“Probably the biggest challenge of the year” – that’s what waits around the corner for Joel Eriksson as the 2018 DTM season launches into its second half this weekend. Germany’s top-tier racing series sails across the Channel for a visit to Great Britain, where the daunting Brands Hatch GP circuit is ready to greet the field; and Eriksson is under no illusion about the task at hand.
While a DTM rookie this season with BMW, Eriksson’s newcomer status has at least been somewhat mitigated so far by previous knowledge of all the tracks attended to date. That comfort zone will be erased for the first time of the season this weekend, however, as the 20-year-old Swede – the youngest driver on the grid – prepares for his first-ever dash around the highly demanding and ultra-fast Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit.
“I think this might probably be the biggest challenge of the year for me,” says Joel Eriksson. “I have never been to Brands Hatch but, based on what the other drivers have told me, it’s a proper tough track. It’s fast, undulating, up and down, blind corners and little or no run-offs. It’s probably one of those tracks where it actually helps quite a lot to have been around before, and to add to that we have less practice time than usual this weekend, but I will certainly push as hard as I can.”
DTM returns to Brands Hatch for the first time in five years this weekend, having previously raced at the venue between 2006-2013. Back then, however, it was the significantly shorter – and less spectacular – “Indy” loop that hosted proceedings, with hopes now high that a swap to the full-length Grand Prix layout will boost entertainment.
“It’s an old-school track, a bit like Zandvoort where we raced last time out, and that’s something I always enjoy,” Joel Eriksson continues. “It will be a lot of fun trying out Brands Hatch for the first time. I do have high expectations for the driving thrill. There appear to be two or three corners which are very high speed, very high risk – and that’s always exciting. I hope I can be in the mix for points again this weekend, but I do think it will be a challenge and my first priority is to maximise practice and rack up the laps for qualifying.”
The British round of the championship brings with it a revised time table, with Friday’s free practice outing scrapped in favour of two 25-minute sessions on Saturday morning. The weekend then takes on its regular shape, however, with qualifying and race doubles on Saturday and Sunday.
The DTM standings are currently headed by Mercedes’ Gary Paffett – racing on home soil in the UK this weekend. Joel Eriksson sits 14th overall, having scored points for top ten finishes at each of the opening five rounds of the season.
All times local (GMT+01:00)
DTM | Round 6
Brands Hatch (Great Britain)
Saturday 11 August
Free Practice 1: 09.00-09.25
Free Practice 2: 09.35-10.00
Qualifying 1: 11.20-11.40
Race 1: 13.30-14.30
Sunday 12 August
Free Practice 3: 10.00-10.20
Qualifying 2: 11.20-11.40
Race 2: 13.30-14.30
CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (top five)
DTM | After 10/20 races
1: Gary Paffett (GBR), Mercedes, 148 p.
2: Paul Di Resta (GBR), Mercedes, 121 p.
3: Timo Glock (GER), BMW, 101 p.
4: Marco Wittmann (GER), BMW, 98 p.
5: Edoardo Mortara (ITA), Mercedes, 97 p.
14: Joel Eriksson (SWE), BMW, 27 p.
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