Tyre degradation stopped Mike Rockenfeller improving position in race one

Tyre degradation stopped Mike Rockenfeller improving position in race one

Photo: Audi

Audi Sport Team Phoenix’s Mike Rockenfeller scored his fourth podium of the season after coming home in third in the opening DTM race at the Lausitzring. The 2013 champion made a decisive move on BMW Team RMG’s Marco Wittmann in the final ten minutes of the race to take to the rostrum.

Rockenfeller pitted on lap 17, a late stop in comparison to the other front running drivers, giving the Audi driver fresher tyres which allowed him to climb the order.

“When I came out of the box I knew I had fresher tyres than the guys in front of me, which helps to close the gap,” explained Rockenfeller.

“I lost a bit of time on my outlap fighting with Loïc [Duval] and then later on with Marco.”

Rockenfeller was critical of how tyre degradation stopped him from closing the gap to Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline’s Robin Frijns, and stopped Wittmann from defending.

“Every fight when you overdrive the car and squeeze out a bit too much from the tyre,” explained the Audi driver, “You pay for it at the end, it felt a bit like this with Marco.

“At the end I think he realised that he had no chance and also he didn’t want to kill his tyres completely against me and saved his fourth place.

“For me it was good, but I didn’t have enough at the end.”

Rockenfeller had to fight hard to pass Wittmann, and after a failed first attempt to overtake at T1, Rockenfeller took a different approach second time round.

“The first time he went a bit wide and we touched a bit,” reported Rockenfeller, “I gave up there.

“Second time I tried the same thing again and I think it was a bit more careful.

“It felt quite clean and quite fair to be honest.”