The first-ever night races, a maiden visit to a new track, a national hero debuting on home soil: the up-coming weekend holds plenty of historic firsts for the DTM. As the German-based touring car series heads abroad to Italy’s Misano circuit, Joel Eriksson faces a dark weekend – literally, but hopefully not figuratively – as he gears up for his first taste of night racing.
Adding to Eriksson’s challenge on this occasion, it’s not just the concept of racing under floodlights that will take him into unchartered territory.
The young Swede is simultaneously making his debut at Misano, idyllically set on the Adriatic coast and perhaps most famous for its road racing pedigree, making this the second race weekend in succession on which the BMW man embraces the prospect of a brand new track acquaintance.
“Misano is another new circuit for me, just like Brands Hatch two weeks ago,” says Joel Eriksson. “However, I think Misano will be a bit easier to learn than Brands Hatch. I’ve heard a lot of good things about the track, so I’m looking forward to it. It’ll also be the first time I’ve ever raced at night, but Misano has a good lighting system and I don’t expect that to be an issue. It will be spectacular for the fans with flames coming off the cars and glowing brakes, and I’m sure it will be really cool to drive a DTM car at night.”
This weekend’s races herald a return to Italy for DTM, which last raced in the country in 2010 at the Adria International Raceway further up the Adriatic coast.
Celebrating the occasion, the legendary Alex Zanardi is making a one-off appearance in a seventh BMW M4 DTM in front of his home crowd, lining up alongside regular works drivers Eriksson, Augusto Farfus, Marco Wittmann, Philipp Eng, Bruno Spengler and Timo Glock.
Zanardi, a two-time CART champion who lost both his legs in a violent crash in 2001, is not eligible for points but will undoubtedly be a welcome addition to the grid aboard his specially-adapted car.
“Alex is a true legend of the sport and everyone at the team is super happy to have him with us this weekend,” Joel Eriksson continues. “His comeback after the accident has been such an inspiration to so many people. It will be an honour to line up alongside him – hopefully ahead of him! – and especially to do so in front of all his fans in Italy.”
Due to the night racing schedule, the regular DTM time table is pushed back significantly this weekend.
Friday free practice takes place at 21.30 (local time), with both Saturday’s and Sunday’s qualifying sessions at 20.00 and the races at 22.30.
All times local (GMT+02:00)
DTM | Round 7
Friday 24 August
Free Practice 1: 21.30-22.00
Saturday 25 August
Free Practice 2: 17.15-17.45
Qualifying 1: 20.00-20.20
Race 1: 22.30-23.30
Sunday 26 August
Free Practice 3: 16.40-17.10
Qualifying 2: 20.00-20.20
Race 2: 22.30-23.30
CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (top five)
DTM | After 12/20 races
1: Gary Paffett (GBR), Mercedes, 177 p.
2: Paul Di Resta (GBR), Mercedes, 148 p.
3: Marco Wittmann (GER), BMW, 110 p.
4: Lucas Auer (AUT), Mercedes, 110 p.
5: Edoardo Mortara (ITA), Mercedes, 101 p.
15: Joel Eriksson (SWE), BMW, 27 p.
View full standings
Entry list: DTM 2018
Rules: how the championship works
FOLLOW JOEL (IF YOU CAN…)
Live streaming: www.dtm.com/live