Joel Eriksson followed up his P4 result from the Hockenheim season-opener with another points-paying outcome in round two of the DTM campaign at Lausitzring this weekend.
The Swedish BMW rookie took away a ninth-place finish as his best result from the weekend’s two races, which both proved dramatic yet vastly different in style.
Eriksson came home 12th in the opening race on Saturday, where a horror crash involving reigning champion René Rast was at the centre of attention.
The accident occurred on lap six as Rast, running immediately behind Eriksson, fought for position in the closely-matched midfield.
Rast’s Audi was forced wide onto the grass while battling with a rival, clattered the kerb, and somersaulted spectacularly in the air before coming to a halt in a cloud of smoke and debris.
Thankfully, Rast escaped largely unscathed, but his car was severely damaged and the race was red-flagged.
Once racing resumed, Eriksson – who had started 11th but made up two positions on the opening laps – opted for an alternative strategy, taking his mandatory pit stop as late as on the penultimate lap.
While worth a try, the strategy ultimately backfired as Eriksson struggled on heavily worn tyres at the end of the extensive first stint.
He eventually finished 12th, one place ahead of Audi’s Robin Frijns who attempted an even more aggressive strategy by pitting on the final tour.
“The first race wasn’t very good for us, but I think we’re all mainly pleased to see René walk away from that heavy crash,” says Joel Eriksson. “It really speaks volumes about the safety of these cars. We went for an unusual strategy and we knew it was always going to be a risk, but it was worth taking since we didn’t quite have the pace.”
In the second and final race on Sunday, however, Eriksson – his BMW M4 DTM now more dialled in to his liking – enjoyed a more competitive showing.
From seventh on the grid, he immediately snatched sixth with a bold around-the-outside move on Saturday winner Edoardo Mortara (Mercedes) in the first sequence of corners, and then overtook Mike Rockenfeller (Audi) for fifth a few laps later.
A series of events would derail the afternoon shortly afterwards, however, as first an aggressive counter-attack from the recovering Mortara caused Eriksson to drop three places – down to eighth – and then a crammed pit stop did little to help the cause.
Mortara was subsequently reprimanded by the stewards for his move.
Despite his less-than-ideal race, however, Eriksson still managed to bring home two championship points for ninth, adding to the 13 he scored on his debut at Hockenheim a fortnight ago.
“It’s always nice to score points and it’s never a certainty in a championship as tough as this, but I still feel we should have got a better result out of it,” Eriksson argues. “The opening laps were great; I made up some places and could keep up with the leaders without overdriving the car or tyres.
“Then, unfortunately, I think we ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time in a number of situations. We also had a poor pit stop due to traffic in pitlane, so it could have been a lot better. At least the pace was there today and we managed to improve a lot overnight, so we’ll take that on to the next race – at one of my favourite tracks.”
The DTM will now move on to the Hungarian capital of Budapest, with the next round pencilled in for the Hungaroring on June 1-3.
RESULTS (top five)
DTM | Round 2
1: Edoardo Mortara (ITA), Mercedes, 21 laps
2: Timo Glock (GER), BMW, +0.920s
3: Philipp Eng (AUT), BMW, +2.887s
4: Lucas Auer (AUT), Mercedes, +3.185s
5: Bruno Spengler (CAN), BMW, +5.094s
12: Joel Eriksson (SWE), BMW, +9.522s
1: Gary Paffett (GBR), Mercedes, 34 laps
2: Marco Wittmann (GER), BMW, +1.427s
3: Pascal Wehrlein (GER), Mercedes, +8.602s
4: Paul Di Resta (GBR), Mercedes, +17.891s
5: Timo Glock (GER), BMW, +19.061s
9: Joel Eriksson (SWE), BMW, +27.050s
CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (top five)
DTM | After 4/20 races
1: Timo Glock (GER), BMW, 72 p.
2: Gary Paffett (GBR), Mercedes, 71 p.
3: Pascal Wehrlein (GER), Mercedes, 39 p.
4: Edoardo Mortara (ITA), Mercedes, 37 p.
5: Lucas Auer (AUT), Mercedes, 33 p.
11: Joel Eriksson (SWE), BMW, 15 p.
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