This weekend DTM arrives at the legendary Nurburgring for the eighth and penultimate round of the 2019 season. First, we have a quick look at the latest news and then we see what happened in the two practice sessions.
This time last week we received the news that DTM is going to Autodromo Nazionale di Monza in the 2020 season – an exciting thing to look forward to. Just like the Nurburgring, Monza is a special track as well with a fantastic history. The circuit has hosted the Formula One Grand Prix since the championship started in 1950. After Adria, Mugello and Misano, Monza will be the fourth Italian track in the history of the series. “For motorsport fans all over the world, Monza is legendary.”, Gerhard Berger said. “The characteristics of the circuit promise wheel-to-wheel duels at high speeds as well as good opportunities for overtaking.”
The track, located in the North of Italy, is 5.793 km long and has three long straights. Because of this, the track is known for its high speeds, top-speeds of 295 km/h can be expected. It’ll be challenging for every driver, though most really look forward to it. “It’s gonna be good.”, R-Motorsport driver Jake Dennis said. “Monza is always great and creates good racing. DRS is going to be really effective. I’m super excited.”
Sheldon van der Linde, another rookie this year racing for BMW commented: “I was there last year for the Blancpain Endurance Series. My first time at Monza. It’s a crazy track, just for racing in general – there’s so many overtaking opportunity’s. From a racing point of view, it’s going to produce very good racing. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Later that week, we got more announcements, all regarding the season finale at Hockenheim from 4 to 6 October. As previously announced, SUPER GT has been invited to the event – all three manufacturers join with one car. Honda will be there with ex-Formula One driver Jenson Button – driving the Team Kunimitsu NSX-GT. “During my career as a driver, I’ve always been an avid admirer of so many different forms of top-level motorsport.”, he wrote on his social media. “I’m delighted to say I’ve been given another such opportunity by Honda, GTA and DTM as I will be taking part in the last two rounds of the DTM championship at Hockenheim.”
Unlike Honda, who have Button as their only entry, Nissan and Lexus send two of their drivers to Germany. Each doing one race. Nick Cassidy and Ryo Hirakawa – the champions of 2019 – will drive the TOM’S Lexus LC500. Ronnie Quintarelli and Tsugio Matsuda will pilot the Nismo GT500. Though this won’t be the only joint-race for the two championships. The SUPER GT x DTM Dream Race will be held at Fuji Speedway from 22 to 24 November. It is expected six to ten DTM cars will race at the event and further details about the driver entries will be announced at a later time.
Moving on to the action on track today. It is championship leader Rene Rast who finished the first practice session on top. His best time was a 1:20.438, which in the end proved to be the fastest time of the day. Following him in the next six places are all Audi teammates, with his biggest rival Nico Mueller in third. Rast’s gap to Mike Rockenfeller – who ended in second place – was 0.436 seconds. “The weekend started well with P1 in FP1”, Rast commented. “The long-run pace was okay, but we still have some work there.” As we have seen quite frequently this year, Marco Wittmann was the best-placed BMW driver in eighth. Best placed R-Motorsport driver is Paul di Resta in tenth.
The second practice session in the afternoon started off in a different way. After only a few minutes a red flag was thrown. The door on the driver-side of Ferdinand Habsburg’s car came loose and flew off onto the track. After a quick recovery, the session restarted. Not long after, it was Mike Rockenfeller who crossed the line with a 1:20.524, only 0.086 seconds slower than Rast in the first session. “We had two smooth sessions.” The German Audi driver commented. “We tried a few things, and, although the handling of the car isn’t perfect yet, it’s not bad at all, so let’s see what we can do this weekend. So far, it looks quite promising!”
Overall, Audi once again appears to the team to beat. Although Wittmann improved between the practice sessions, it wasn’t enough to catch the Audis. Tomorrow’s action starts at 10.50 local time (09.50 UK time) and the first race of the weekend at 13.30 local time (12.30 UK time).