The TT Circuit Assen is a new one for me. Known primarily as a motorcycle track, one is met by a large sign on the way to the paddock declaring Assen to the be Cathedral of Speed.
It is a warranted designation. On a motorbike at full pelt, I can imagine that this is might be something of a daunting venue, but for DTM and its catalogue of high downforce, high speed – in comparison to Moto GP – tanks, the circuit is somewhat less daunting, but still challenging.
For many years, Zandvoort had been the base for any Dutch adventure, but with the machinations of Formula One ticking under the surface of the famed seaside venue, the winds of change were signalling.
From the heat of Friday, Saturday started bright, but come midday had turned windy, while trickles of mist took shape and began laying damp seeds. Within an hour, the weather had turned to the worse – hard rain is falling and falling harder.
So, it was a pleasant surprise that in spite of these conditions, there was a reasonable turn out for the DTM’s Saturday schedule. Not many people in the grand stands admittedly, but the foot traffic around the general admission areas is impressive and a great start for a new era of DTM in the Netherlands.
In the dry of Friday, BMW’s Marco Wittmann hadn’t fully shown his hand, but with qualifying taking place under much cooler conditions, the twice champion took charge and took pole, while Friday fast-man Robin Frijns – of Audi – was disqualified from his mid-pack position. With Frijns starting from the rear, Rene Rast assumed the mantle of leading Audi and will start from 2nd position.
Meanwhile, the R Motorsport-run Aston Martin Vantage’s continued to struggle in dry conditions, but have shown well in the damp and cooler climes, as long as tyre wear does not inhibit their progress.
But with the rain continuing to press had, now it remains to be seen if Wittmann can hold his lead…