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Mike Rockenfeller: Race one just about ‘surviving’ with the tyres

Mike Rockenfeller lamented his tyre selection for the wet opening DTM race of the year at the Hockenheimring, with the Audi driver believing that if he had run with the same tyres as in qualifying he could have been more competitive.

Rockenfeller started the race from second on the grid and, save for losing out initially at the start, ran in the podium positions throughout the race.

The German had earlier traded top times with eventual race winner Marco Wittmann in qualifying, and put the fact he was unable to challenge the BMW driver for the win down to using new tyres in the race, whilst his rival started on the older rubber.

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“Today my pace was pretty good in qualifying,” said Rockenfeller. “Between Marco and myself we were really going for the fight for pole position, so I was expecting the same in the race.

“Marco used the tyre from qualifying for the start, we put a new set on to use the qualifying set later on because we were expecting constant rain, so we were aiming for a lot less loss after the pitstop.

“But the start was a disaster, first of all. I think second position in the rain is not great, because there’s a lot of rubber and a lot of lines and stuff, and on top of that I didn’t do a good job there. I went from P2 to P4, then I re-passed people and I was back in P2.

“I thought it was OK, but the tyre never felt good; I never had traction compared to qualifying, so I think somehow the tyre set was pretty bad.”

Rockenfeller let fellow Audi driver René Rast by just before the halfway stage of the race, with the 2013 champion then re-gaining second when Rast later retired with a gearbox issue.

“I had to let René by – immediately I saw he was closing easy and I didn’t want to make his life difficult because for sure we would try to chase Marco and at that point I had no chance.

“I was just trying to survive with the first set [of tyres]. Obviously, we used it very long, which was not good for me because I kept losing and losing. After we put the set from qualifying on the car was good again and we were competitive.

“Overall, I am very happy to score the points and to take second place today – it’s a long season ahead, a lot of races, and you need to be consistent so I’m quite happy.”

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