DTM Brands Hatch: The series returns to the UK

The German touring car series returned to the UK for the first time since 2013 and with it a maiden victory for Daniel Juncadella in race one and a home win for Paul Di Resta in race two.

The series was hosted at Brands Hatch which looked fantastic dressed in the DTM sponsorship hoardings and banners and such was the attention to detail the series even brought their own security to the event.  

Starting race one on Saturday from pole position, Juncadella ran an impeccable race despite a slower start off the grid which knocked him down to third place behind Lucas Auer and Rene Rast. However Rast’s pitstop on the first lap immediately handed P2 to Juncadella who then went after Auer. Pitting on the seventh lap, the Spaniard rejoined ahead of Augusto Farfus and on the ninth lap passed Auer, moving into the lead.

Juncadella continued to extend his lead eventually finishing just over 8 seconds of Farfus with Auer in third place. Great Britain’s Gary Paffett finished in sixth place while Paul Di Resta finished in sixteenth place, while former DTM champ and F1 driver Pascal Wehrlein finished the race in seventh place.

Race two saw Di Resta taking his second win of the season, the ex Force India and Williams driver quickly took the lead from pole sitter Gary Paffett. There was some drama when Lucas Auer was hit by Robin Frijns then Augusto Farfus’s BMW hit Frijns’ Audi, all of which brought about a safety car period, after which Di Resta held the lead.

But after Di Resta pitted, it was Audi Sport Team Rosbergs Jamie Green that took the lead, staying out until taking his pit stop on lap 30, putting Di Resta back in the lead and giving him a win on home soil, second place went to Gary Paffett, a Mercedes 1-2,  with Rene Rast completing the podium.

Paffett tops the driver standings, currently 29 points clear of Di Resta, with BMW Team RMG’s Marco Wittman third in the championship table. There are four rounds left to go this season with the paddock moving to Misano at the end of the month.

Support racing was provided by the MINI Challenge Championship, as well as Demo Laps by retro F1 cars including the 1991 Dallara F191,

which had been raced by Emanuele Pirro and placed sixth in the 1991 Monaco Grand Prix and the Footworks Arrows FA13B raced in the 1993 season by Aguri Suzuki.

There were also Norton demo laps courtesy of John McGuinness aboard the Norton SG7.

The MINI Challenge saw double wins for ex BTCC driver Ant Whorton-Eales giving him a clear lead in the series standings.

There was a scary moment for former Top Gear editor James Mills when during Saturday’s practice session he had a spectacular crash at Paddock Hill bend, rolling several times through the gravel before hitting the barrier. Mills was extracted and taken to the medical centre but was fortunately unhurt.

The Audi Sport Seyffarth R8 LMS Cup is a new championship with the Brands Hatch round being the fourth meeting. The series fields Audi R8 with GT4 specifications, divided into pro, semi-pro and junior driver categories.

At Brands it was a double win for current championship leader Kris Heidorn.

DTM(Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) had its inaugural season in 1984 with the first rounds in the UK taking place in 1993 and 1994, due to a number of issues 1996 saw Opel and Alfa Romeo withdrawing from the series temporarily bringing DTM to a close. In 2000 DTM returned, fielding a variety of touring cars with lower costs involved, Bernd Schneider, the last champion of the old era was the first champion as the series relaunched. In 2004 Audi entered their first factory team and swept the board taking the drivers, manufacturers and teams championships. 2007 to 2013 saw a period where only two marques, Audi and Mercedes entered and Audi dominated.

Today BMW join them, with six BMW’s on the Brands Hatch grid. With the use of DRS and F1 style pit stops in the event there was a real flavour of top level racing at the Kent circuit. DRS used in zones in F1 has clearly defined use in DTM, DRS is prohibited in qualifying, broadly the use in the race isn’t allowed until the race leader has begun their fourth lap, from which point any driver who has a gap less than a second from the driver in front when crossing the line is allowed to use DRS. The driver is alerted by race control that use is permitted and then it is up to the driver when he uses the aid no more than three times, with some exceptions including during a yellow flag or safety car period.

With the much anticipated return of DTM, it’s hoped that 2018 will be the first of many future meetings in the UK by the premier series.

Full DTM Brands Hatch gallery available at: http://www.finishlinephotos.net/?p=6014

Images ©Andy Fitzpatrick