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The battle for the best starting grid positions for the Sunday DTM race at the Hockenheimring has been decided: Timo Glock took his BMW M4 DTM to a lap time of 1m31.406s to secure pole position. Yesterday already, Glock ended up as the best-placed BMW driver in the first race of the season, in which he finished second behind race winner Auer. For Glock, this pole position is his second in the DTM. The 35-year-old was already first on the starting grid on 13 September, 2015 at Oschersleben.

There is a first today for Audi driver René Rast as he claimed his maiden front row starting grid position. He will starting from second place next to Glock. Jamie Green and the best-placed Mercedes-AMG driver Edoardo Mortara will line up on the second row of the grid.

Augusto Farfus had bad luck in the 20 minutes’ qualifying session. On his final attempt, the Brazilian improved from 18th to second, but had his lap time disallowed as he had crossed the finish line 0.1 seconds after the time had run out.

DTM qualifying on Sunday got underway in a slight drizzle. On a drying track, the lead changed hands several times. Saturday race winner Auer temporarily showed in first place, just like reigning DTM champion Marco Wittmann. Eventually, Auer ended up eighth, Wittmann will be starting his 58th DTM race from the penultimate grid position. The race starts at 15.15 hrs, ARD is broadcasting live from Hockenheim from 15.00 hrs.

Timo Glock (BMW, 1st grid position): “That was a qualifying like we want it for the fans. There was a new leader almost every lap. Yesterday was already very good as a start. When a second-place finish isn’t a motivation boost, you better go home. Today, I had a really good feeling in the car again. We made a few more changes that were very good. Especially at the beginning, it was difficult with the changeable conditions, so normally the last one to cross the finish line has the fastest time when the track dries out. For me, the in-lap back to the pits seemed to last forever. It was enough. I am very happy. Now, we have used two sets of tyres in qualifying, but some of the others probably haven’t. That could be a slight disadvantage for us. But we have the three points in the bag. And now, we will wait and see what we can do there up front.”  

René Rast (Audi, 2nd grid position Platz): “Especially as it was wet, I was having a hard time with the rain tyres. First of all, I had to find my way. But as the track dried out, I felt really well. The car was outstading and we had a good strategy. With myself and Jamie Green in second and third place, we are in a good position as a team. From that perspective, I am very happy. We only used one set of tyres. Now, we still have two sets for the race, which, of course, is an advantage. Yesterday, the race pace was very good, so we can be confident going into the race today.”

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At last, the cars are back on track. On Friday, first free practice at the Hockenheimring provided the fans with a first appetizer of what is in store for the eagerly awaited opener of the 2017 DTM season that gets underway with first qualifying and the points for the first three placed drivers. With Paul Di Resta and Gary Paffett, two Mercedes-AMG drivers set the pace in first practice.

Di Resta was fastest in practice and ended up with an advantage of 0.110 seconds over his team-mate Paffett. Audi drivers Mike Rockenfeller and Jamie Green followed in third and fourth place respectively.

In eighth position, Tom Blomqvist was the best-placed BMW driver. Only Maxime Martin was unable to complete one full lap in the half-hour session. “We still have a lot of work to do. This didn’t really say much,” Mike Rockenfeller summed up after first practice.

“Now, we will sit down and see what we can still improve. I am happy that I am among the drivers up front. The basis is good,” ‘Rocky’ commented in the pit lane immediately after the session.

After free practice, the drivers rehearsed the two-row grid formation behind the safety car for the flying Indianapolis start. The first impression: this will provide spectacular situations.

DTM action continues tomorrow at 9.55 hrs with second free practice. Qualifying for race one follows from 11.35 hrs. The highlight of the Saturday will be the first race that gets underway at 14.45 hrs.

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On Friday and Saturday, Mercedes-AMG driver dominated proceedings in the free practice sessions at the Hockenheimring, but the situation was reversed on Sunday. Six Audis and four BMWs ended up in the top ten. The fastest driver was BMW’s Maxime Martin with 1m31.777s. Next up were Mike Rockenfeller, 0.223 seconds down, and Jamie Green, 0.366 seconds down, both with an Audi RS 5 DTM.

The leader in the drivers’ standings and the race winner on the Saturday, Mercedes-AMG driver Lucas Auer, ended up 15th. “Free practice doesn’t say a lot, you should ask again after qualifying. A slight drizzle set in. Today, the cards will be reshuffled,” the Austrian said.

‘Rocky’, who finished on the podium yesterday, did it likewise as the points’ leader and held back with his interpretations. “It was okay. With used tyres, the car handled well. We have made some minor changes. You can judge your own performance, but as far as the opposition is concerned, you only know where you are after qualifying.”

At 12.20 hrs, qualifying is next for the 18 drivers. The second DTM race at the Hockenheimring from 15.15 hrs is eagerly anticipated.

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For 2017, the actors in the DTM promise the fans even more fascination, thrilling racing and tough on-track action. Loud, fast and close, that is what the race series is about.

One day before the first race of the season at the Hockenheimring, the drivers of the three manufacturers Audi, BMW and Mercedes-AMG are unanimous: “We will be providing an even better show for the spectators,” Mercedes-AMG driver Edoardo Mortara says, also on behalf of his colleagues. Last year’s runner-up is full of ambition and reckons that, for him, “the time has come to win the title.”

One who, according to numerous experts, could particularly benefit from the new tyres with increased grip levels, but also with faster degradation, is Mike Rockenfeller. “Many people are saying so and I hope that they are right,” the Audi driver says. He almost gets carried away when talking about the ‘new’ DTM: “This is where the best drivers are, all the cars are really closely together. The race results are unpredictable, that is making it so exciting.”

From zero to 100 in the DTM is almost impossible, as the past has shown. “The combination of team, driver and car is the basis to be successful,” Rockenfeller says. Also the uncertainties concerning the pit stop strategies that come with the new tyres prove variety and unpredictable results. Timo Glock, too, is convinced that experience is a valuable asset in the DTM. The BMW driver reckons that in 2017, the time has come for him to aim at top positions. “So far, I have scored three wins in five years. Now, I want to win three races in one year.”

The final word prior to the race weekend at Hockenheim with many uncertainties goes to ‘Rocky’: “There has been enough talking. Now, it is time to go racing!”