DTM gets first taste of Holland’s ‘Cathedral of Speed’
You don’t name your circuit ‘the cathedral of speed’ unless you have major delusions of grandeur… or your track is indeed a fast one.
Luckily, for Assen, the latter is very much the case – as 2012 DTM champion Bruno Spengler discovered at a pre-race media event ahead of the Dutch round of the DTM, which takes place on July 19-21.
Assen is a quick track (in fact, it hosts the fastest corner of the DTM season – Ram Hoek, a 265km/h, sixth-gear left-hander, and Spengler thinks its high-speed nature will be a unique challenge for the drivers.
“I only did about three or four laps today, not a lot,” said the Canadian. “But this place is impressive: it’s very quick, with some super-fast corners. I think it’s going to be a real challenge to set the car up, because the first part of the circuit is quite slow, a little bit like the first-corner complex at Shanghai; a long, tightening right into a low-speed left-hander.
“That’s interesting, and means you’re going to need a little bit of everything from the car: downforce, mechanical grip. I’m looking forward to coming here with the race cars – it’s going to be fun. There’s lots of run-off, which is important for a fast track.
“I wanted to drive more laps!”
A very special guest
Spengler may have only been running ‘taxi-ride’ laps in his BMW M4 DTM, but his first impressions were extremely positive. The Canadian was at Assen to provide tutelage to a very special guest – Yamaha SRT MotoGP rider Franco Morbidelli.
DTM has become increasingly friendly with the motorcycle world championship – after Ducati star Andrea Dovizioso’s impressive guest drive at Misano in June, and Valentino Rossi’s stated intention to appear as a guest driver, it was the turn of the 24-year-old Italian to get behind the wheel for a handful of exploratory laps in a two-seater DTM race-taxi.
“I loved the way Bruno approached Turn Six,” said Morbidelli. “In a car, it’s another world compared to a MotoGP bike. You go in much faster, and I bet he still had a lot of margin as it was only his second-ever lap. But that already impressed me a lot.”
“Franco only did two laps, but he was improving all the time, corner by corner,” added Spengler. “I was giving him tips as we drove round, and he was immediately able to adapt. He learned the car so quickly. He was very focused – he wasn’t pushing too much, he was just feeling the car beneath him through each corner. It was cool to sit next to him – it was really interesting.”
DTM gears up for Assen race
Spengler may have gingerly sat on a MotoGP bike in the Assen paddock – largely for the benefit of the attendant photographers –but was keen to stress that he’s less keen to trial a grand prix bike at race speeds.
Were it to ever happen, Morbidelli offered some solid advice: “He should take it easy at the beginning. Try to take it step by step – basically, the same advice he gave me!”
Thursday’s car-share was just the first shared venture between DTM and MotoGP at Assen: for the remainder of the Dutch TT weekend: Moto2 rider Lukas Tulovic’s KTM bike will feature DTM branding on the cockpit fairing, promoting the arrival of the touring car race next month.