DTM stars expect closer fight with Super GT cars at Fuji
Two of the DTM's leading drivers have predicted that this weekend's 'Dream Race' at Fuji will feature much closer competition with their SUPER GT counterparts than was the case at Hockenheim.
Three SUPER GT cars joined the DTM field for October's season finale, with Honda, Lexus and Nissan each fielding a single car, but the Japanese marques struggled to make an impact, not helped by their lack of experience on the DTM's spec Hankook tyre and poor weather.
Honda's Jenson Button took the best result for a SUPER GT driver with ninth place in the opening race, with the other drivers failing to break inside the top 10.
For this weekend's pair of joint races at Fuji, where seven DTM entries will take on a full field of 15 GT500 cars, Hankook rubber will again be in use, while the SUPER GT runners have the benefit of racing at a venue they visit twice during their regular season.
The SUPER GT drivers will also benefit from four 45-minute tyre test sessions to be held on Thursday and Friday in the run-up to the event.
BMW driver Marco Wittmann and Audi driver Rene Rast, who will both experience Fuji for the first time on Thursday, said predicting how the two series will stack up is difficult, given that both sets of cars have different advantages.
"The Japanese manufacturers know the track, we have experience with the tyres, so it's difficult to forecast the result," said Wittmann. "We have quite a lot of test sessions, more than we are used to in DTM, so that will be a help, but also for the SUPER GT drivers.
"At the end in Hockenheim we could see they were struggling in the wet to get the tyres to work, but after Hockenheim they have more experience with the Hankook tyres and in the dry conditions they showed some quite good potential.
"I think they will be up to speed and there will be a good fight between DTM cars and SUPER GT cars in my opinion."
Rast added: "The Japanese manufacturers have experience of the track. It’s like when they came to race against us at Hockenheim; for sure they have a bit of advantage.
"But we saw at Hockenheim in the rain they were struggling a bit with the rain tyres, so we still have a bit of an edge over them there. It’s not easy to predict.
"For sure they struggled in Hockenheim with the tyre temperatures, but they learned something, they improved, still we might have an edge here and there but maybe we lose out due to the experience they have at Fuji."
DTM drivers back decision to scrap passing aids
While the 'Dream Race' will conform largely to DTM rules, with no driver changes and a 55-minute sprint race format, SUPER GT-style rolling starts will be used, while the German series' overtaking aids, DRS and push-to-pass, won't be permitted.
Wittmann predicted that even without DRS simulations had shown the BMW M4 DTM would reach speeds of close to 300km/h (186mph) along the start/finish straight - which is broadly comparable to the figures routinely achieved in SUPER GT.
"In Hockenheim, we could see with DRS we were quicker than the SUPER GTs, without it we were a bit slower," said Wittmann when asked for his thoughts on the move. "I think we are just right in between and it’s probably the right decision to run without."
Rast said: "It’s hard to say how much we lose without DRS or push-to-pass. On a normal track, it’s about five or six tenths. Obviously DRS at Fuji would be a big gain, maybe seven, eight tenths or more. But we should fight with equal weapons."
Pietro Fittipaldi, Audi Sport Team WRT, Audi RS 5 DTM
Photo by: Alexander Trienitz
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