First DTM Points for GruppeM Racing at Monza
- GruppeM Racing scores points at season-opening round
- Daniel Juncadella 12th in second race of weekend
- Room for improvement after missing out on double top ten
Monza, Italy – Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing came away from its first-ever DTM round with championship points in the bag despite finishing outside the top ten in a tough second race of the weekend at Monza.
After taking fifth on the road in race one on Saturday, Daniel Juncadella was re-classified to sixth due to a time penalty. The amended result, combined with a front-row starting position, still gave the Spaniard and GruppeM Racing 10 points heading into the second day of competitive track action.
A close-knit qualifying session for Sunday's contest saw Juncadella post the ninth-fastest lap time, only 0.36 seconds shy of pole position. However, it meant the driver of the #8 Mercedes-AMG GT3 - who started second on Saturday - would be right in the middle of heavy traffic on the first run down to the Rettifilio chicane.
The lights-out at 1:33 p.m. was met with a sturdy getaway from Juncadella, who gained a position and kept his composure amid the mass of cars jostling for limited space over the first couple of laps.
The 2018 Brands Hatch DTM race winner battled for valuable points positions all the way through to the mandatory pit stops. GruppeM Racing elected to pit earlier than it did on Saturday, bringing Juncadella in for a new set of Michelin tyres after five laps.
Once the pit cycle had shaken out, Juncadella was running 16th but quickly set about clearing four of the cars that had moved ahead.
The closing stages saw Juncadella chase two other Mercedes-AMG GT3 drivers for a place in the top ten. Despite gaining ground and applying high pressure, Juncadella and the BWT-liveried GruppeM Racing car remained in 12th until the chequered flag.
After scoring points in the first race of the event, Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing left Monza knowing it had the potential to achieve much more in race two.
The Hong Kong-based outfit will head back to its European headquarters in Germany with clear objectives to assess the areas for improvement ahead of the next round at the Lausitzring on July 23-25.
Daniel Juncadella, Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing driver:> "Qualifying was a bit disappointing because a couple of cars went out of the pit lane right in front of me. So that compromised my best lap a bit. We were quite close to P3 before, but in the end it was P9. Then in the race, it was a similar story to yesterday. We were fine in the beginning and up to eighth. We pitted quite early to undercut everybody but lost six seconds in the pit lane compared to everyone. That compromised our race, and I dropped back to 16th but came back to 12th. There was not much more we could do today, unfortunately."
Kenny Chen, GruppeM Racing Team Owner: "A disappointing weekend. We are looking to have big improvements at the next race."