Eng: I can battle it out with the bigger boys”
For Philipp Eng, Joel Eriksson and Robin Frijns, the Lausitzring proved to be a good place. Each of the three rookies experienced their individual moments of success, in the Lausitz region. On different levels. Austria’s Philipp Eng was the most successful of the three by making for two premieres: a podium on Saturday and the pole on Sunday were his outstanding achievements in the Lausitzring race meeting. Meanwhile, Sweden’s Joel Eriksson already secured his second top-10 result in the season – and Dutchman Robin Frijns finally scored his first championship point, in his fourth DTM race on Sunday.
“I was quite a good lap,” Eng said after having secured the first pole in his still short DTM career by outqualifying Pascal Wehrlein by 16 thousands of a second. “I made a minor mistake while exiting turn nine. The car was absolutely at the limit and got slightly airborne. That cost me a 10th of a second but fortunately, the lap was fast enough, nevertheless.” The BMW driver already delivered on Saturday by qualifying second behind his compatriot, Mercedes-AMG driver Lucas Auer – to finish third in the race, thus also clinching his first DTM podium.
Lesson for Eng in the Sunday race
On Sunday, however, the 28-year old dropped back from the pole to finish seventh. He was passed by three of his rivals in the early stages of the race: On lap four, the pole-sitter was overtaken by Gary Paffett and Pascal Wehrlein and two laps later, fellow BMW driver Marco Wittmann also passed the Austrian. “The race result wasn’t fully pleasing. I always dropped out of the DRS window, in the early stages,” admits Eng. “That’s crucial at the Lausitzring as the circuit features these long straights. On the second lap my chasers could use the DRS on, they closed in on me in turn 13 and then they could again activate the DRS between turn six and turn eight and another time at the exit of the final corner. The effect is massive. When I was passed I had no chance of activating the DRS as the gap was too big right away. Here I was taught a lesson. Afterwards it was a tough race.”
Despite having left Hockenheim empty-handed, the likeable Austrian now already holds eighth position in the championship. “A really great weekend,” he beams. “I scored 28 points at the Lausitzring and if anybody had predicted that I would do so I had said: ‘Lovely’. I never dreamed about doing so well and this result demonstrates that I have got what it takes to play with the bigger boys.”
Two top-10 results for Eriksson
Meanwhile, Joel Eriksson already caused a stir in the Sunday race at Hockenheim. The DTM newcomer who displays a very matured and smart approach despite being just 19 years old qualified third for the Sunday round of the Hockenheim meeting and finished fourth in the race. And by coming ninth in the Sunday race at the Lausitzring, the Swede confirmed his positive development.
“My first DTM race at Hockenheim proved to be difficult for me. The second race was somewhat astounding. I came really close to making it to the podium. The entire performance was really good. Here at the Lausitzring, however, I struggled with the tyres. In the Sunday race my pace was good and I had some great overtaking manoeuvres. It was a tough race. I was pushed aside by Edoardo Mortara twice and think both his bookings were justified,” said the BMW driver who came to a positive conclusions following his first two DTM weekends. “I always set myself ambitious goals. I felt far more comfortable here than at Hockenheim. Should I get my act together at Budapest I also will add clearly more point s to my tally, there. After all, I always did well at the Hungaroring,” added Eríksson who now holds 11th position in the championship with 11 points on his tally.
Frijns scores his first point in race four
Robin Frijns also celebrated a small success in the Sunday race at the Lausitzring. Having finished 18th and 12th at the Hockenheimring and 13th in the Sunday race at Klettwitz, the Dutchman scored his first DTM point on Sunday in the Lausitz region. “I had some battles that were really big fun. Of course it is nice to now have my first championship on my tally but finishing 10th isn’t my goal,” said the Dutch Audi driver who currently still is struggling in particular with a lack of speed in qualifying. “That’s my basic problem. In the races, my pace more often than not is quite alright but when you are standing at the end of the grid as you failed to deliver in the qualifying session, securing a good result is extremely difficult.”
The 26-year old also still has got his problems with the reduced downforce of the DTM cars due to the altered regulations. “Basically, the reduced downforce of the DTM cars represents a problem for me. Cars with a lot of downforce always suited me better. But the situation is the same for everybody and so, I have to cope with it.”