Bruno Spengler has helped reverse the form book by getting a Mercedes-Benz pole position for Sunday’s season-opening race of the DTM championship when he qualified fastest in the final shoot-out at Hockenheim today.
After rival Audi had locked out the top three positions in each of the opening practice sessions held to-date, Spengler used his new front splitter to good effect, going a confidence-boosting fastest in the third phase of qualifying to head into the final, single-lap stage of the session.
The biggest surprise of qualifying came in the form of Gary Paffett, with the lead HWA Team driver sliding backwards into the barriers at the Sachs Kurve on his opening lap of Q1. Out came the red flags and Paffett took no further part in qualifying, meaning he will start from last place for tomorrow’s race.
Organisers decided to abandon Q1 and promote everyone into the second phase of qualifying – a busier session that saw nine drivers knocked out of the running to make it into Q3.
The session should have seen the remaining 2009-spec runners comfortably through into the third phase of qualifying, but Jamie Green capped off a difficult session for the HWA outfit by failing to get no higher than 14th-fastest in his return outing in the newer equipment.
The absence of Paffett and Green saw the less-fancied Martin Tomczyk, Maro Engel and Miguel Molina manage to make it into Q3, although they would line up slowest in this session.
The fourth and final stage of qualifying saw Spengler go through along with Ralf Schumacher, Timo Scheider and Mattias Ekström.
Ekström was the slowest of the runners to scrape into Q4, but he set an impressive benchmark time of 1:34.420, which neither Scheider (who ran wide on his hot-lap) nor Schumacher was able to better.
It was then left to Spengler to deny Audi a pole position result, and a bertter final sector proved just the ticket for him to pinch pole, having been evenly matched with Ekström on sector times in the first two splits of the lap.
2011 Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters Race of Hockenheim Qualifying Results:
|Driver||Entrant / Car|
|1.||Bruno Spengler||HWA Mercedes C-Class 2009||1:34.270||(Q4)|
|2.||Mattias Ekström||Abt Audi A4 DTM 2009||1:34.402||(Q4)|
|3.||Ralf Schumacher||HWA Mercedes C-Class 2009||1:34.577||(Q4)|
|4.||Timo Scheider||Abt Audi A4 DTM 2009||1:35.434||(Q4)|
|5.||Mike Rockenfeller||Abt Audi A4 DTM 2009||1:34.194||(Q3)|
|6.||Martin Tomczyk||Phoenix Audi A4 DTM 2008||1:34.285||(Q3)|
|7.||Maro Engel||Mücke Mercedes C-Class 2008||1:34.386||(Q3)|
|8.||Miguel Molina||Abt Audi A4 DTM 2008||1:35.268||(Q3)|
|9.||Christian Vietoris||Persson Mercedes C-Class 2008||1:34.445||(Q2)|
|10.||Edoardo Mortara||Rosberg Audi A4 DTM 2008||1:34.386||(Q2)|
|11.||Renger can der Zande||Persson Mercedes C-Class 2008||1:34.475||(Q2)|
|12.||Oliver Jarvis||Abt Audi A4 DTM 2009||1:34.559||(Q2)|
|13.||David Coulthard||Mücke Mercedes C-Class 2008||1:34.698||(Q2)|
|14.||Jamie Green||HWA Mercedes C-Class 2009||1:34.720||(Q2)|
|15.||Filipe Albuquerque||Rosberg Audi A4 DTM 2008||1:34.758||(Q2)|
|16.||Susie Stoddart||Persson Mercedes C-Class 2008||1:34.778||(Q2)|
|17.||Rahel Frey||Phoenix Audi A4 DTM 2008||1:35.403||(Q2)|
|18.||Gary Paffett||HWA Mercedes C-Class 2009||no time||(Q1)|
[Original image via DTM official site]