Another strong drive from Daniel Juncadella enabled Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing to earn more DTM championship points in the second race of the weekend at Hockenheim.
On a day when a podium was well within reach, Juncadella took a hard-fought fifth-place finish to bank 10 points in addition to the eight he secured for a top-six result on Saturday.
The front two rows of the grid for Sunday’s 55-minute plus one lap race were identical to those from race one, meaning the #8 GruppeM Mercedes-AMG GT3 started from fourth.
A typically frenetic opening lap saw Juncadella settle into fifth position, while a few laps later a fellow Mercedes-AMG competitor got past the Spaniard into the Turn 6 hairpin.
This wasn’t a concern for GruppeM Racing, however, since the team was confident that its pit strategy would give Juncadella an edge in the latter stages of the race.
Several of the leading cars pitted either immediately or shortly after the window opened on lap five, but Juncadella carried his first stint through to the end of lap 15.
GruppeM Racing’s tyre changers were again on top form, turning their car around in 7.6 seconds, while Juncadella’s pit road time of under 29 seconds was one of the best in the field.
Juncadella emerged from the pits in net seventh but had the notable advantage of being on fresher rubber than the drivers ahead of him who had made earlier stops.
The 30-year-old masterfully reeled in the competitors in front, overtaking three in quick succession to return to his starting position of fourth.
The closing stages of the race saw Juncadella latch onto the tail of the third-placed Mercedes-AMG. Despite having the pace to challenge for a podium, he instead safely held station to avoid intervening in the close drivers’ championship battle at a crucial stage of the season.
As a train of cars bunched up behind the pair, a different Mercedes-AMG driver managed to get past Juncadella on the last lap which established his final position.
Nonetheless, GruppeM Racing could be very proud of its performances at all stages of the Hockenheim event where the team consistently featured at the sharp end.
Its reward for a strong weekend was an 18-point haul that promoted Juncadella up to ninth in the drivers’ standings and GruppeM to seventh in the teams’ championship.
The Hong Kong-based outfit’s maiden DTM campaign will conclude at the iconic Norisring street circuit in Nuremberg next weekend.
Daniel Juncadella, Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing driver: “It was a good Sunday, performance-wise. Obviously we hoped for a bigger result after the strategy paid off, but it was a very positive weekend overall. We made the right changes today for the race, which also made the car a lot stronger than yesterday. So that’s good to see. I’m looking forward now to the last one.”
Stephanie Flohr, GruppeM Racing team manager: “We are very happy with our performances in qualifying and the race. Dani finished qualifying in P4 and in the race he again demonstrated his potential. Our pit stop crew also showed the improvement they have made from our first DTM race to now. Dani was very fast after the pit stop due to the new tyres and we definitely believe that he would have been able to catch the Ferrari in P2. We finished P5 with a good feeling. We also congratulate Mercedes-AMG on securing the manufacturers’ championship.”
Source. GruppeM Racing/Photo. Mercedes