Philipp Eng: „They all are fighting dogs“
For the first time since the late 1980s, the days of Franz Klammer and Dieter Quester, the DTM grid features two Austrians: Lucas Auer and Philipp Eng – the jokesters of the touring-car series. They both are really skilled when it comes to the special Viennese sense of humour. Both are fast and both hold top-10 positions in the championship. Nonetheless, their contacts are extremely limited – even on a DTM weekend.
“We get on well with one another and I have respect for his motor-racing performances. He is an extremely fast and extremely gifted racing driver. On a DTM weekend we actually only meet in the mixed zone or in the driver briefings. There you shake hands, say hallo and ask: ‘How’s it going?’ Our schedules are so tight, we just haven’t got the time,” reveals Eng. So, coincidence has to become a factor. “The last time we met so far was in the London airport. There we had breakfast and talked with one another,” said the BMW driver who contests his DTM rookie season but nearly delivers on the same level as his more experienced compatriot. „They both scored 10 points in the qualifying sessions and secured five top-three qualifying positions. Auer clinched two poles, Eng one – on Sunday at the Lausitzring. Auer celebrated four podiums, Eng two – by coming third at the Lausitzring and Budapest. And they have got something else in common: they both still are waiting for their first win in 2018.
Eng hopes for many red and white flags
And just now, DTM will make its stop in the Alps Republic. Never in the history of the series, an Austrian won a race at the Red Bull Ring. “That would be just perfect. A win in the final four races would be nice, and perhaps the one or the other podium – if possible at the Red Bull Ring. I’d love to be the first Austrian to achieve this goal,” admits Eng. “I’m looking forward to the circuit. With all the fast corners in the second and third sectors it will represent a cool challenge. A DTM car allows you to brake late. I already successfully raced there in the ADAC GT Cup and the Porsche makes cups. It’s not only a very good circuit but the facilities also are really beautiful. The ambience is special and I hope that a lot of red and white flags will be waved by the visitors.”
Possible qualifying traffic jams, wheel spin at the start
With 92 points on his tally, the native Salzburger holds ninth position in the championship. The Sunday of the Nürburgring meeting was somewhat symptomatic for Eng’s season so far. He held the provisional pole after the first qualifying stint and qualified third in the end. “You have to opt for a farsighted approach in the qualifying sessions. We do the out-lap, two so-called build-up laps and then the push-laps. In the first stint I had no cars in front of me and behind me within six seconds. Therefore, I could manage my tyres without having to be considerate of other drivers. This wasn’t the case in the second stint. I looked ahead to the chicane and there was a package of three or four cars. Therefore I had to decelerate as I otherwise would have entered a kind of a traffic jam. Consequently I didn’t get enough energy into the tyres and it wasn’t ready, in the final lap,” explains Eng who had to settle for dropping back from third to ninth position on lap one and finished eight, in the end. “My start was poor. I had too much wheelspin and that makes an impact on your entire first lap. You just haven’t got the chance of driving into the gaps. Then I was two or three times in unfavourable positions, in the first corners. And so you lose position by position. There’s no mercy.”
But in the first 16 races Eng demonstrated again and again that he has got what it takes – as he says – “To play with the bigger boys.” Now he needs just has to make for the icing on the cake, in the final four rounds of the season. “To date things look rather promising. I secured a lot of good grid positions as my pace uses to be particularly competitive in the qualifying sessions. But I often failed to make optimum use of these positions. In the races we often had problems to keep the tyres competitive over the distance. The points, the trophies and the Champagne are secured in the race. No we have to up the ante at the Nürburgring.”