The first Moscow Raceway winner was Mike Rockenfeller
In 2013, DTM stepped on virgin soil. The Moscow Raceway proved to be alien for the entire DTM fraternity. The debut in Russia, at the circuit of the renowned circuit architect Hermann Tilke, proved to be a minor adventure for all those involved. And so, the drivers travelled in a curious mood to the facility located at Wolokolamsk, some 70 kilometres to the north-west of Moscow.
The race meeting started in a weird way. Allegedly caused by no other than Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. The qualifying session had to be aborted as the rescue helicopter didn’t get the clearance to take off because the airplane of the President was expected to cross the air space over the circuit, at that point in time. Two years later, in 2015, the Russian DTM ace meeting as the venue of another weird incident: the Italian catering company that was supposed to ship the food for the BMW drivers and teams to Russia was stopped at the border. The 1.5 tons of food were confiscated to then be annihilated.
Just as it was the case for many years in Brands Hatch where DTM raced for many years on the short Indy layout, the DTM organisers also planned to race on a short version in Russia. The total length of the Moscow Raceway amounts to four kilometres but in the DTM debut season the races were contested on a shorter 2.5-kilometres version of the track. Consequently, there weren’t any experience values regarding the setup or strategy available for the third-shortest circuit on the 2013 DTM calendar. Mike Rockenfeller travelled to Russia as championship leader. The record of the Audi ace had been flawless in the season to date and still was when DTM left Russia. Rocky had scored in every race, won once and at the beginning of the second half of the season he held a tight lead over reigning champion Bruno Spengler.
45,000 thrilled spectators at the Moscow Raceway witnessed ‘Rocky’ celebrating his second win in the season. The podium was completed by Mattias Ekström (Audi) and Augusto Farfus (BMW). Rockenfeller used DTM’s Russia debut to clearly extend his championship lead. He arrived in Russia with a two-point lead and left the country with a 27-point lead over his toughest rival. “If you want to win the title you have to score as many points as possible,” said the race winner. “Therefore, winning this race was very important.”
The basis for Rockenfeller’s success was the pole position he secured in the qualifying session as overtaking on the short circuit wasn’t exactly easy – despite DRS and option tyres. The so-called option tyre of DTM’s exclusive tyre partner Hankook was made available in 2013 for the first time. It featured a softer compound than the standard tyre and so, it offered the possibility to improve your lap times – for a certain period of time – by up to 1.5 seconds. Every driver was provided one set of these tyres for the race tyres and had to use it once.
Other than Rockenfeller, Bruno Spengler encountered a weekend to forget. Having set a fastest lap time in a practice session and having qualified fourth, the Canadian’s race was virtually over on lap two when he collided with Miguel Molina. After the incident, the reigning champion complained about an undriveable car and in the end, he even had to cope with the disgrace to be lapped by Rockenfeller. He finished 19th and it was the first time that season that he had to leave a race venue empty-handed. “My race was done for,” Spengler said in a frustrated mood. “Some drivers have got a really unfair style of driving.”