The weekend’s racing took place on the short version of the Nürburgring Grand Prix circuit. A place where you’d perhaps think the Audis would hold the advantage, but after the three qualifying sessions, it was the McLarens who locked out the front row… or did they?
The two Nissans went out first after both having miserable practice sessions where they finished 26th and 34th respectively. The good news for them was that they improved. The bad news was that it wasn’t by a huge amount. Mitsonuri Takaboshi set the quickest lap out of the two with a 1:27.493 – good enough to put him in P13.
Elsewhere, Andy Soucek in the #8 Bentley managed to improve his time to 1:27.368 despite being held up by Stuart Leonard for what could’ve proven to be a detrimental spell in the lap. It was enough to send him top of the charts temporarily, but then Dominik Baumann in the #84 HTP Mercedes pipped him by 0.009s. Baumann himself being held up by Takaboshi.
Towards the end of the session, Norbert Siedler put in a significantly quicker 1:27.102, which until Nico Müller – fresh from his first ever DTM win at the Norisring – showed his hand, was the fastest lap. Müller’s #4 Audi went top of the timing sheets with a 1:27.026 to ensure he and young Dries Vanthoor were the ones to best in Q2.
The first time to be set was that of Sergio Jimenez in the #3 Audi, but almost immediately Côme Ledogar in the #59 McLaren jumped him. René Rast the set the ball rolling on a short, dominant spell for Audi as he jumped up to P2 with a 1:27.046. He wasn’t second for long though, as his WRT teammate Laurens Vanthoor took us into the 1:26 region for the first time with a 1:26.927. On the very next lap he beat that again by over a quarter of a second as he registered two purple sectors and despite a slightly slower third, he finished the lap with a very impressive 1:26.604.
Filipe Salaquarda made it an Audi 1-2-3-4 but it didn’t last long and the rest of the field began to show their pace too. Mirko Bortolotti went P2 with a 1:27.028.
The decline for Audi had now begun and eventually it was McLaren who locked out the front row in Q2. Alvaro Parente put in a 1:26.363 to round of the session quickest ahead of Ledogar with a 1:26.433.
The best placed Audi was the #1 in P3.
Times didn’t improve dramatically overall in Q3 but we still saw improvements. McLaren improved enough to lock out the front row once more and will take up the first two positions on the grid for the qualifying race later today. We’ve got an all-German second row with the #33 of Enzo Ide and Christopher Miles – the latter fresh from victory in the VLN – in P3 ahead of the #84 HTP pairing of Dominik Baumann and Maxi Buhk.
One final twist in the tale though…