For the first time in his DTM career, Joel Eriksson was able to celebrate from the top step of the winners’ podium. In a turbulent 14th DTM race of the season, the BMW driver from Sweden scored his maiden victory in the popular touring car series.
In the second night race at Misano, the Swede won from Edoardo Mortara with a Mercedes-AMG and René Rast with an Audi. Overwhelmed by his emotions, Eriksson expressed his feelings on the radio: “This is unbelievable. Since I was a kid, I have been dreaming of winning a race in the DTM. I am lost for words.”
DTM guest starter Alex Zanardi also showed an admirable performance. The driver with amputated legs who raced a specially adapted BMW M4 DTM at Misano (pictured below) kept a clear view in difficult conditions and sensationally finished fifth.
On his way to the first DTM race win of his career, Eriksson benefited from an audacious, yet successful tire strategy: Unlike all the other drivers, he started the race with slick tires. As a result, he temporarily dropped back to 18th place, but then changed to rain tires at exactly the right time as the safety car was deployed one lap later following a spin by Lucas Auer. Thus, the 20-year-old built up an advantage that was to last until the end.
“A really tough race. Starting with slicks was a risk,” he said. “Initially, I just wanted to survive. Then the rain set in and it was difficult to keep the car on the track. I didn’t know in which position I was. As a result, I am even happier that it was enough for the win.”
Next to rookie driver Eriksson, there was yet another novice who was more than happy with his result: Zanardi.
“In some parts of the race, my speed was okay, but I was worried as I didn’t want to get into the way of anyone. Thanks to the DTM family for welcoming me as a 51-year-old rookie in an incomparable way. I can hardly wait to go and have a beer and celebrate with my team now,” Zanardi summed up his DTM weekend. As he is not eligible to score points as a guest driver, the following drivers automatically move up in the points’ standings.
Paul Di Resta, sixth in the race and fifth in the classification with an additional ten points to his tally following his win on the previous day, moved up into the lead of the drivers’ standings from his fellow Mercedes-AMG driver Gary Paffett, who again didn’t score any points in the race on Sunday.
“We made the weekend difficult for ourselves. The car was super, but many things happened around me that we now have to analyse. It wasn’t the first rain race in the DTM, so that is no excuse. I wanted to score points, but I didn’t manage to do so,” a disappointed Paffett, the 2005 DTM champion, said.
Since the Saturday race at the Norisring, Paffett had been leading the drivers’ standings. Misano was a weekend to forget for the Brit; on Sunday, a messed-up pit stop in which initially the wrong rain tires were fitted onto his car cost valuable time. After that, there was a collision with his fellow Mercedes-AMG driver Daniel Juncadella.
In a fortnight, the DTM will be racing at the Nürburgring. There, the 15th and 16th race of the season will be held there from 7-9 September. Di Resta is heading to the Eifel region as the new championship leader with 186 points. Paffett is second with 177 points from Mortara (138). Marco Wittmann is the best-placed BMW driver in fourth with 112 points from Auer (110) and his fellow BMW driver Timo Glock (107).