Bruno Spengler has opened his DTM championship campaign in the best possible way by winning the season-opening round at Hockenheim with a dominant win from pole position.

Bruno Spengler won the opening round at Hockenheim The HWA Mercedes-Benz driver led from the outset and stayed in front for the entirety of the 38-lap race to take his eighth career win. Behind him, the top-four qualifier finished in the order that they started, Audi’s Mattias Ekström finished in second place, while Ralf Schumacher headed home in third place to take his maiden podium finish in the championship.

But it was the final lap of the 38-lap race that caused the most excitement when Ekström suddenly slowed in the final two corners with an apparent rear suspension problem, but he still managed to stagger over the line, just 0.1 seconds ahead of a fast-closing Schumacher.

Having been quickest in the morning’s warm-up session, Schumacher himself was having difficulties holding onto third place when he locked it up under braking in the closing section of the lap and had to robustly defend his position from Abt Mercedes-Benz driver Timo Scheider, who would finish just behind in fourth place.

And despite the lack of passing at the front of the field, it was still a closely-fought affair, with Spengler unable to build a lead of more than a few seconds from the chasing pack.

The gap was still minimal as the second round of pit stops approached, and tensions were heightened further when the safety car was deployed after Martin Tomczyk departed pit lane with his fuel-filler can still attached to his Audi. Fortunately, the can detached from his car as he exited the pit lane, but the debris on the circuit necessitated a full-course caution period, and allowed the field to bunch up.

Despite the obvious risk to driver safety, Tomczyk was not issued with a penalty for this misdemeanour and he took the chequered flag in fifth place, a great result given he races one of the older-spec cars. Tomczyk had actually run as high as fourth after passing Scheider during the race, but he could not withhold the attacks from his Audi colleague.

Plaudits too for Gary Paffett, who finished in sixth place after starting from the back of the grid when he crashed in yesterday’s qualifying session. The Briton had climbed up to eighth place before being bottled up behind Miguel Molina, but he managed to overtake the Spaniard after the Safety Car pulled in.

Molina tried to counter-attack later in the lap, but he rain wide at the entrance to the hairpin as he tried to re-pass Paffett and was tapped into a spin by Oliver Jarvis as he rejoined.

Meanwhile now released, Paffett then set about chasing down passing Maro Engel for sixth place, which he achieved, and the German was also passed by Jamie Green, who was himself recovering after a poor qualifying session.


2011 DTM Race of Hockenheim Final Standings (38 laps):

Driver Entrant / Car Result
1. Bruno Spengler CDN HWA Mercedes C-Class 2009 Mercedes 1:03:07.244
2. Mattias Ekström SWE Abt Audi A4 DTM 2009 Audi + 3.696
3. Ralf Schumacher DEU HWA Mercedes C-Class 2009 Mercedes + 3.883
4. Timo Scheider DEU Abt Audi A4 DTM 2009 Audi + 4.585
5. Martin Tomczyk DEU Phoenix Audi A4 DTM 2008 Audi + 5.256
6. Gary Paffett GBR HWA Mercedes C-Class 2009 Mercedes + 6.591
7. Jamie Green GBR HWA Mercedes C-Class 2009 Mercedes + 10.653
8. Maro Engel DEU Mücke Mercedes C-Class 2008 Mercedes + 11.938
9. Oliver Jarvis GBR Abt Audi A4 DTM 2009 Audi + 13.803
10. David Coulthard GBR Mücke Mercedes C-Class 2008 Mercedes + 14.246
11. Mike Rockenfeller DEU Abt Audi A4 DTM 2009 Audi + 16.164
12. Susie Stoddart GBR Persson Mercedes C-Class 2008 Mercedes + 16.488
13. Christian Vietoris DEU Persson Mercedes C-Class 2008 Mercedes + 17.310
14. Edoardo Mortara ITA Rosberg Audi A4 DTM 2008 Audi + 18.341
15. Rahel Frey SUI Phoenix Audi A4 DTM 2008 Audi + 25.944
16. Miguel Molina ESP Abt Audi A4 DTM 2008 Audi + 28.420
17. Filipe Albuquerque POR Rosberg Audi A4 DTM 2008 Audi + 29.011
  Not Classified        
  Renger can der Zande NED Persson Mercedes C-Class 2008 Mercedes 30 laps

[Original image via DTM official site]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.