Traditionally a challenge: DTM returns to Brands Hatch
After a four-year break, Brands Hatch is back on the DTM calendar. The circuit located in Kent County is regarded as a challenging old-school racetrack. Brands Hatch already staged eight DTM races from 2006 to 2013 but all these races were held on the 1.973-kilometre Indy circuit. On 11th and 12th August, however, the DTM drivers have to demonstrate their skills on the 3.908-kilometre GP circuit. Empirical values are rare and so, the start into the second half of the season represents a major challenge for teams and drivers in equal measures.
To make things even more difficult, the schedule is tight. Other than in the other nine DTM race meetings of the 2018 season, the race action at the tradition-rich circuit won’t be contested on three but on just two days. Due to the noise restrictions around the GP circuit, the usual Friday practice session has to be omitted. Therefore, the Saturday schedule comprises two 25-minute practice sessions on early Saturday morning and 80 minutes later, the field will go out to secure the best possible grid positions for race one in the Saturday qualifying session. And on Sunday, teams and drivers will have just one 20-minute practice session to prepare for the qualifying session and the race. So, finding a good setup – particularly on Saturday – will be a tough battle against the time. Altogether, the three practice sessions, the two qualifying sessions and the two races will be contested within just 29.5 hours.
“Brands Hatch will be a difficult weekend,” says championship leader Gary Paffett. “It’s my home circuit but I haven’t raced there very often. On the other hand this applies to the majority of the DTM drivers. We don’t know the circuit very well but there won’t be a Friday practice session. After all, we never raced on the GP circuit with DTM cars. It will be tough but I’m confident that we will have a good car. I hope that we will be able to secure some good results.” With 148 points, the Briton currently holds the championship lead, followed by fellow Mercedes-AMG driver Paul Di Resta (121) and BMW’s Timo Glock (101). The local heroes know how sweet it tastes to win at Brands Hatch. Di Resta won there in 2009 and 2010, Paffett in 2012.
High cornering speed extremely demanding for man and material
The Brands Hatch rollercoaster features several fast right-handers that are particularly demanding for the left front tyres of the cars. Corners with renowned names, such as Paddock Hill Bend, Hawthorn Bend, Westfield Bend or Clark Curve, command the drivers’ respect. According to the simulation, all the bends in the woods are cornered at more than 170kph. At the fastest spot of the circuit, prior to braking for the Hawthorns Bend, the cars are accelerated with opened DRS to about 250kph. While they have to be decelerated to just 75kph for the Druids hairpin.
BMW’s DTM rookie Philipp Eng and Mercedes driver Daniel Juncadella already raced on the GP circuit. “I know the circuit as I raced there last year with a BMW M6 GT3 in the Blancpain GT Series,” admits the Austrian. “Brands Hatch is like a small Nürburgring Nordschleife. When you leave the Indy circuit it feels as if you are about to race on another circuit. Particularly back there in the woods, when you approach the right-hander, you really need courage. There are a lot of blind corners, particularly in the second sector.”
For Audi’s Jamie Green, the race meeting at Brands Hatch is his home meeting. With just 11 points on his tally, the Briton currently is last in the championship. But the DTM old-hand hopes to be able to turn the table, in his home county. “The GP circuit is an old-school racetrack with many fast, long bends, slightly like Zandvoort,” says the local hero. “This will be exciting for us drivers, a true high-speed challenge. I haven’t won a DTM race, in my home country, and it would be great if I’d succeed in doing so this year.”
Multifaceted support programme
In addition to the DTM race action, the visitors are provided further highlights, in the Brands Hatch support programme. John McGuiness, the ‘King of the Mountain’, will entertain the crowds with demonstration laps on his spectacular Norton SG7 motorbike. The 46-year old won the ‘Isle of Man Tourist Trophy’, the most famous and dangerous motorbike race in the world, incredible 23 times. More race action will be provided by the Audi Sport Seyffarth R8 LMS Cup and the MINI Challenge. And with the Arrows FA13b and the Dallara F191, two historic Formula One single-seaters will wow the crowds with demo laps both on Saturday and Sunday.
DTM will race at Brands Hatch from 11th to 12th August. Tickets are available online at www.dtm.com/tickets. The two DTM rounds at Brands Hatch will be covered by DTM.com and the official DTM App, where all the practice and qualifying sessions as well as the races will be streamed live and free of charge.