From bad boy to good guy | DTM
2018-12-06 16:30:00

From bad boy to good guy

From bad boy to good guy

In 2017, at the age of 35 years, Loïc Duval made his DTM debut. It was a tough year for the Frenchman: he finished 18 and last in the championship, with his second place at Zandvoort being the only ray of hope. In 2018, the Audi driver once again couldn’t produce a lot of tangible results – apart from his pole at Misano. In the end, the 2013 World Endurance Racing Champion had to settle for finishing 17th in the championship but is optimistic regarding the 2019 season, nevertheless.

“If you finish at the back end of the field, in the championship, that certainly isn’t a positive result. At the end of the day, however, there also are positive things. The Audi package wasn’t as competitive this year as it was in 2017 but we improved a lot in the second half of the season. Although we failed to secure the desired results,” said Duval and explained: “In DTM, getting your act together at the perfect point in time is difficult. Gary Paffett, for instance, won the title this year. He wasn’t bad in recent years but look at his result in 2014. He finished 22nd that year. Or Augusto Farfus: he came 16th in the championship, this year, right ahead of me – and then he travels to Macau and wins the prestigious GT race. I think that my 2018 season was clearly better than my rookie year and I have got high hopes for 2019.”

Duval was clearly more consistent and made it to the top 10 more often

In 2017, Duval made it to the top 10 just twice – by finishing second at Zandvoort and eighth at Spielberg – but in his second DTM season he upped the ante by securing eight top-10 results. ”A podium definitely would have been possible. I had a lot of bad luck in both Misano rounds. O Saturday I was turned around twice and made it to the top five, nevertheless. And on Sunday, the safety-car was deployed right after I had pitted what destroyed my race completely. Really frustrating. It goes without saying that making it to the podium and celebrating your success is great. But I’m happy as my performances were clearly more consistent this year and I often was able to fight for good positions.”

Misano pole in difficult conditions

At Misano, Italy, Duval experienced both his season highlight and low point. With his Sunday pole he made an end to the record streak of Mercedes-AMD who secured nine consecutive pole positions prior to this qualifying session. And he was Audi’s first pole-sitter in 2018. “That was really cool. But when you start into a race from pole you also want to make it to the podium. Therefore, I was extremely annoyed on Sunday evening.”

Apart from Dutchman Robin Frijns (50 positions), Duval also was the DTM driver who gained the biggest number of positions in the races compared to their positions on the grid: 37. “That’s an achievement you can regard as positive or negative. At the end of the day it means that you failed to deliver in the qualifying sessions but did clearly better in the races. Altogether, my qualifying laps weren’t good this year – but we were able to match the pace in the races. It would be really great if I would be able to improve the one and retain the other.”

The accident of René Rast was a low point

The Saturday of the Lausitzring meeting also proved to be a dramatic experience for Duval as he involuntarily was involved in a spectacular crash. At first his Audi RS5 DTM touched the one of fellow Audi driver René Rast, the latter’s car, #33, went off and rolled over. But despite all the fears, Rast got of lightly. The car was a total write-off but he gave the all-clear right away. “The contact with René’s car was very unfortunate. You really don’t want to see this kind of bad accidents in motor racing. Fortunately he survived the crash unharmed.”

Duval wasn’t booked a single time

From 2017 to 2018 underwent a Damascene conversion. In his rookie season, the Frenchman was DTM’s bad boy but in 2018 he changed completely. In 2017 he had less points on his tally than anybody else but at the same time more bookings than any of his opponents. The DTM newbie received a total of six bookings – for different offenses. For instance for driving on the working lane or for ignoring a blue flag. This season, however, he was one of just three drivers – with the others being Gary Paffett and Bruno Spengler – who didn’t receive a single booking. “I was a good guy,” he says laughing. “That was really enjoyable, particularly in consideration of the fact that I received so many bookings in my debut year. Our cars always touch one another. You don’t want to push anybody off the track but it happens every now and then. You have to take risks and occasionally things go wrong. I had a clean year and I hope I will continue like this. Penalties never are nice.”

Duval is confident regarding the things to come. With the new technical regulations (“Class 1”), DTM starts into a new era, next year. The Frenchman believes that Audi – who finished third in the manufacturers’ championship, last year – are well prepared for the things to come. “2017 was a great year with great results for Audi,” he stresses. “2018 was more difficult for us but we improved as group. In summer, nobody expected René to become vice-champion. Now we have to keep on improving our car in the off-season. At the same time we have to retain our ‘Never-give-up’ mindset. Should we succeed in doing so we may look forward to a brilliant season.”

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