Joel Eriksson clinched his first DTM podium of the season as he joined team-mate Philipp Eng in delivering an emotional 1-2 victory on home turf for BMW Team RBM in Belgium.
Eng and Eriksson made the most of a strategic roll of the dice in the opening race of the weekend at Zolder, located just 70 km from BMW Team RBM’s Mechelen workshop, coming home first and second to seal an emphatic success for BMW Motorsport – 35 years after the marque won the inaugural DTM race in history at the very same track.
Eriksson’s voyage to the front came from ninth on the grid, and saw the Swede put up a determined defence against the chasing Audi of Nico Müller in the closing stages.
Eriksson did not crack under pressure, however, fending off Müller’s advances by the tiniest of margins to eventually cross the line two tenths of a second clear of his rival.
In doing so, he helped secure a dream result for BMW Team RBM at their home event, with team-mate Eng scoring his maiden DTM win in the process.
“It’s a great feeling to stand on the podium with Philipp and to celebrate a 1-2 here on home soil for the team,” says Joel Eriksson. “We couldn’t have dreamed about this. Philipp is one of my best mates in the sport and I’m so happy for him. I know how it feels to take your first DTM win. Big thanks to everyone at BMW and RBM for this amazing result. The entire team deserves credit for the sound strategy, which was a key factor in this success. Müller was on fresher tyres at the end and I had to work hard to keep him behind, but thankfully I made it and the reward is pretty sweet.”
Later in the weekend, Eriksson backed up his Race 1 podium with another points-paying result for tenth place in an action-packed final race on Sunday.
The Zolder success marks Eriksson’s second career DTM podium, his first taste of the rostrum having come through a simultaneous maiden series win last year at the Misano circuit in Italy.
Fittingly enough, the next round of the 2019 DTM season sees the field return to Misano on June 7-9.
RESULTS (top five)
DTM | Round 2/9
1: Philipp Eng (AUT), BMW, 39 laps
2: Joel Eriksson (SWE), BMW, +8.645s
3: Nico Müller (SUI), Audi, +8.829s
4: Loic Duval (FRA), Audi, +18.159s
5: Mike Rockenfeller (GER), Audi, +24.502s
1: René Rast (GER), Audi, 39 laps
2: Philipp Eng (AUT), BMW, +9.845s
3: Jamie Green (GBR), Audi, +11.791s
4: Mike Rockenfeller (GER), Audi, +12.601s
5: Sheldon van der Linde (RSA), BMW, +13.195s
10: Joel Eriksson (SWE), BMW, +23.550s
CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (top five)
DTM | After 4/18 races
1: Philipp Eng (AUT), BMW, 59 p.
2: René Rast (GER), Audi, 54 p.
3: Marco Wittmann (GER), BMW, 43 p.
4: Mike Rockenfeller (GER), Audi, 42 p.
5: Nico Müller (SUI), Audi, 41 p.
11: Joel Eriksson (SWE), BMW, 20 p.