Embarking on the stiffest challenge of his career to date, Joel Eriksson steps into the limelight as a works BMW DTM driver this weekend as the ultra-competitive German touring car series kicks off at Hockenheim.
After finishing as runner-up in the 2017 FIA Formula 3 European Championship, Swede Eriksson sets out on a new path in 2018, progressing into the DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) to form part of BMW’s six-car attack on one of the world’s toughest racing championships.
“I’m really excited to get back to racing this weekend,” says Joel Eriksson. “It’s been six months since my last race (when Eriksson put it on pole for the Formula 3 World Cup in Macau), and to be given this vote of confidence by a company like BMW is massively inspiring. I’ve waited for this weekend for a long time.”
At just 19 years of age, Eriksson will become the second-youngest BMW DTM driver of all time at Hockenheim this weekend, with only Czech Vaclav Bervid having been younger (by four months) when he debuted for the Bavarian team in 1992.
As a matter of fact, Eriksson – one of three rookies in the DTM this year – is comfortably the youngest driver on the entire grid in 2018. Second-youngest is 23-year-old Pascal Wehrlein (GER, Mercedes), the returning 2015 champion who spent the last two seasons racing in Formula 1.
“The DTM will be a huge challenge,” Eriksson continues. “It’s so competitive and I’ve got so much to learn. It’s a new kind of car, sitting on the left and with a roof over my head. The races are twice as long as in Formula 3, there are pit stops, tyre management and all that. In single-seaters, I always knew what to expect, but this is something different. I need to take it step by step and make the most of any opportunity to learn as much as I can, as quickly as I can.”
Like always in the DTM, racing is set to be fierce this season as BMW, Audi and Mercedes each employ six of their fastest works drivers in the battle for prestige and supremacy.
Underlining the immense competition, a full seven out of the 18 drivers entered – more than one third – have previously won the DTM title. Joel Eriksson’s BMW squad fields two former champions in Bruno Spengler (CAN) and Marco Wittmann (GER); Mercedes have three in Wehrlein, Paul di Resta (GBR) and Gary Paffett (GBR); while Audi’s line-up contains 2013 title-winner Mike Rockenfeller (GER) as well as reigning champion René Rast (GER).
Also joining the Hockenheim season-opener this weekend is another ex-champion; Mattias Ekström (SWE, Audi), who bows out of the DTM after nearly 20 years with one final farewell appearance.
“It’s truly great to be racing all these fast, experienced drivers,” Joel Eriksson concludes. “I’m glad I will get to race Mattias before he hangs up his helmet. He is a DTM legend, and as a fellow Swede I’ve watched him race for so many years in this championship. It will be a special moment, I’m sure, but I certainly won’t do him any favours out on track! I’m here to race hard, learn everything I can, and do the best possible job for my team. I’m so thrilled to finally be here, this weekend.”
The 2018 DTM campaign kicks off on Friday with 30 minutes of initial free practice. Saturday and Sunday will then sport identical schedules of one practice session, one qualifying session and one race on each day. Both weekend races are 55 minutes plus one lap, featuring a compulsory pit stop for tyre changes.
Live streaming will be available at the official DTM website in selected markets across the world.
Joel Eriksson is racing for BMW Team RBM, carrying the #47 on his BMW M4 DTM machine.
All times local (GMT+02:00)
DTM | Round 1
Friday 4 May
Free Practice 1: 15.45-16.15
Saturday 5 May
Free Practice 2: 09.00-09.30
Qualifying 1: 11.25-11.45
Race 1: 13.30-14.30
Sunday 6 May
Free Practice 3: 09.00-09.30
Qualifying 2: 11.25-11.45
Race 2: 13.30-14.30
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