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Norisring Preview: The “Franconian Monaco” awaits

Photo: ITR e.V.

We are fast approaching the halfway mark in the 2016 Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) season, as the series now races along the banks of the Dutzendteich this coming weekend.

It’s the shortest track on the calendar, but is also the one that the cars spend approximately 63 percent of their time at full throttle, putting both engines and braking systems to one of the most severe tests all year.

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With the Norisring consisting of just two hairpins and a tight chicane in the form of the Schöller esses, precision is a key factor in getting the best lap time in qualifying, as well as making the pass at the right time during the races

Mercedes-Benz goes into this weekend with the most momentum from the events at Lausitzring, which saw Mücke Motorsport’s Lucas Auer take his maiden win in the feature race, along with Robert Wickens leaving the Brandenburg region with the lead in the points standings.

The Guelph native, who is now in his fifth season, hasn’t yet won this season, but has hit the podium three times so far. But he could extend his lead if Mercedes-AMG exert their dominance once again.

“The street circuit always represents an extra challenge for man and vehicle and racing there is big fun,’ he explained, having two wins and two podium places there so far.

“In addition, the atmosphere is really cool and it feels as if the fans were even closer to the action. I was very successful in Nuremberg in recent years and I would love to tie in with these successes.”

The Stuttgart marque has been dominant at the Norisring for the last 13 years in succession, apart from Mattias Ekström’s win back in 2013. This was even though the Swede was disqualified due to a parc fermé infringement, with no winner declared by the DMSB.

However, there is one man amongst the current crop that has won around the streets of the Norising four times who could be a key player in the title race, if Audi is able to hit back at Mercedes-Benz.

Briton’s Jamie Green, aka “Mr. Norisring,” has yet to win with the Ingolstadt marque since joining them back in 2013. But with the performance of the Audi RS5 DTM still very evident for the last season and a half, there is a good chance he will be fighting at the front of the field.

Despite a testing weekend at Lausitzring a fortnight ago, Team RMG’s Marco Wittmann will now be looking to overtake Wickens in the fight for the drivers’ crown, being the best of the BMWs with two top ten finishes.

“The Norisring suits our competitors better than us, but who knows?” said the 2014 champion, who is just three points behind the Canadian.”

“Perhaps we can make for a surprise. A podium at my home races would be fantastic.”

Jens Marquardt’s outfit struggled significantly at the Brandenburg-based track last time out, even with progressively hotter temperatures helping their cause. But he has admitted that there is room for improvement, which we could potentially again see this weekend.

Even with the Norisring being the only street track that all 24 drivers will race on this year, the bumpy nature and differing tarmac surfaces will provide a stern challenge for al involved.

With the first six races providing us with six different winners, the DTM has been even more unpredictable than last season, so we could see further surprises in Nuremberg.

With the top ten from Wickens to BMW’s Augusto Farfus being split by 27 points, further incidents could change the course of the title fight to include more participants, especially with the DRS strategy being put to its ultimate test around the 2.3-km circuit.

In the race for the manufacturer’s title, Audi will have their work cut out for them, as the Ingolstadt marque saw it’s points lead dwindle significantly at Lausitz, with all three brands now separated by just 48 points.

Who’ll be leading the way after the race around the city streets? We’ll soon find out.

DTM Norising race weekend schedule (All times are BST + 1)

Friday 24.06.2016

Free Practice 1: 17:00 CEST (30 minutes)

Saturday 25.06.2016

Free Practice 2: 09:15 CEST (30 minutes)

Qualifying for Race 1: 11:05 CEST (20 minutes)

Race 1: 13:28 CEST (40 minutes plus 1 lap)

Sunday 26.06.2016

Free Practice 3: 09:00 CEST (30 minutes)

Qualifying for Race 2: 10:50 CEST (20 minutes)

Race 2: 13:13 CEST (60 minutes plus 1 lap, including mandatory pitstop)

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