Mercedes’ Robert Wickens took his first-ever victory in the DTM at the Nürburgring, in an exciting wet race that saw BMW’s Augusto Farfus and fellow Mercedes driver Christian Vietoris completing the podium.
With the race starting in wet conditions, pole man Farfus led the pack into the first corner, where further back championship leader Mike Rockenfeller and Joey Hand spun going through turn one. Whilst Hand was out of the race on the spot, beeched in the gravel, Rockenfeller dropped to last on the road.
A resulting safety car period enabled the field to stabilise, with Rockenfeller pitting for wet tyres in the process. However the Audi driver made his stop before the pit window had opened, necessating an extra stop later in the race. The majority of other drivers waited until lap four to switch to wets, by which time the pit window was open.
Rockenfeller emerged as the leader after the rest of the field had stopped, and set about opening up a comfortable lead over fellow Audi driver Adrien Tambay. However as the race went on, it appeared that Rockenfeller would be unable to open up enough of a lead to make the extra pitstop required and when he finally made his final stop on lap 40, his lead was 13 seconds.
That left Wickens to assume the lead for the final ten laps of the race, with the Canadian having made a crucial series of passes just before the half-way stage of the race on Farfus and Tambay to move into second.
Farfus went on to finish in second, with little answer to Wickens’ pace, with Vietoris finishing in third after a strong drive in the second half of the race that elevated the German from seventh to third.
By finishing in fourth, Rockenfeller extended his championship advantage to 35 points over Vietoris, with Bruno Spengler failing to score any points for the second race in succession.
Martin Tomczyk finally put an end to his miserable run of form that has seen him fail to score points in any of the previous ten races by finishing in fifth.
Tambay held on to finish in sixth, despite being Rockenfeller’s main pursuer just before the half-way stage of the race. Marco Wittmann took his BMW to seventh, even though the young German went off from the lead of the race on the fourth lap of the race in wet conditions, kissing the barrier in the process.
Miguel Molina finished the race in eighth for Phoenix – his first points in 13 races, ahead of Abt Sportsline’s Jamie Green in ninth and RSC Mücke Motorsport’s Pascal Wehrlein in tenth.
Spengler, who received damage to the side of his BMW early in the race, could only finish in 14th after losing out in an intense mid-field battle, which saw him make contact with Filipe Albuquerque and drop out of the points. The Canadian had been running in sixth half-way through the race, but lost out as the track dried out.
Mercede’s Gary Paffett also had a race to forget, finishing down in 17th and a lap down after struggling for outright pace in the changeable conditions.
More to follow.