After taking a hard fought third place, Gary Paffett was looking forward to getting onto the Brands Hatch podium but in a dramatic turn of events, he was judged to have not slowed down enough under an earlier yellow flag, giving Robert Wickens his first ever DTM podium. Bruno Spengler was overjoyed to take second place which also leaves him second in the championship.
Rockenfeller took an early lead from pole and although he lost the lead during the pitstop process, he returned to the front once all drivers had made their stops. His biggest threat came from Augusto Farfus in his BMW but an electronics problem saw him pull out the race just before the startline. The recovery of the car was what bought out the yellow flags that caused Gary Paffett to receive his penalty for not slowing down enough. There was also a close shave when the recovery vehicle towed the stricken BMW across the track just in front of the leader!
Once Farfus was out, Rockenfeller’s closest challenger was always Spengler but he never got close enough to challenge and crossed the line 7.5 seconds behind the winner.
Before the penalty Paffett’s race was one of the most impressive drives of the weekend. In a car that had seemed uncompetitive, he fought his way through the field with some impressive overtaking moves including one on fellow British driver and rival, Andy Priaulx. Paffett was clearly very happy with his drive, waving and punching the air on his slowing down lap. All that was to change when the decision was announced leaving Paffett to walk away from the podium disconsolately now down in 6th place.
Priaulx had an eventful but unsuccessful race, coming out worst in incidents with several drivers most notable Patrick Tambay who tapped him into a spin at druids. Priaulx then later had serve a 5 second stop go penalty for ignoring a blue flag. In the end, instead of progressing up the field, Priaulx found himself falling down the order eventually finishing in a distant 19th.
Jamie Green had a quieter race in his Audi, battling with several drivers but ultimately ending with a disappointing 15th place finish.
Ex F1 Driver Timo Glock had perhaps the most eventful race of all, overtaking several drivers but also running off the track at Graham Hill bend. Despite showing bursts of speed he took 14th just ahead of Green.
Rockenfeller was happy with how his day had gone and particularly with how his championship looks now;
“We have scored 25 points, that is just great. It was a nice race, which I was able to control quite well. My Audi worked perfectly and so were the two pit stops. Of course, going into every season, my goal is to become champion. Let’s see how the year continues,”
Spengler was also pleased with his days work;
“Today, Mike was super fast and did a very good job. Initially, he was faster, and I was faster at the end, but it wasn’t enough to overtake. I am happy with my podium result and the points”
“I had crossed the line in fourth and I was happy with that, which would have been my best DTM result so far. You don’t expect to then get told that you are on the podium and have to run the length of the front straight!”
He later described his race;
“That is like a miracle. Great to taste some champagne again after two years. I had a very good start, during which the new option tyres helped me a great deal. Two good pit stops on top of that, and a little bit of luck at the end – just perfect.”
With his win, Rockenfeller moves him into the lead of the drivers’ standings with a total of 29 points. Spengler is second with 28 points and Augusto Farfus is third with 25 points dropping from second due to failing to score at Brands Hatch.
The DTM now moves to Austria and the Red Bull Ring at the start of June. (02.06.13) By Marc Waller