The DTM at Zandvoort: racing with beach flair
Usually, it’s a true dilemma, on a hot mid-summer weekend: should you go swimming or attend a thrilling motor-racing event. This weekend, however, you can have it all: from 10th to 12th July, when DTM makes its stop at Zandvoort, Netherlands, the refreshing North Sea waves are just a stone’s throw away from the unique 4.307-kilometre dune circuit with its challenging and versatile track layout. The fourth race meeting of the 2015 DTM season will make for a very special atmosphere no motor-racing enthusiast should miss out on. And as usual, this year, the DTM back-to-back races will make for the extra dose of action. Both on Saturday and Sunday, the 24 drivers racing for Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz will contest a qualifying session and a race and this does not only mean more track time for the drivers – first of all, the fans are the ones benefiting from the new format.
For many fans, the unique mix of race action and beach feeling turns the DTM meeting at Zandvoort into one of the true season highlights. And the drivers of the most popular international touring-car series already look forward to racing at the special circuit located in the western part of the Netherlands.
With four Zandvoort wins under his belt, Mattias Ekström is the most successful DTM driver at the Dutch venue. And the Swede always likes to come back: “I like the left-right combination, the mix of slow and fast corners. Following the Norisring weekend we are allowed to get rid of a part of our performance weight and consequently, we will be on a par with our opponents, weight-wise. I’m looking forward to this battle.”
The number two in the Zandvoort record book is Gary Paffett: the experienced Mercedes-Benz drivers crossed the Zandvoort finish line three times as race winner. Therefore, the Briton also travels to the Netherlands with fond memories: “It’s an entertaining circuit – somewhat old-school, very narrow, only a few run-off areas. Next to the corner you usually find the gravel or the grass. For us drivers, racing here slightly resembles racing at a street circuit. You have to push hard while always being aware that the line is extremely thin. I particularly love the high-speed corners taking you towards the dunes.” At the same time, Paffett doesn’t expect Mercedes to be as dominant as in the previous race meeting in Nuremberg. “Yes, we had a very successful weekend at the Norisring but that circuit is very special. Therefore, we arguably have to go back to the Lausitzring status and keep on working from there, for the coming races. I think making it to the top five at Zandvoort would be a great result.”
Augusto Farfus is the only BMW driver who could win at Zandvoort since the Bavarian’s DTM comeback. “I like the circuit, it suits my style if driving well,” says the Brazilian. “We were really fast at Zandvoort in 2013 while the race in 2014 didn’t run too well for us. But I’m looking ahead and think that we will be able to deliver this year. I definitely will fight for making it to the podium and I want to win. That’s why I’m making the trip to the Netherlands.” When asked for the key factor for succeeding at Zandvoort, all those involved are of the same opinion. “The track surface differs a lot from others and provides a lot of grip. Therefore, the tyre performance degrades quickly,” explains Ekström and Paffett agrees: “If you want to make it to the top your tyre management must be really good.” While Augusto Farfus adds: “In the first race, without the pit stop, rationing your tyres will be particularly difficult.” So, the races will be spiced up by an additional factor and it could well be that they won’t be won by the fastest but the most clever driver
Meanwhile, the situation in the drivers’ championship is extremely close, with six races contested. Should Jamie Green mull the Saturday race, four drivers theoretically could steel his championship lead as early as in the first round of the weekend. His currently toughest rival, 11 points behind, is Audi’s experienced ace Mattias Ekström, with Pascal Wehrlein, the best Mercedes-Benz driver, following close behind. BMW, however, currently aren’t a factor in the battle for the title, with Bruno Spengler in ninth position being the best-placed BMW driver. The reigning champions have to focus on trying to close the gap to their competitors from Ingolstadt and Stuttgart. In consideration of this fact, Spengler’s third place on the Sunday race of the Norisring weekend represented an important step in the right direction. Therefore, it will be even more exciting to find out how the balance of power will turn out to be at Zandvoort.
And even when DTM makes a break, at Zandvoort, other series will provide thrilling race action for the visitors: Numerous skilled young guns are battling it out in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship to earn their first international stripes and impress the Formula 1 and DTM Team Principals by doing so. That’s how this year’s DTM rookies Tom Blomqvist and Lucas Auer advanced to DTM. Another regular component of the DTM support programme – the German Porsche Carrera Cup, representing the most competitive national Porsche Championship – accompanies the series to the Netherlands, too. Meanwhile, the Supercar Challenge is a new addition to a DTM meeting. The series that is very popular in the BeNeLux countries features a truly interesting starting grid: From young to classic BMW M3 vehicles through beefy American sports cars such as Dodge Viper or Corvette ZR1 and Italian super cars such as Ferrari 458 or Lamborghini Gallardo to exotic open vehicles such as the KTM X-Bow and several cars of the brand Radical: the motor-racing enthusiasts may look forward to a colourful mix of vehicles.
At the same time, the crowds also may look forward to numerous highlights aloof from the track. Just a few steps away from the track, the fans can enjoy themselves in numerous pubs and clubs while those who prefer to delve into culture or make a shopping tour can do so in the nearby city of Haarlem. In addition, the Netherland’s capital Amsterdam, one of the most popular European metropolises, is just a 45-minute drive away.
And even those who haven’t got the chance of witnessing the Zandvoort weekend on site needn’t miss a single minute of the race action in the Dutch dunes. As usual, DTM’s German TV partner ARD covers the two races live on TV and the coverage also can be watched in the World Wide Web at sportschau.de and DTM.com. There, the users will not only be provided with the qualifying-session coverage as bonus but also with live ticker, live timing and live on-board cameras in the cars as free additional offer.
The Zandvoort meeting will be kicked off on Friday, 10th July. Please find the schedule and everything worth to know about the three-day event here. Tickets can be ordered at DTM.com to then be printed out by dint of the Print@Home method – or purchased on site at the Circuit Park Zandvoort box offices.