Joel Eriksson maintained his record of scoring points at each DTM round so far in 2018 by battling his way to yet another top ten finish this weekend at Nuremberg’s Norisring.
Eriksson was at the centre of numerous stirring duels at the German street track, where the 18-car DTM field proved exceptionally closely matched throughout the meeting.
The Swedish BMW rookie lapped just 0.24s off pole in the opening qualifying session on Saturday, incredibly still leaving him only 11th on the grid for the first race of the weekend amid frenetic competition around the shortest track (2.3 km) on the calendar.
Come the Saturday race, Eriksson made a good start to immediately leap into the top ten, despite being squeezed into the wall on the exit of the Grundig hairpin in the congestion of the opening lap.
He then overtook fellow BMW racer Timo Glock – a frontrunner in the title race this season – to take ninth, finishing in the same position to add two further championship points to the 23 already scored earlier this season.
”The first race was really good, probably the highlight of the weekend,” says Joel Eriksson. ”We lacked a little bit of traction off the hairpins, but generally it was a competitive performance and my pace was good enough for the top five. I found the Norisring very different to drive in the DTM compared to how I remember it from Formula 3, so I’m pleased to come away from my first-ever DTM street race with P9 having had to re-adapt quite heavily.”
When running resumed with the second qualifying/race leg on Sunday, Eriksson again found himself right in the mix among his much more experienced rivals. Qualifying eighth fastest overall in a session where Mercedes locked out the top five, he was third within the BMW contingent – with five of the marque’s six cars covered by a mere 0.07 seconds…
In the race, however, a battling drive by Eriksson eventually went unrewarded following what proved a suboptimal strategy to pit on the opening lap, with the 19-year-old coming home in 12th just ahead of championship leader Gary Paffett (Mercedes).
The race was won by BMW’s Marco Wittmann on home soil in Bavaria.
“Some mixed feelings overall this weekend, but it’s inspiring to once again realise just how competitive this championship is and that it takes a flawless race to run at the front,” Eriksson concludes. “It’s no secret that I was hoping for more in the second race after starting eighth, but our strategy didn’t pay off on this occasion and that’s that. It was still a very valuable experience and I’m already looking forward to the next race.”
The next DTM round takes place at Zandvoort, the Netherlands, on July 13-15. The Dutch track marked one of Joel Eriksson’s greatest achievements to date when he won the Masters of Formula 3 event at the venue in 2016.
GALLERY: view all images from Norisring
RESULTS (top five)
DTM | Round 4
1: Edoardo Mortara (ITA), Mercedes, 68 laps
2: Gary Paffett (GBR), Mercedes, +0.681s
3: Marco Wittmann (GER), BMW, +1.286s
4: Paul Di Resta (GBR), Mercedes, +8.550s
5: Philipp Eng (AUT), BMW, +13.773s
9: Joel Eriksson (SWE), BMW, +15.813s
2: Edoardo Mortara (ITA), Mercedes, +0.450s
3: Daniel Juncadella (ESP), Mercedes, +0.860s
4: Bruno Spengler (CAN), BMW, +5.497s
5: Lucas Auer (AUT), Mercedes, +6.062s
12: Joel Eriksson (SWE), BMW, +31.139s Race report and full results
CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (top five)
DTM | After 8/20 races
1: Gary Paffett (GBR), Mercedes, 99 p.
2: Edoardo Mortara (ITA), Mercedes, 93 p.
3: Marco Wittmann (GER), BMW, 92 p.
4: Timo Glock (GER), BMW, 92 p.
5: Paul Di Resta (GBR), Mercedes, 87 p.
12: Joel Eriksson (SWE), BMW, 25 p.