Sensational last-gasp Brands pole for Marco Wittmann
At a drying Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit, BMW driver Marco Wittmann claimed a sensational last-minute pole position for the first of two DTM races at Brands Hatch. The German set a best time of 1m15.654s in his BMW M4 DTM as the whole field capitalised on a damp-but-drying track to switch from wet-weather to slick tyres for the session’s fastest times.
For Wittmann, it was his fourth pole of the season and the 14th of his DTM career. “In these mixed conditions, it was definitely one of the most difficult qualifying sessions we’ve had in a long time,” said Wittmann. “Initially, it was wet, but somewhere between rain tyres and slicks: it was never clear what the right choice would be. But, as the track dried out more and more, it was clear that slicks were the tyres to have. Then, it was just a matter of getting the lap-time in. Luckily, it worked out in the end.”
The leader in the driver’ standings, Audi’s René Rast, was the first driver to post a sub-1m16s lap time and looked set for pole position with three minutes remaining, until Wittmann went even faster, just 10 seconds before the chequered flag fell.
Despite missing out, Rast was happy with his performance. “Definitely a tricky one,” the German reported. “We started on rain tyres, then changed to slicks. I am happy with the two points for the championship. With one of my main rivals, Marco Wittmann, right next to me, it is going to be an interesting race!”
Di Resta puts Aston on second row
Behind Audi’s Loïc Duval in third, Paul Di Resta, a winner at Brands Hatch last year, posted the best qualifying result for R-Motorsport Aston Martin, lining up fourth. After the Scot’s third place in qualifying the opening race at Hockenheim, it is the second time this season that an Aston Martin starts from the second row of the grid.
Audi driver Robin Frijns qualified fifth, ahead of BMW’s Sheldon van der Linde. Jake Dennis, who topped the time sheets for quite a while, ended up seventh with his Aston Martin. Behind Nico Müller (Audi) and Timo Glock (BMW) in eighth and ninth, Dani Juncadella was classified tenth – making it three R-Motorsport Aston Martins in the top 10.
Big shunt for Fittipaldi
Qualifying was interrupted with red flags after Pietro Fittipaldi crashed heavily at Paddock Hill Bend. He got out of the car by himself, but was taken to the medical centre for examination. The Armco barriers had to be repaired, with action resuming after 20 minutes. On the same lap as his team-mate’s crash, his team-mate Jonathan Aberdein also hit the tyre stacks coming out of Clearways, but with significantly less damage.
Earlier in the morning, Robin Frijns had come out on top in the weekend’s only free practice session with a time of 1m16.318s. Meaningful lap times could only be set in the first 20 minutes. After that, a downpour prevented any further improvements. The only incident was Ferdinand Habsburg’s Aston Martin getting stuck in the gravel bed at Druids. A slow zone was put in place to allow for the beached car to be recovered.