Martin celebrates second DTM success – Wehrlein closes up to title win
In their home race at the Nürburgring, Maxime Martin and his BMW team RMG celebrated victory in their home round at the Nürburgring. Second place in the action-packed race on Saturday went to Audi driver Edoardo Mortara while points’ leader Pascal Wehrlein extended his lead by finishing third. Behind Wehrlein, three further Mercedes-Benz drivers finished in the top six.
Standing on the roof of his BMW M4 DTM after a spectacular race, Martin cheered in the pit lane about the second DTM win of his career: “I am incredibly proud. Winning here at this track is simply just fantastic.” Audi driver Mortara made a comeback in the battle for the title by finishing second: “A great race in which I was rewarded with second place. That is great, but we want more.” Thrilling on-track duels marked the race on Saturday, in which the drivers didn’t give anything away between them. One of the drivers to experience this was Pascal Wehrlein in the first corner of the race, when he tangled with the eventual winner. Nevertheless, Wehrlein secured himself third place, extended his lead in the drivers’ standings, but still wasn’t entirely happy. “When you head into the first corner as the leader and then are being dealt such a blow, you just can’t be happy. But I have watched the footage of the situation once again. Maxime played it absolutely fair. There was a gap and he used it.” Especially the duels and the overtaking manoeuvres at the end of the main straight added plenty of top-class action to the race.
As so often this season, there was plenty of turmoil right after the start. Pole sitter Lucas Auer had to let Martin and Wehrlein, who started behind him, get past. The two tangled before the first corner while an unfazed Martin used a gap on the inside. While the BMW driver took the lead in the race, both Bruno Spengler, who had started from fourth, and Mortara, who was fifth on the grid, went past Wehrlein. For pole-sitter Auer, the action initially ended in seventh place.
Only soon after that, there was a collision between Jamie Green and Miguel Molina in the midfield that led to the interruption of the race (red flag). Rookie driver Tom Blomqvist had tangled with Green’s Audi in the Mercedes Arena, after which Green spun and Molina wasn’t able to avoid the collision. Oil and carbon parts on the track had to be removed, which was the reason that the race was interrupted for almost 15 minutes.
Directly after the restart, Martin pulled clear from the rest of the field and gradually extended his lead. “Still, it was a tough job, because my tyres significantly degraded towards the end of the race.” Behind the eventual winner, there was an entertaining three-way fight between title candidates Spengler, Mortara and Wehrlein. The Canadian with the black BMW defended his position for a long time, but Mortara made his decisive move for second place on lap 15: the Italian went past on the inside. A thrilling manoeuvre that couldn’t be completed without contact. “Initially, I was slightly worried that something could be damaged,” Mortara said, whose worries weren’t confirmed. For Spengler, however, the race was over after a few more laps. Initially, he tried to keep on, but had to stop in the pits on lap 18 with a puncture and a damaged front section of his car, and thus probably also saw his final hopes of winning the title fade away.
Gary Paffett demonstrated his competitive skills once again and made it up from 14th on the grid to finish fourth. The two DTM rookies Maximilian Götz and Lucas Auer finished in fifth and sixth place. Seventh position went to last year’s champion Marco Wittmann, who successfully defended his position from eighth-placed Robert Wickens. With a surprising overtaking move in the chicane, António Félix da Costa secured ninth place and demoted Mattias Ekström to tenth.
Ekström, Wehrlein’s fiercest rival in the battle for the title prior to the race at Nürburgring, at least managed to make up seven places in the race, but probably still wasn’t quite happy. After all, Ekström’s gap to the 20-year old increased and he lost his second place in the drivers’ standings to fellow Audi driver Mortara. With three remaining races, Wehrlein has a total score of 155 points after 15 races, Mortara 128 and Ekström 127. Should Wehrlein take victory in the race on Sunday at 13.35 hrs and his rivals Mortara and Ekström don’t score, he can already be crowned as the 2015 champion.