Eriksson took the gamble and started on slicks.
When the five red lights turned off, Duval couldn’t enjoy his pole position for more than a couple of meters. He took off with way too much wheelspin and Mortara could take the lead. Juncadella, Rast, Wittmann and Rockenfeller managed to pass the Frenchman as well and when the field reached turn 1, Duval was already down to 6th. Heading three-wide towards turn 2, Rast was right in front of Duval, who had Glock on his left and Rockenfeller on his right. In this turmoil it was Timo Glock who tapped René Rast and made him go sideways through turn 2.
Ironically, Duval profited and he was now in 3rd, Glock, who had an amazing start coming from 9th was now 4th, followed by Rast, Müller and Rockenfeller. Di Resta and Frijns were 9th and 10th, but they quickly passed Rockenfeller in the long right turn and when Wittmann pitted immediately in the first lap, they moved up to 7th and 8th. Frijns however, not forgotten that he lost the race from Di Resta yesterday, didn’t plan on waiting too long behind the Scot, and passed the c63 a lap later, again in that long right hand turn at the back (north) of the track. Di Resta tried to counter on the long straight that followed, but Frijns managed to secure his 7th spot for now, even though Di Resta gave him a little tap on side and forced the Dutchman off track (for which he received a warning).
10 minutes into the race and it was Mortara in front, followed by Juncadella at about a second, Duval two seconds behind him and then Glock, Rast, Müller, Frijns, Di Resta and Rockenfeller in a tight group about 4 seconds behind Duval. Paffett in 10th had a one second gap to former champion Rockenfeller in front. Eriksson, who started 12th, had dropped back to 18th on his slicks.
In lap 4, Timo Glock in the bright yellow Deutsche Post liveried M4 was the first of the top 10 to make his stop from 4th position, together with Mike Rockenfeller. Both switched their rain tires for slicks on the now almost dry track. On track, an intense fight developed between Nico Müller and Robin Frijns. While they were battling it out, Di Resta patiently waited for a gap to open and saw his chance two laps later as he managed to pass both Audi’s and retake 5th. At the end of the lap Juncadella from 2nd and Müller came into the pits for slicks. The cars that hadn’t stopped yet were now Mortara, Duval, Rast, Di Resta, Frijns, Zanardi and Eriksson, taking up place 1 to 7 in the race now when we entered lap 7. Eriksson now started to make up ground to those in front, actually being the highest ranked car on slicks while all in front were still on rain tires.
By the end of lap 7 Duval also came in the pits to change tires, together with Paul Di Resta. Duval managed to stay out in front of Juncadella and was thereby virtually 2nd. At that moment the weather gods decided to intervene. Brutally. From one to another moment, rain started to pour down in quantities that are rarely seen. Accept at Silverstone when the Moto GP comes around. One of the first victims was Dani Juncadella who had just switched to slicks and due to the slippery conditions missed the pit entry when it started to rain. All other cars that were now also on slicks had to come into the pits, creating somewhat of a chaos. Eriksson, who was still well out in front of the first drivers that already made a pitstop, barely managed to swim to the pits, but he made it. Mortara, Rast, Frijns and Zanardi, still on their rain tires, had less urge to come in to the pits and stayed out at first. They had already lapped the rest of the field that now had made two stops already. Notably, Duval, in second place of the stopped cars behind Eriksson, was right behind leader Mortara again, though one lap down.
In lap 12, now that everybody changed back to rain tires again, it was Lucas Auer who decided to park his orange Mercedes in the gravel at turn 15. This led to the safety car being called on track to give marshals the opportunity to remove the c63.
The restart came at the beginning of lap 15, with only 28 minutes plus one lap to go. The first four cars, Mortara, Rast, Frijns and Zanardi still had to make their stop. Eriksson in 5th was the only other car that was still in the lead lap some 14 seconds behind Mortara, Duval in 6th was one lap behind the leader. Due to the (very) long pit exit on the Misano track, a stop would take well over 40 seconds. The only thing the leaders could do was to try to create a big as possible gap to Eriksson, as long as their worn out rain tires could carry them.
In lap 18, all hopes of Gary Paffett to score any points this weekend were lost when he was hit by Dani Juncadella in an effort to overtake the BMW of Bruno Spengler. He fell back to p16, far away from a points finish.
With 20 minutes to go, Zanardi was the first of four leaders to make his pitstop. He rejoined (of course) in 5th, but a mere 45 seconds behind Eriksson, who was right behind him when he stopped). Mortara still only had an 18 seconds gap to Eriksson, which was nonetheless growing with one to two seconds per lap.
At the end of lap 22, with little under 14 minutes to go, Rast decided to go get fresh rubber. The Audi driver, at that moment some 5 seconds behind leader Mortara, rejoined 25 seconds behind Eriksson. The gap between Mortara and Eriksson was now also 25 seconds, with meant the Italian had to built his gap another 20 seconds to stay out in front of the Swede, who was in busy traffic.
With only 8 minutes to go, Mortara decided to make his stop in lap 25. The gap to Eriksson was only 14 seconds and right before his stop the Italian gained about 2 to 3 seconds a lap on the BMW-rookie. The question was what he was capable of on new tires.
It proved to be insufficient: Mortara managed to catch up to Eriksson to 1.8 seconds at the finish. And so the young Swede fulfilled his youth dream as we understood from the radio: to win a race in the DTM. Important for the championship standings was that Di Resta finished 6th and with the 10 points that were awarded to him took over the lead with a 186 points over 177 for Paffett. Mortara is now firmly in 3rd with 138 points. There are now only 6 races to go in the championship.
Next races are in two weeks, 8th and 9th of September at the legendary Nürburgring.
Race re-live with English commentary click here.