GruppeM Racing's Podium-Worthy Pace Goes Unrewarded
- GruppeM Racing fast both on-track and in the pits
- Late issue scuppers potential race two podium
- Positives to be taken despite challenging Assen event
Assen, Netherlands – A brilliant performance from Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing and Daniel Juncadella ended without reward as a late tyre issue agonisingly thwarted a likely race two podium at Assen.
Juncadella was on course to net a third-place finish in Sunday’s 55-minute plus one lap contest when his #8 Mercedes-AMG GT3 developed a problem with its right-rear tyre that caused the Spaniard to stop in retirement with two minutes remaining.
The DNF did not reflect the quality of the drive from Juncadella, or the pit work from the GruppeM Racing mechanics who contributed to the quickest total pit lane time of the day.
Juncadella started Sunday's DTM round from eighth on the 21-car grid and was eager to bounce back from an incident at the start of race one.
The Mercedes-AMG ace made an excellent getaway, taking two positions at the Turn 3 right-hander to put him within sight of the top-five at the end of the first lap.
The pit stops started at the end of lap five, while GruppeM Racing elected to call Juncadella in for the mandatory tyre change after seven tours of the 4.555 km circuit.
A rapid 7.1-second turnaround from the pit crew sent Juncadella back out in a very promising position, ahead of three cars that he had been pursuing in the early stages.
Juncadella maintained a strong pace, drawing out a gap to the group behind whilst also keeping tabs on the Ferrari that was running a couple of seconds up the road.
The #8 Mercedes-AMG showed up as fourth in the order but was, in reality, firmly on track for a second podium of the season due to the leading car still owing a pit stop.
But just as Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing started warming to the prospect of a top-three result, so its race came to an abrupt end when the issue struck.
Having shown front-running pace in the last two DTM events at Spielberg and Assen - but with no points to show for either - the Hong Kong-based outfit is hoping that better fortune will be on its side at the final two meetings of 2021.
The team will now begin its analysis of the Assen weekend and also start its detailed preparations for the penultimate round of the season at Hockenheim on October 2-3.
"It was a good race overall. The pace was really strong and the start was really good. The strategy and the pit stop were also on point, so I think it was a perfect race from eighth to third. But unfortunately we had to retire with a problem on the right-rear tyre. I think most important is that we showed we have a chance to fight for a good result, and that's what we intend to carry into the next two race weekends."
"We repaired our Mercedes-AMG GT3 overnight and started today’s qualifying with a good feeling. Dani finished P8 and so we started today's race from row four. Dani made a fantastic start and already gained some positions in his first laps. He had really good pace throughout the whole race. Our pit stop was the quickest in the field from pit in to pit out, and after the pit stop we were P3. Unfortunately, Dani reported over the radio in the last five minutes of the race that he needed to stop due to a tyre problem on the right-rear, thus we lost our podium. Nevertheless, we showed that the car is fast, Dani is spot-on and the team did a very good job."