The DTM championship heads ‘offshore’ this weekend, crossing the English Channel to race at the historic Brands Hatch circuit for the third round of the championship season.
With Mercedes and BMW having claimed a win apiece in the first two rounds, can Audi keep the championship battle wide open with its first win of the year?
As always, RichardsF1.com will be reporting all of the action and gossip from Brands Hatch. Let’s take a look at our mega race preview…
|2012 DTM CHAMPIONSHIP RACE OF BRANDS HATCH|
|Date:||18-20 May 2012|
|Venue:||Brands Hatch Indy Circuit, London, Kent, United Kingdom|
|Race Lap Record:||41.896s, Miguel Molina (Audi) – 2010|
|Event Schedule:||Free Practice Session 1||Fri 13:20-15:10|
|Free Practice Session 2||Sat 09:00-10:40|
|Qualifying Session||Sat 12:40-13:50|
|Sunday Warm-Up||Sun 10:00-10:30|
|Race (98 laps, 189km)||Sun 13:00-14:10|
|Past Five Winners:||Martin Tomczyk (Audi)||2011|
|Paul di Resta (Mercedes-Benz)||2010|
|Paul di Resta (Mercedes-Benz)||2009|
|Timo Scheider (Audi)||2008|
|Bernd Schneider (Mercedes-Benz)||2007|
As ever, this year’s instalment of DTM racing will be run on the classic circuit’s shorter ‘Indy’ loop, which affords spectators a complete view of the circuit from almost which ever position they sit at in the grand stands or general admission areas.
“As we are racing on the Indy circuit it will be a really intense sort of lap. There are going to be a lot of laps in the race so there is not going to be much space between the cars. The circuit at Brands Hatch is obviously fantastic for the fans, as they get to see the cars a lot during the race,” BMW driver Andy Priaulx said in his preview of this weekend’s event.
The short lap length will place particular emphasis on pit stop strategies, with drivers running the risk of emerging a lap down on the leaders when they exit the pits. Expect to see a lot of the frontrunners adopting a flexible strategy to try and have their drivers fed back onto the track without costing too much time or track position.
Rewind to 2011
Held in a typically damp British spring, last year’s race saw Audi clinch a dominant 1-2-3 in a rain-hit and actioned-filled race at the Kent circuit.
His cause was helped when Edoardo Mortara and Gary Paffett tangled on the second lap, and the German then powered by Mattias Ekström and Mike Rockenfeller with separate passing moves to take the lead on the tenth lap.
From that point, his lead was never threatened, and he brought his Audi home to win by two seconds from Ekström and Mortara, a brilliant 1-2-3 for the carmaker.
The win ensured Tomczyk would retake the lead of the Drivers’ Championship standings by two points from Mercedes rival Bruno Spengler.
Facts, Stats & Predictions
With Mercedes and BMW winning the opening two rounds of the championship respectively, it now remains for Audi to open its victory account with a win this weekend.
What is obvious is how competitive the three different marques have been to-date, which is making predicting a possible winner a great challenge.
That being said, this is a circuit on which Audi has an excellent record, so the ‘four rings’ will be hoping for a repeat of its dominant run here from last year.
Fresh off its rather unexpected 1-2 at the Lausitzring, there are hopes that BMW will be able to continue its winning form in its return season to DTM competition.
Not so, say the carmaker’s powerbrokers, who are predicting a tough weekend at a circuit that they have not visited during their build-up to return to the series following their 20-year absence.
“The first two races have shown us that our BMW M3 DTM is competitive. In Brands Hatch, however, the balance of power may once again look completely different. After all, we are yet to drive a single meter there with a DTM car and still have no set-up data available," said Jens Marquardt, BMW Motorsport Director.
Mercedes, meanwhile, completed the podium last time out in Germany, and with three local drivers in its ranks – Gary Paffett, Jamie Green and David Coulthard – it should have most fans’ support, at least be weight of numbers. BMW’s Andy Priaulx is the only other British driver in the field.
This should hopefully be another exciting instalment of DTM action. As always, make sure you visit RichardsF1.com for all of the latest news and analysis from Brands Hatch!