Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing brought its debut DTM season to a close with a successful run in the second race at the Norisring.
Daniel Juncadella crossed the line in third after advancing three places from his starting spot, however a five-second time penalty sent him to fifth in the final classification.
After starting and finishing seventh in Saturday’s encounter at the tricky 2.3 kilometre street circuit, Juncadella qualified the #8 Mercedes-AMG GT3 one place higher on the grid for the 55-minute plus one lap season finale on Sunday afternoon.
The 2018 Norisring podium finisher made an excellent getaway, smartly ducking underneath the battling cars in front as they jostled wide at the first hairpin.
Juncadella was running fifth at the end of lap two and stayed there until he came into the pits as the first driver to take a mandatory tyre change with nine laps in the book.
GruppeM Racing’s pit crew serviced their BWT-liveried Mercedes-AMG GT3 in 8.3 seconds, contributing to a total pit time of 48 seconds.
This set Juncadella in good stead for the remainder of the race and the Spaniard pushed on without losing any ground.
Unfortunately, GruppeM Racing was handed a penalty upon a review of its pit stop, but this only served to motivate a charging Juncadella in the second stint.
With 15 minutes to go, GruppeM held seventh but knew that it would gain two more places when two of three late-pitting cars stopped.
An already hectic race soon entered a dramatic concluding phase as drivers up and down the field battled for the final precious points of a hotly contested DTM season.
Juncadella advanced to net fourth when one of the cars ahead spun out at the first right-hand part of the Schöller S. More excitement then came with two laps to go when Juncadella pulled off a brilliant move for third at the Dutzendteich hairpin.
That manoeuvre put GruppeM Racing third in a four-car Mercedes-AMG train at the head of the pack, although the looming five-second penalty meant that two cars behind would ultimately jump ahead after the chequered flag.
Despite missing out on a potential second podium of the year, Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing could be extremely pleased with its performances at all stages of the Norisring weekend, where it competed in front of a large and passionate crowd.
The team from Hong Kong ends its first DTM campaign sixth in the teams’ championship and Juncadella ninth in the drivers’ standings, with both on 77 points.
Four points results at the tail end of the season will give the whole organisation a subtantial boost heading into the winter. GruppeM Racing now plans make the most of every second it has during the off-season to come back even stronger in 2022.
Daniel Juncadella, Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing driver: “It was a chaotic race in all senses. We finished third on the line, but unfortunately we had the five-second penalty. We were a bit unfortunate there, because we deserved to finish the season with a podium. In the end, Mercedes-AMG also won the drivers’ championship thanks to all the teamwork where we played a big role. So we can be proud of that, and we also showed that our pace has been very competitive towards the end of the season. We need to analyse that and carry this momentum into the next season.”
Stephanie Flohr, GruppeM Racing team manager: “I first of all need to thank the whole team for 2021 DTM season. We had a very hard start but with a lot of teamwork we finished with lots of experience and a very good base for next year. The final race was one of the most exciting ones for the fans, but we are also very happy that there were no big accidents. Dani made a very good start and had a very good race. Of course, we tried everything to help Maxi. Unluckily we got a five-second penalty for a mistake during our pit top, thus we lost our podium. We finished the final race in P5. We will start directly tomorrow with the planning for next season and can’t wait to be back in 2022! Again, many thanks to Mercedes-AMG and to the whole crew for this season.”
Source. GruppeM Racing/Photo. DTM