This Sunday, DTM will celebrate its 500th race in the history of the series. In today’s feature, we’ll share a few facts about this special occasion and look at what happened in the two practice sessions of today.
The series was first founded in 1984 under the name ‘Deutsche Produktionswagen-Meisterschaft’. On March 11th of that year, the first race was held at Circuit Zolder, in Belgium. The race was won by Harald Grohs, in a BMW 635 CSi. Volker Strycek, a German racer, was crowned as the series’ first champion.
At the beginning of 2019, turbochargers made a return to DTM again after a long break. Klaus Ludwig was the last driver to have won a championship title with a turbo engine, back in 1988 with a Ford Sierra. Ludwig started 219 races, the second-most in the history of the series. As he has driven lots of generations of cars, DTM.com asked him what car he liked the most: ‘In all honesty, I liked the high-tech cars in 1995 and 1996 best. Every day, we had a new idea and we were able to turn them into reality. A crazy time!’
The title of Ludwig’s biggest rival goes to Mr. DTM, Bernd Schneider. In his career, he secured five titles for Mercedes (1995, 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2006) and 43 race wins. He is also the driver who has driven most races – 236. An impressive achievement. ‘I am really proud of having contributed to part of the DTM’s history, especially now, a little bit further down the line.’, he tells DTM.com. ‘It has already been eleven years in which I am no longer involved. I am surprised myself how strong I was committed to the DTM and how much I have achieved.’
When asked who his fiercest rival was, he answers: ‘I have always had pretty good teammates, those are the ones you can best compare yourself with as they have the same machinery. For me, Klaus Ludwig was the man to beat in the ‘old’ DTM. He was clearly the number one in touring car racing and in sports cars as well, so he was the undisputed benchmark for me.’
DTM has had 22 different drivers who have managed to win the title. The youngest ever champion is Pascal Wehrlein, at just 20 years of age. On the other hand, the oldest champion is Klaus Ludwig – 45 years old. The record for most ever pole positions belongs to Mr DTM as well – 25 times. Following him are Mattias Ekstrom (20 times) and Bruno Spengler (18 times). In total, there have been 18 different manufacturers fighting in the championship, including Alfa Romeo, Opel, Volvo, Ford, Mazda, Nissan, Toyota and more.
There has also been a few Formula One stars in the series, such as Keke Rosberg, David Coulthard, Ralf Schumacher, Jean Alesi and not to forget Mika Häkkinen. In total, DTM raced at 38 different race tracks! Hockenheim has hosted the most races, clocking in at 93.
Last but not least, there are a few women who fought against all these men, though Ellen Lohr is the only one though to ever succeed in winning a race. Others to have featured on the DTM grid are Lella Lombardi, Rahel Frey, Susie Stoddart/Wolff, Vanina Ickx, and Katherine Legge.
But what about today? At the Lausitzring, it was Audi Sport’s Loic Duval who ended the first session on top. His best time, a 1m35.985s, is the fastest time of the day as well. Second-placed Marco Wittmann sits just 0.232s behind Duval. After the sessions, Wittmann said: ‘It was a good start to the weekend, but in the DTM, you shouldn’t overestimate practice sessions’. An Audi quartet followed, with Jamie Green in third ahead of Robin Frijns, Rene Rast and Pietro Fittipaldi.
Similar to previous race weekends, Audi seems to be the team to beat. In the second session, the Ingolstadt-based manufacturer secured the first six positions, this time with Jamie Green on top. Duval shows promising pace, as he finished second, only four thousands of a second behind Green. In a repeat of the morning’s session, Marco Wittmann is the best-placed BMW in seventh, joined by Timo Glock. Bruno Spengler, who celebrated his birthday today, ended in tenth.
Once again, it was a difficult day for the R-Motorsport Aston Martin drivers, as they finished in 15th to 18th place. But no need to write them off yet, last time out at Brands Hatch, they showed promising pace.
Tomorrow we have a qualifying at 10.35 local time (09.35 UK time) and the race at 13.30 local time (12.30 UK time).