This weekend we’re at the Norisring street circuit for the seventh and eight race of the season. Mike Rockenfeller and Loic Duval topped the two practice sessions.
DTM visits the Monaco of Germany, the Norisring track this weekend, a fairly short track clocking in at just 2.3 kilometres. But what makes this race so special? It is a street track, which is an exciting thing itself as it almost guarantees entertainment. Plus, the circuit is historic and a high-speed challenge with no room for errors. This season brings in the new turbo engines with 610 horsepower, so lap records will be broken.
Audi and BMW see this as their home race, as it is closest to their factories. Marco Wittmann shares in this sentiment too. He’s very much looking forward to the races and hopes for another victory: “Of course it would be a dream to win my home race again. That said, 2018 will be difficult to beat because it was so emotional for me.” He further adds: “BMW has a good car, as we’ve shown in the opening rounds; and, if the weather is good, I hope that we can build upon our good results. This year’s cars are significantly faster than last year’s thanks to the new turbo engines, so it will be new territory for everyone as we tune the cars to this particular course. There will be no lack of spectacle and excitement.”
Audi driver Jamie Green is the most successful driver in the pack at the Norisring having won four races here – three consecutive times in 2008-2010, and one more in 2012. All these victories were won during his time at Mercedes earning him the nickname Mr. Norisring. Green makes his return after he had to miss both rounds in Misano due to acute appendicitis.
The closest ever finish at this circuit? A minimal 0.027s difference between third, fourth and fifth in the 2017 Sunday race. Edoardo Mortara (driving for Mercedes), Mattias Ekstrom (Audi) and Marco Wittmann (BMW) were battling for third. Mortara secured the final step of the podium by only 0.002s! Another bizarre moment in the 2017 race: the crash between Gary Paffet and Mike Rockenfeller. On the high-speed run towards the first hairpin, Paffet lost control of his car and then crashed into Rockenfeller. Rocky ‘only’ broke his foot – a miracle both of them didn’t suffer any more serious injuries.
Now, let’s see what happened in FP1 and FP2 today.
You could say it was a successful day for Audi Sport Team Phoenix. Mike Rockenfeller ended FP1 on top, having set the fastest time of the day – a 46.527s. His teammate Loic Duval was fastest in the second practice session. In both sessions, they locked out the first two positions – only switching places. “The car was good. We tried two different settings and now we have to decide what is the best one. Overall the car reacted very well.”, is what Rockenfeller said after FP1. He continued: “It is a really tough track as we all know, but I am quite happy so far.”
Looking at the track layout, you’d be forgiven for thinking it is an easy circuit. But you’d be wrong, street tracks are rarely easy. Though on this track, finding the balance between the high-speed straights and braking at the right points is most important. The track is also proving to be very bumpy as many drivers have said over the radio during both sessions.
Audi still seems to have a little advantage over the other two manufacturers. Having six cars in the top ten in FP1 and five in FP2. In the second practice session, BMW made up some places with Bruno Spengler finishing in third and Philipp Eng in fourth. There are three more BMW’s in the final three positions of the top ten. Misano race winner Nico Mueller finished the sessions in fourth and fifth.
More bad luck for Aston Martin. Daniel Juncadella was quickest of their four drivers in both sessions with Paul di Resta finishing in 11th and 16th place in the two sessions. Ferdinand Habsburg was 14th in the first practice session but failed to set a time in the second session. Though it was Jake Dennis who suffered the most. Having only been able to drive a few laps in the first session, he has to jump straight into qualifying tomorrow. He remains positive though, tweeting: “Only a few laps today. An issue meant I couldn’t drive in FP1 or FP2. Not an ideal start to the weekend. Heading straight into qualifying round on a street circuit is never easy! However, we’ll give it everything like always.”
Qualifying One kicks off at 10.25 local time tomorrow (09.25 UK time) with race one at 13.33 local time (12.33 UK time).