Keeping things traditional, the DTM has arrived at the Hockenheimring for the final round of the 2019 season. The DTM drivers are joined by three SUPER GT cars, including ex-F1 champion Jenson Button.
After the end of the DTM season, the fun doesn’t stop as on the 23-24 November, the SUPER GT x DTM Dream Race takes place. Some drivers have already been announced and it’s shaping up to be quite the event. Alex Zanardi will be joining BMW, though it won’t be the first time in a DTM car for the Italian race hero. Last year he drove in Misano as a guest for BMW, finishing fifth overall in the second race of the weekend. “To compete in the Dream Race with the DTM and SUPER GT is something wonderful for me,” Zanardi said.
The second BMW driver to be announced is Kamui Kobayashi, former Formula 1 driver and Toyota World Endurance Championship star. “I would like to thank BMW Motorsport for the offer to race in one of their cars at the Dream Race in Fuji,” Kobayashi said. The third and final BMW has yet to be announced.
Audi will be sending four drivers to Fuji, including the 2019 champion Rene Rast, racing for his own team – Rosberg. Mike Rockenfeller will take the honour for his former team Abt Sportsline while Loic Duval will be there with his current team, Phoenix. Their fourth and final driver is former WEC champion Benoit Treluyer. The Frenchman will be there with WRT. Treluyer is relishing this opportunity because he has a history in Japan, having won the SUPER GT title in 2008. “I owe the biggest successes in my career to racing in Japan and with Audi. It won’t be easy for me, but I’m going to give my best.”
Another exciting announcement came yesterday: DTM is returning to Russia next year after a three-year break. The series raced at the Moscow Raceway between 2013 and 2017. However, next year the series will be visiting a different circuit – Igora Drive. The track is located near St. Petersburg and is 4.086 kilometres long, designed by the famous track designer Hermann Tilke. “We are very happy to have brought the DTM back to Russia after a two-year absence. The Igora Park is a hugely impressive facility, capable of hosting world-class, international motorsport” said Achim Kostron, Managing Director ITR.
Moving on to today’s action. The first practice session was really wet, causing numerous small incidents. First, Nick Cassidy went off in the Sachskurve, followed not long after by Nissan driver Tsugio Matsuda. Though, unlike Cassidy, Matsuda managed to escape a touch with the wall.
BMW seems to be the strongest at the moment, topping both sessions. Timo Glock ended FP1 on top with a 1:47.841. His teammate Marco Wittmann followed him in second, with Rockenfeller in third. Jake Dennis finished the first session sixth, best of the four Aston Martin R-Motorsport drivers.
The track had begun to dry for the second session. Wittmann ended the session on top, the only driver able to set a time under the 1:30 seconds. “A good Friday,” Wittmann said. “It already started well in first practice in which I was on top for most of the time until Timo beat me on his final lap. Now, in the dry, we were really competitive, really strong.”
He was followed by Rast, setting a time 0.608 seconds slower than Wittmann. Glock finished third, an overall good result. He commented: “So far, Hockenheim has been good to me as ever, but this was only free practice, so it doesn’t really count yet.” An Audi trio followed – Jamie Green, Nico Mueller and Rockenfeller. Daniel Juncadella was the fastest of the Aston Martin drivers in 12th, while Jenson Button was fastest of the SUPER GT drivers. Ryo Hirakawa in the Lexus ended 17th and Ronnie Quintarelli in the Nissan 21st.
The second session didn’t end well for Paul di Resta. A strange crash after his steering wheel suddenly came loose. This all happened in the final corner before the straight, Südkurve. He was shocked but luckily walked away. The session ended with a Safety Car practice, to allow the SUPER GT competitors to familiarise themselves with the Indy-car style re-start.
Although the drivers’ and manufacturers’ championship have been decided already, there are still two teams battling for the team’s championship. Team Rosberg (394 points) vs Team Abt Sportsline (362 points), with 86 points still available. Tomorrow we have the qualifying at 10.35 local time (09.35 UK time) and the race as usual at 13.30 local time (12.30 UK time).