Eighth Place for GruppeM Racing at the Nürburgring
- Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing eighth in race one
- Daniel Juncadella shows impressive qualifying pace
- Team hoping to push for more points in Sunday's encounter
Nürburgring, Germany – Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing returned to the DTM points as Daniel Juncadella finished eighth in an eventful opening race at the Nürburgring.
After missing out on the top ten at the previous round, the Hong Kong-based team came away from Saturday’s 40-lap contest with four more championship points.
Despite earning a single-digit result, there was an accompanying sense that even more could have been achieved, considering Juncadella qualified on the second row of the grid with a blistering time of 1m 26.344.
At the start, he advanced GruppeM Racing’s #8 Mercedes-AMG GT3 up to third position, making a brilliant pass around the outside at the Turn 2 left-hander.
The safety car was then brought out after a single lap due to a stationary vehicle and retreated at the end of lap three.
When racing resumed, Juncadella was shuffled back to sixth in a closely bunched pack, and remained there for a few laps until the front-runners of the 23-car field came in for their mandatory pit stops.
Juncadella pitted at the end of lap 10. During the stop, a car entering its pit box in front struck a GruppeM Racing crew member, who was later taken to hospital.
The time delay caused by this incident saw the #8 Mercedes-AMG GT3 emerge from the pits in 14th, with four competitors ahead still yet to make a stop.
Juncadella claimed one position with a tremendous overtaking move down the inside of another Mercedes-AMG GT3 into the tricky third turn, before setting off in pursuit of the Ferrari ahead.
He mounted a challenge into the first-corner hairpin on lap 26, only for an Audi that had just exited the pits to get past in an exciting three-way battle.
An incident between the Ferrari and the Audi resulted in a gain of two positions to bring Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing up to 11th.
The team then moved up to ninth when Juncadella overtook a car in the closing stages and also benefited from one of the late stoppers coming into the pits.
After taking the chequered flag in ninth, the Spaniard was classified in eighth courtesy of a post-race penalty for another car.
Qualifying for Sunday's DTM race is due to start at 10:15 a.m. while the main event is scheduled for a 13:33 p.m. green flag (both times CEST).
"Qualifying went quite well, from what I felt. We are struggling with a problem with the brakes, but we still managed P4 which was a good start. In the race, I had a good start but got hit by a BMW and lost two positions. I picked up the pace and was feeling OK, until the pit stop when a car in front hit one of our mechanics and that compromised our whole pit stop by six or seven seconds, which makes a big difference in this championship. So we went from P4 to P14. We still kept confident and I managed to fight my way back to P9 which was reasonable and the pace was not too bad. We need to sort out the brakes to find a bit more pace in the car, because the setup and the rest seem very competitive this weekend."
"Today’s qualifying was good; Dani pushed on the last laps and set his time. We finished qualifying in P4 which was a very good result and we started the first race here at Nürburgring really optimistic. Dani made a good start, but we lost some positions at the restart after being hit when the safety car came in. Our pit stop strategy was a reaction to what was happening on track and therefore it was a decision made at short notice. A car came into the pits in front of us and when entering its station, hit one of our crew. We finalised the pit stop even though our guy was injured. It was a very hard and difficult race but nevertheless we were able to finish P9 and score some championship points."