GruppeM Narrowly Misses Out on Saturday Points Finish
- Daniel Juncadella takes 11th at Spielberg on Saturday
- GruppeM Racing crew produces personal-best pit stop
- Team looking forward to second race of the weekend
Spielberg, Austria – Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing finished just outside the points in a challenging opening race of the DTM weekend at Spielberg.
Daniel Juncadella crossed the line in 12th position before inheriting 11th when one of the cars he was hunting down incurred a five-second time penalty for disrespecting track limits.
The Spanish driver ended up just one second away from securing a top ten result that would have heralded a third consecutive points score in the competitive series.
After an encouraging afternoon of Free Practice running on Friday, Juncadella qualified the #8 Mercedes-AMG GT3 on the sixth row of the grid for Saturday’s 55-minute plus one lap race in central Austria.
Juncadella managed to avoid trouble on the precarious uphill approach to Turn 1 and was running in 13th position during the opening stages.
The 18kg of success ballast that he earned by finishing second in the previous DTM race at the Nürburgring made advancing through the field a tough ask, but Juncadella remained close to the cars ahead of him before the mandatory pit stops kicked in after five laps.
Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing called Juncadella to box at the end of lap seven, with the pit crew performing a rapid 7.4-second four-corner tyre change to gain some ground in the net order.
Juncadella spent most of the second stint in 15th position but knew he would inherit four positions due to a handful of cars opting for late-pitting strategies.
A close-fought battle with a BMW resulted in Juncadella dropping one spot, but a penalty for the next car up the road meant he would retain 11th at the chequered flag.
Despite narrowly missing out on the points, Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing is confident that it can mount a challenge for the top ten in Sunday's final race of the weekend.
Qualifying for race two starts at 10:20 a.m. while the tenth encounter of what has so far been a thrilling DTM season is due to get underway at 1:33 p.m. (times CEST).
"It was difficult after a not too good qualifying where we struggled a bit more than we expected. Unfortunately I was only P11, but it was very small margins. With an extra few tenths, we would have been much higher. Then in the race it was very hard to overtake, but tomorrow should be good. I think we can find some good changes for the race."
"After our first podium at the Nürburgring we were really looking forward to this race weekend here at this beautiful place in Austria. We finished qualifying in P11 with a gap of 0.5 seconds to P1 and only 0.3 seconds to P2. We started very optimistic, although we knew that starting from row six can be very difficult and also dangerous. Dani made a good start without any major contact, however we lost a few positions. Our pit stop time of 7.4 seconds was our best this season and the third-quickest pit lane time overall. Here at Spielberg, it is very difficult to manage a good lap without disrespecting track limits, but Dani did that very well. In the end we finished P11. We will now check and prepare our Mercedes-AMG GT3 for tomorrow and push again in qualifying to score points in race two."