New champion Mike Rockenfeller is on his way to becoming a major star in the DTM, according to his Phoenix Racing team boss Ernst Moser.
Audi racer Rockenfeller wrapped up the 2013 title at Zandvoort last weekend with a second-placed finish that put the championship beyond the reach of rival Augusto Farfus. Moser’s squad has now won two drivers’ titles in three years after Martin Tomczyk’s 2011 success in an old-spec Audi A4.
The team chief was quick to praise Rockenfeller, who also has 24-hour victories at Le Mans, Daytona and the Nurburgring to his name, as well as titles in FIA GT2 and the German Porsche Carrera Cup.
“Mike has done a wonderful job this year,” Moser said. “Whenever things have been good for a weekend, he’s really got the job done and been in with a chance to win. But when he’s on the back foot, he’s been even better.
“I think the team must take a lot of credit for some of the strategies we’ve used this year with the option tires and the pit stops. But you still have to be on your best form to take advantage of the situation, and that’s been Mike this year.”
Moser said that Rockenfeller, who scaled back his sports car commitments at the start of 2012 in order to focus on the DTM, could soon be counted among the championship’s greats if he can continue his current form over the next few seasons.
“If you can win one DTM championship, you can win many, even though you can see from history that this is very difficult,” Moser added. “You look at the guys that are legends, even current drivers like Mattias Ekstrom and Gary Paffett, but then the guys from before like Bernd Schneider. Mike is a fantastic driver and if he wants to be in the DTM for many years I think he could win many championships like they did.”
Rockenfeller’s second place at Zandvoort, coupled with teammate Miguel Molina’s 10th spot, means that Phoenix leads the teams’ championship by three points from Farfus’s RBM BMW team with the Hockenheim finale to come.