Molina on top as Audi shows strong team performance in second free practice
“For me, Friday is a good test day, but we all have to face a special challenge on Saturday,” Mattias Ekström said between first and second free practice at the Nürburgring. For the first time in this DTM season, both practice sessions were held on the first of the three days of a race meeting. At 16.15 hrs, the 24 drivers started into their second practice session. In weather conditions that were rather untypical for the Eifel – temperatures were quite mild throughout the Friday and rain stayed away in spite of clouds that got thicker – Mike Rockenfeller again was the first driver to go out for the 45 minutes’ session. After eleventh place in first free practice, the yellow and green Audi was now classified in fourth place (1:22.993 minutes). Generally, the lap times of the drivers in the afternoon were considerably faster than at lunch time: on average, the difference was around one second. Thus, Miguel Molina completed his fastest lap of the 3.629 kilometres long Nürburgring sprint circuit in 1:22.861 minutes and thus was even some 1.3 seconds faster than in first free practice. Paul Di Resta (1:22.904 minutes) ended up second with his Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM while Jamie Green (1:22.970 minutes) was third.
Second free practice proved once again in an impressive way how close the competition is in the DTM. Thus, Molina and the last driver, BMW’s TImo Glock, were less than one second apart. The winner of the race at Oschersleben on Saturday already wasn’t too optimistic after the first session, in which Glock was classified 22nd. “Of course, it is nice to start a race weekend boosted by a victory, but every circuit is different. Here, my feeling in the car hasn’t been very good so far.” Local hero Christian Vietoris also had high hopes coming to his home circuit, but failed to meet his own expectations early on Friday afternoon: “With 20th place, my start here wasn’t too good. After the last four races that were rather difficult, I have high hopes that the Nürburgring will be my turning point.” After the second session, the trend was at least positive: Vietoris posted a lap time of 1:23.072 minutes to end up ninth.
For BMW, second free practice was rather disappointing. In the earlier session, the brand from Munich still had five of its cars in the top ten, but later in the afternoon, 15th place for Tom Blomqvist (1:23.284 minutes) was the best result for the BMW squad. Audi, on the other hand, shone with six cars in the top ten. For Mercedes-Benz, next to Di Resta and Vietoris, Robert Wickens (fifth-fastest) and points’ leader Pascal Wehrlein (sixth place) made it into the first third of the field. For Wehrlein’s fiercest rival Mattias Ekström, who was fastest in first free practice, tenth place was all that was left in the second session. The Swede’s goal, however, is clear: “I want to make up points on Pascal. Tomorrow, there are no further possibilities for testing. I am curious to find out how things are going. Getting up, having breakfast and then going straight into qualifying can mix up some things.” Whether the Swede is right will become clear on Saturday from 10.15 hrs. Drivers have 20 minutes to post a fast lap time in order to secure a good starting grid position for the first race that starts at 13.25 hrs.