Joel Eriksson wrapped up the 2019 DTM campaign with sixth place in a rain-drenched finale at Hockenheim on Sunday.
The Swedish BMW driver was on strong form at the German Grand Prix track south of Frankfurt, lining up fourth on the grid for the season-finale after surviving the treacherous conditions in qualifying.
Eriksson initially slipped back to ninth, the result of consciously starting the race on low tyre pressures to ensure the strategic viability of a long first stint, but gradually worked his way back to the front as most rivals opted to take their compulsory pit stops early on.
Eriksson and Audi’s Jamie Green drew an optional picture, however, staying out on track amid continued precipitation to run first and second for much of the race.
The duo didn’t stop until the end of the penultimate lap and, while the gap to their pursuers was not big enough to maintain the lead, the pace on worn tyres had been impressive: Green circled down to fifth, and Eriksson to sixth.
As such, Eriksson crossed the line as the second-best BMW representative, just a few seconds down on ex-F1 star Timo Glock in fourth.
“Our strategy was to go long before the pit stop, so we started on low tyre pressures to keep the tyres alive,” Joel Eriksson explains. “That meant I was quite slow in the beginning and lost a few positions, but then once the tyres heated up, the car really came alive and we were among the fastest on track. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everybody at BMW Team RBM for this season. It’s a fantastic group of people, and today we had the fastest pit stop of anyone. I’m really happy we could finish off the season with a strong race like this.”
Eriksson also had to overcome a couple of glitches on his way to the finish line.
“It wasn’t the smoothest of races,” Joel Eriksson concludes. “The windscreen wiper broke apart after ten laps, and with ten to go the power steering stopped working. It‘s really, really difficult driving these cars without power steering, but thankfully I was able to keep it on the track and bring it home.”
Earlier in the weekend, Eriksson had finished the first race of the double-header meeting in tenth place. In doing so, he ensured he scored points in both of the concluding two races of the season.
Eriksson ends the 2019 DTM campaign in 11th place in the overall standings, with two podiums to his name at Zolder (BEL) and Norisring (GER). Audi’s René Rast is the 2019 DTM champion.
Joel Eriksson will now travel on to Shanghai to take part in a round of the China GT championship next weekend (October 11-13). The Swede will drive a BMW M6 GT3 in preparation for the prestigious FIA GT World Cup race in Macau in November.
RESULTS (top five)
DTM | Round 9/9
1: René Rast (GER), Audi, 38 laps
2: Marco Wittmann (GER), BMW, +1.693s
3: Mike Rockenfeller (GER), Audi, +10.697s
4: Robin Frijns (NED), Audi, +17.795s
5: Loic Duval (FRA), Audi, +24.224s
10: Joel Eriksson (SWE), BMW, +31.868s
1: Nico Müller (SUI), Audi, 27 laps
2: Mike Rockenfeller (GER), Audi, +3.835s
3: René Rast (GER), Audi, +8.403s
4: Timo Glock (GER), BMW, +11.849s
5: Jamie Green (GBR), Audi, +13.094s
6: Joel Eriksson (SWE), BMW, +16.248s
CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (top five)
DTM | After 18/18 races
1: René Rast (GER), Audi, 322 p.
2: Nico Müller (SUI), Audi, 250 p.
3: Marco Wittmann (GER), BMW, 202 p.
4: Mike Rockenfeller (GER), Audi, 182 p.
5: Robin Frijns (NED), Audi, 157 p.
11: Joel Eriksson (SWE), BMW, 61 p.