Bruno Spengler gives new BMW its first DTM win at Lausitz
|By Jamie O'Leary||Sunday, May 6th 2012, 13:24 GMT|
Bruno Spengler gave BMW its first DTM win for 20 years after resisting extreme race-long pressure from Gary Paffett's Mercedes at Lausitz.
A rocket start from Paffett from third on the grid brought him onto the tail of polesitter Spengler at the first corner of the race, and the pair were able to pull away from the pursuing back during the early stages.
While the gap between the two stabilised at under a second for most of the race, Schnitzer driver Spengler was able to crucially increase his advantage to around 1.5s as both rounds of mandatory pitstops approached.
This meant that despite the HWA team twice giving Paffett a quicker pitstop and the British driver producing better in and out laps than his rival, Spengler was just able to keep the lead.
Championship leader Paffett spent the last 16 laps right on his rival's bootlid; the gap never increasing beyond 0.6s. But he was unable to mount a passing move. He lost any chance of passing Spengler when he braked slightly too late at Turn 1 on the final lap, bumping over the Ludwig kerbs and dropping more than 1s behind.
That ensured that Spengler took his 10th DTM victory and the first for BMW since Roberto Ravaglia's double win at Hockenheim in October 1992 - also in a Schnitzer-run car.
Behind them another BMW/Mercedes battle ensued as Augusto Farfus, who had lost second place to Paffett at the start, resisted similar pressure from Jamie Green's HWA car for the second half of the race.
Green, who had started sixth, made an excellent move to deprive Edoardo Mortara's Rosberg Audi of fourth on lap nine and then ran 10 laps longer than any of the other frontrunners during his first stint to move onto the tail of Farfus's RBM-run M3.
A slow final pitstop for Green, caused as the HWA mechanics struggled to fit his left-rear wheel, meant a stationary time more than 3s longer than the Brazilian and ensured he stayed behind entering the final stint. No matter how hard he tried, he could not deny Farfus a maiden DTM podium on only his second start in the series.
Mattias Ekstrom had a steady run to fifth, the Swede finishing a second ahead of his Abt Audi team-mate Timo Scheider, who had started 12th, copied Green's strategy of running a long first stint and took full advantage by exiting the pits after his final stop side by side with Ekstrom.
Champion Martin Tomczyk, who had battled with Green and Mortara for fourth during the first third of the race, took his first points finish since switching from Audi to BMW with seventh, while Mortara and his team-mate Filipe Albuquerque were next up.
After starting fourth, Mike Rockenfeller dropped four places on the opening lap, let Scheider by for eighth early on and then endured a long final pitstop due to a problem with the right-rear wheel. The German had looked set to complete the points finishers in the Phoenix Audi, but fell to 13th instead.
That should have handed Robert Wickens his maiden DTM point, but the Canadian's Mucke Mercedes ground to a halt with a mechanical problem with four laps left. Ralf Schumacher (HWA) picked up the final point instead.
Results - 52 laps: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Bruno Spengler Schnitzer BMW 1h09m45.795s 2. Gary Paffett HWA Mercedes + 1.019s 3. Augusto Farfus RBM BMW + 7.069s 4. Jamie Green HWA Mercedes + 7.676s 5. Mattias Ekstrom Abt Audi + 21.362s 6. Timo Scheider Abt Audi + 22.607s 7. Martin Tomczyk RMG BMW + 25.446s 8. Edoardo Mortara Rosberg Audi + 32.202s 9. Filipe Albuquerque Rosberg Audi + 32.658s 10. Ralf Schumacher HWA Mercedes + 35.513s 11. Christian Vietoris HWA Mercedes + 45.699s 12. David Coulthard Mucke Mercedes + 46.355s 13. Mike Rockenfeller Phoenix Audi + 47.667s 14. Joey Hand RMG BMW + 48.034s 15. Miguel Molina Phoenix Audi + 48.836s 16. Roberto Merhi Persson Mercedes + 56.454s 17. Andy Priaulx RBM BMW + 58.984s 18. Adrien Tambay Abt Audi + 1m04.646s 19. Dirk Werner Schnitzer BMW + 1m05.201s 20. Rahel Frey Abt Audi + 1m08.570s 21. Susie Wolff Persson Mercedes + 1 lap Retirements: Robert Wickens Mucke Mercedes 47 laps