BMW M4 DTM racer Joel Eriksson won his first DTM race when the series visited the Misano circuit in Italy. The win for the 20-year-old DTM rookie came on the series’ first visit to Misano, where it ran its first-ever night races.
The legendary Alex Zanardi’s fifth-place finish in race two on Sunday night, the race that Eriksson won, was another highlight of the event for BMW. BMW built a car that Zanardi could operate with hand controls, enabling him to run for the first time without his artificial legs.
In race one on Saturday night Timo Glock, Philipp Eng and Marco Wittmann scored points for BMW, finishing seventh through ninth in a race won by Mercedes’ Paul di Resta. The track was drying at the start of the race, but most racers started on wet weather tires. BMW racers Augusto Farfus and Bruno Spengler were among the few who started on slicks. They moved to the front early in the race, but dropped back over the race’s two safety car periods. Farfus finished eleventh, ahead of Eriksson and Zanardi, while Spengler retired after a collision.
Eriksson was the only racer to start race two on slicks on a wet circuit. He fell back at first, but moved up as the track dried and other racers came in for slicks. But the rain returned, forcing many racers to make a second stop. Eriksson took on rain tires on his well-timed single stop, moved up in the pack, and took the lead with five laps remaining in the race. He held off Mercedes’ Edoardo Mortara to secure the win. Audi’s René Rast was third. Zanardi, in fifth, was the second BMW in the final standings, but as his visit to Misano was a one-time appearance in DTM he was unable to score points. Spengler, who finished eleventh on the circuit, was elevated to tenth and awarded a single point.
BMW motorsport director Jens Marquardt said, “I am unbelievably proud of Joel. Congratulations on the first DTM win! At just 20 years of age, he is the second-youngest DTM winner of all time. We’re going to celebrate that now. For Alex Zanardi, a 51-year-old, to finish the same race in fifth is just incredible. He did a great job throughout the whole weekend. We were not rewarded for our brave strategy yesterday but today we had that little bit of luck on our side. It wasn’t supposed to rain at all during the race but the forecast was well off the mark. That made it a pretty chaotic race – and it ended well for us. It’s a shame that more of our drivers were unable to follow Joel and Alex into the top ten. Nonetheless, we will try to take this momentum with us to the Nürburgring.”
The DTM Nürburgring Event will be run on September 7-9.