Fighting Fifth for GruppeM Racing on DTM Debut
- Top-five result in first DTM race for GruppeM Racing
- Front-row grid start for Mercedes-AMG's Daniel Juncadella
- Monza race action continues on Sunday
Monza, Italy – Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing announced itself in the DTM with an impressive fifth-place result for Daniel Juncadella on the team’s series debut.
The experienced Mercedes-AMG GT3 outfit made an instant impression in qualifying on Saturday morning when Juncadella filed two late improvements to claim second on the grid.
GruppeM Racing then applied the masses of race setup data it collected during pre-season testing and Free Practice to continue with a front-running package heading into the 50-minute contest, which got underway just after 1:30 p.m.
Juncadella made an expert start, hustling the pole-sitting Mercedes-AMG GT3 into the Rettifilio chicane before slotting in behind and tracking over the next few minutes.
The top two were inseparable through the opening 10 laps, until the leader peeled off into the pits for his mandatory stop which handed the track position advantage to Juncadella and Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing.
Juncadella continued for another lap before pitting for a fresh set of Michelin tyres. A slightly slower-than-intended service saw the #8 Mercedes-AMG GT3 return to the track just outside the top five, and in the thick of a tense battle involving several cars.
Net sixth place came with an overtake early in the second stint, giving Juncadella a shot at the top five and 10 championship points in addition to the two he earned in qualifying.
Slight contact in the duel for fifth resulted in a five-second penalty that would be added after the chequered flag. The GruppeM pit box relayed this information to Juncadella, who duly reeled off a succession of rapid lap times to establish enough of a margin to the car behind so that he could secure his on-the-road fifth place.
Despite missing out on the podium, a strong qualifying performance coupled with excellent race pace sent out promising signals from the Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing camp. The Hong Kong-based squad will be determined to carry its momentum into Sunday’s 20-minute qualifying session starting at 10:10 a.m.
Race two of the Monza weekend gets underway at 1:33 p.m. (times CEST).
Andy Smith, GruppeM Racing COO: "After a good qualifying session, the race was a slight disappointment to us. The pace was there, and Dani did a great job. But a very slightly slow pit stop sent us back out in traffic, which cost us the podium today. Nevertheless, P5 was still a great result for the team and we look forward to further improve tomorrow."
Daniel Juncadella, Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing Driver: “It was a good first day overall. I was happy with quali: we missed pole by just six hundredths which is not a lot. And then for the race we had really strong pace in the beginning. I thought I was faster than the leader, but it was difficult to overtake so I just had to make it to the pits properly. Unfortunately we lost five or six seconds in the pit stop, so we couldn’t really get it back. We dropped to seventh, and then I could go back to fifth. I think that was pretty much the maximum we could get today. Tomorrow is another day and another chance to work on our little details. We know the car is strong, so hopefully we can go a bit better and finish the weekend strong."