BMW Team Schnitzer driver, Bruno Spengler, won yesterday’s DTM finale at Hockenheim and in so doing clinched the 2012 DTM drivers title ahead of Mercedes driver Gary Paffett, who also finished second in yesterday’s race.
It was a disappointing weekend for Paffett, who had led the standings from the first race of the year right through to the final event – missing out on the title by just four points. The Englishman held a three-point lead over Bruno Spengler going into the closing race weekend, having scored points in nine out of the ten races on the calendar.
But it was BMW’s weekend, with team mate Augusto Farfus securing pole position on Saturday.
It all boiled down to a brilliant start by the French-Canadian, who moved into the lead on lap one, and then held his nerve as Paffett tried but failed to catch and overtake the BMW driver.
It was Spengler’s fourth win of the season, making him the fourth driver to clinch the DTM title in a BMW – following Volker Strycek (1984), Eric van de Poele (1987) and Roberto Ravaglia (1989).
In the manufacturers’ championship, BMW ended its comeback season in the DTM at the top of the championship on 346 points, ahead of Audi (335 points) and Mercedes-Benz (329 points). Spengler, Farfus, Werner, Priaulx and Hand all finished in the points in Hockenheim and together picked up 60 points – enough to clinch the manufacturers’ title, despite BMW lining up with just six drivers, while its rivals from Mercedes and Audi fielded eight cars at each race.
Spengler’s BMW Team Schnitzer also finished the year heading the team standings, making it a clean sweep for BMW in all three championships.
It was a bittersweet moment for Spengler, who up until this season had been a Mercedes driver and team mate of Paffett, “I can hardly believe we have won the title with BMW in our first year back in the DTM. Congratulations to my rival Gary Paffett, who performed brilliantly throughout the entire season and put up a fair fight. He would also have been a worthy champion. He is a great sportsman. He put me under a lot of pressure in the final race today. I spent a lot of time looking in the rear-view mirror and he just kept getting closer. However, I was able to maintain my pace and close the race out. My pulse was really racing.”
Paffett said after the race, “My team has done brilliantly well this season in terms of performance and it is very unfortunate that we missed winning the championship title in the last race by four points. So in the immediate aftermath of the race, disappointment sits deep, of course, because from my point of view we deserved to win the championship title just as much as Bruno Spengler and BMW. Congratulations to Bruno on his first DTM title! We will go on the attack again next year to take the championship.”
In the driver’s championship, Mercedes claimed second and third places with Paffett and fellow-Briton Jamie Green, while Audi completed the top six with Mike Rockenfeller, Edoardo Mortara and Mattias Ekström.