Mercedes racer Dani Juncadella took his maiden DTM win at Brands Hatch this afternoon, but had to come from behind to do it.
Augusto Farfus secured his first podium of the season, ahead of Lucas Auer (Mercedes).
From pole, the Spaniard Juncadella initially lost the lead to teammate Auer and Audi man Rene Rast, dropping to 3rd just ahead of BMW duo Philipp Eng and Farfus.
Juncadella didn’t need to wait long to claim 2nd spot, when Rast pulled into the pits immediately at the end of lap one, as did Timo Glock, Bruno Spengler (both BMW), the Mercedes of Paul di Resta and Robin Frijns and Loïc Duval (more Audi’s).
An off for Duval exiting the pits (see below), meant a slow zone through sector one, allowing Juncadella to keep Auer in sight; however when 3rd place Farfus pitted on lap six, Juncadella pushed hard to stay ahead of his Brazilian rival, before he too stopped on the eighth tour.
Juncadella made the best of his outlaps from the pits, reducing the gap to Auer – so much so that the Spaniard was right on the tail of his Mercedes stablemate.
A dive down the inside of Auer into Paddock Hill Bend destabilised the Austrian, allowing Juncadella to slide by and solidify the effective lead. With Auer wrong-footed, Farfus too pushed by the Mercedes exiting Graham Hill Bend.
Juncadella would eventually retake the lead once Edo Mortara and Pascal Wehrlein pitted on laps twelve and sixteen respectively, with Farfus and Auer moving up to 2nd and 3rd respectively.
From there, the Mercedes racer controlled the pace and the race to secure not just first DTM victory, but also his first win of any kind on British soil.
After passing Auer exiting the pits, Farfus slotted into a relatively unchallenged 2nd place and brought his BMW machine home 7.8s adrift of the winning pilot. Once settled into a rhythm, Auer held steady in the face of pressure from Rast and began to close in on Farfus to challenge the Brazilian, but Auer’s charge halted once he was within three seconds of Farfus.
Rast also dropped some 4.8s off of the podium, but finished well ahead of Eng who pressed the 4th placed man for a short time, before also dropping away. Indeed Eng spent the final quarter of the race keeping championship leader Gary Paffett behind. While on paper only 6th position, it was a result that allowed the Briton to extend his lead over Paul di Resta – a non-scorer today.
Wehrlein suffered a slow stop thanks to a stuck right rear tyre, losing the former champion several positions. He too would close in on Paffett, but ran out of laps to press Paffett in any significant way.
Mortara took 8th place ahead of double champion Marco Wittmann, but there was real fight for the final points position. With Glock losing pace in the latter part of the race, Robin Frijns went wheel-to-wheel with the ex-Formula One driver in Paddock Hill Bend for 10th. Then as the field poured around the back end of the circuit, Jamie Green got a run on Glock down Pilgrim’s Drop, only for Mike Rockenfeller to draft both and take 11th place.
On the final lap, Rocky stole the final points spot from Frijns, with the destabilised Frijns then also falling behind Green.
Glock ended the day a disappointing 13th, ahead of Joel Eriksson (BMW), Nico Müller (Audi), di Resta (Mercedes) and Spengler (BMW).
The race lasted only a lap and two corners for Duval, whose poor season continued in embarrassing fashion when he went off at Druids on his first tour from the pits.