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Monday 30th April 2012


PH BLOG: HOCKENHEIM AND THE DTM

It was great in the 80s, and spectacular in the 90s. Riggers finds out if new rules can help to rekindle DTM's glory days


There are many of you out there who will rightly point out that, for the past few years, DTM has not been the most exciting of motorsport spectacles. But the sport itself knows this, and has been trying to bring more action into the mix.

In that respect, this year is the big one – the cars are all-new, the aero has been restricted, and BMW is back after a 20-year absence, bringing the German ‘Big Three’ into direct competition once again.

We’re here to see if the tweaks to the DTM recipe have worked. We’re certainly not the only ones intrigued by the new season – last week 72,000 fans turned out in a sodden central Wiesbaden for the official launch of the car. So keep checking back here over the weekend and we’ll be updating you on just how interesting the self-proclaimed most sophisticated tin-top series in the world has become.

Riggers


Sunday: Hockenheim paddock
1500h

Gary Paffett leads Jamie Green
Gary Paffett leads Jamie Green
Well folks, that's it. The first race of the new DTM, done. And no, it's not the sort of white-knuckle, crash-bang-wallop racing you get in the BTCC. But as a spectacle, the close racing and fantastically well-engineered, run and funded cars make it a fascinating thing to watch.

There's also the not insignificant fact that we've just witnessed a Brit one-two (Gary Paffett beating Jamie Green to the top step of the podium after a proper close battle), with Andy Priaulx the leading BMW in sixth.

Add that to David Coulthard finishing eighth and that's four Brits in the top eight places. Which makes the DTM almost a local championship, and should give you something to cheer about if you pop along to Brands Hatch, where the series heads on 20th May.


Sunday: Hockenheim paddock
1300h


Just enjoyed lunch in the Audi Team hospitality suite (thank you Audi, with your food you've definitely earned at least one supporter on PH - not that we're that easily bought).

But the coolest bit about lunch? Definitely sitting on a table next to 1982 F1 World Champion Keke Rosberg. Your PH correspondent was too shy chat to the man himself, whose driver Edoardo Mortara sits 4th on the grid for this afternoon's race. We did take this photo of the back of his head as a souvenir, however.

Just off to watch Herr Schumacher (M) demonstrating his Mercedes F1 car before the main event. Suppose this will be one outing where he finishes in front of his teammate...

...although given the crowds (below), we might not get there in time.



1400h


BMW is back in the DTM, as this enormous T shirt reminds us...


Saturday: Hockenheim paddock
1100h


DTM meets Victorian seaside panto in this 'attraction' at the entrance to the DTM paddock. I know I look damn silly, but I just couldn't resist...

Daftness aside, initial impressions are that there are a lot of people here - it's getting on for British GP busy. Must go now, got some racing to watch...

1230h


There's a lot of very careful diplomacy between series organisers ITR and the three manufacturers involved in the DTM. See exhibit A. To wit: M5, CLS 63 and S4 Avant parked conspicuously next to each other outside the Hockenheim media centre. Nice touch...

1315h


For a sense of just how big a deal the series is, just take a look at the serried ranks of transporter lorries (all immaculately clean) and plush hospitality suites (on the left). All very F1. Oh, and there's quite a few people here too, as you can see, though it's only qualifying today...

1350h


Some on-track action at last. And, to be honest, my initial reaction is mild disappointment - these are clearly impressive machines, but the look and sound more like sports prototypes than thundering V8 saloons.

The way the cars' suspensions are upset by the kerbs at the first corner is very promising, however, so the jury's still officially out on the entertainment factor.

1500h


After a super-close qualifying session, the top three places are, unbelievably, filled by an Audi (Ekstrom), a Mercedes (Jamie Green) and a BMW (Dirk Werner). The series organisers couldn't have dreamed of that sort of result when they took the above image in Munich earlier this week...

1650h


It's not just touring cars, of course. There are plenty of supporting races, including the Porsche Carrera Cup, though sadly this particular example didn't do any racing today...

Author: Riggers