A qualifying of two halves for Mike Rockenfeller. The fastest man in qualifying won’t start from pole after receiving a five-place grid drop. Nico Mueller inherits the top spot.
Anyone hoping for some drier running skin to yesterday’s qualifying was rather disappointed today. A wet session throughout with the rain intensifying in the final minutes. In tricky conditions, it looked as though Nico Mueller would take the final pole position of the season. With a 1:50.813 he was just 0.002 seconds faster than Team Phoenix’ Mike Rockenfeller. After the chequered flag fell, Mueller aborted his lap and returned to the pits, but Rockenfeller managed a slight improvement and beat Mueller’s time with a 1:50.800, earning him provisional pole.
However, after receiving a penalty for his third warning of the season in yesterday’s race, he will have to start from sixth. As a result of this, the final pole position of the season was handed to Nico Mueller. The Abt Sportsline driver is still battling with Marco Wittmann for the second place in the championship. The point difference between them is 23 points, in favour of Mueller. The only possibility for BMW’s Wittmann is if he wins and Mueller doesn’t score any points.
“Obviously I’m very happy that [starting from pole]. Even though I would have liked to also have the quickest lap in the session, instead of a pole getting gifted by a penalty of Mike [Rockenfeller]. I can’t wait to go out there and hopefully end this season on a high.”
BMW’s Timo Glock will line up alongside Mueller on the first row of the grid. The German continues his strong pace of the weekend after a disappointing season. Thanks to Rockenfeller’s penalty, Jamie Green moves up to third, and BMW’s Joel Eriksson and Marco Wittmann to fourth and fifth.
Philipp Eng and champion Rene Rast will line up alongside each other on the fourth row of the gird. Rast’s best time was 1.073 seconds slower than Rockenfeller’s. Audi’s Robin Frijns and Loic Duval rounded out the top ten in ninth and tenth.
The Aston Martin Vantage DTM cars seem quite strong in this kind of wet conditions. Earlier in the session, they were in the first four positions. But, as other drivers started to improve as well, the best they could do was the 11th position for Jake Dennis. “I’m pretty frustrated,” he commented after the session. “I did a lap time good enough for P4 today, but unfortunately I had a bit oversteer in T1. I dropped my left wheel on the track limits section. So it [the lap] got deleted.”
Lining up alongside him on the sixth row is his teammate Ferdinand Habsburg. The Austrian R-Motorsport driver qualified in the same position yesterday but wasn’t able to start the race due to engine issues. Their teammates Paul di Resta and Daniel Juncadella couldn’t do more than a 17th and 18th position.
Best of the SUPER GT’s is Nicky Cassidy in his Lexus in 16th position. Jenson Button in his Honda will start the race from 19th. The third SUPER GT car of Ronnie Quintarelli in his Nissan qualified 21st and last on the grid. A tricky session and conditions for them, as they aren’t familiar with the wet Hankook tyres and seem to struggle to find good balance and grip. The bosses of DTM and SUPER GT are hoping to equalize the cars even more for the future.
The 18th and final race of the season start at 13.30 local time (12.30 UK time). It looks like we will have a wet, and therefore, exciting race ahead.