BMW Team RBM driver Joel Eriksson finished second in the first DTM race at Zolder, claiming that his late race battle with Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline driver Nico Müller was the most difficult race of his life.
Eriksson made an early mandatory stop on lap eight which was four laps prior to eventual race winner BMW Team RMR’s Philipp Eng.
“I’m super happy for the BMW crew,” explained Eriksson, “they gave us the best strategy today in the race and it really paid off.”
The BMW driver benefitted from the mid-race safety car, putting him in a position to come home with a strong points finish.
“The restart was more or less everything, but I knew Philipp was on much better tyres than me so there was no point in fighting him as we are teammates.
“From then, it was just to set up a target lap time and focus on that, and make no mistakes.”
In the closing stages of the race Eriksson was locked in battle with Müller, who had much newer tyres.
“It was the hardest race of my life,” revealed the Swedish driver, “Nico was on faster tyres than me and there was no room for any mistakes.
“I didn’t do any mistakes until the last lap when he was catching up on the straights.
“I braked too late and locked up the tyres into turn four, in the end it didn’t cost us anything.”
With track temperatures at almost double what they had been in practice and qualifying, tyre management was an issue across the grid.
“You need to manage the tyre and don’t do any stupid mistakes. In the end I could really feel that the tyres were on the limit.”
Eriksson held on to second place, his best result since his maiden race win at Misano last season.