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Marco Wittmann could play his masterstroke in the Lausitz
This coming weekend, the DTM and Hankook turn on to the finish straight. At the eighth of ten rounds, the driver’s classification could already be sealed on the 3.478-kilometre Grand Prix Lausitzring in Germany. Holding an almost fail-safe lead of 64 points over second-placed Mattias Ekström (Audi), scoring fourth this weekend would be enough for Marco Wittmann (BMW) to take home the championship crown early in the most popular international touring car series. At his four victories so far this season, the 24-year-old utilised the full potential of the option tyres from premium manufacturer Hankook, often opening a gap to the rest of the field on the ultra-fast rubber of the exclusive DTM partner, which he defended in the second half of the race after switching to the standard tyre. In the Lausitz on Sunday, the BMW pilot could very well play his masterstroke to wrap up the series.
Klettwitz/Germany, 12 September 2014 – The Lausitzring in Germany is one of the few DTM circuits that is driven in a counterclockwise direction. The track surface is smooth and compact but five sections have been resurfaced. For the pilots this means they need to adjust to the different grip levels and an unstable vehicle when driving over the joining sections. “Although most of the track is smooth, heavy understeer and slipping make the Lausitzring a real challenge for our race tyres which, with this circuit’s many corners, are under quite a load on the inside,” explains DTM race engineer Christophe Stucki.
One key section is the last corner (Turn 3) before the start-finish line which is taken at full throttle in order to carry momentum onto the following long finish straight. Prior to this, however, the pilots must decelerate in a tight right-hander to around 100 kilometres per hour and then get the power on over the smooth tarmac. Christophe Stucki: “At this point it’s mainly the rear wheel that comes under a lot of load, hence a good vehicle set-up is critical to get the necessary traction.”
At the end of the tight infield, drivers must hit the sweeping right turn perfectly to carry maximum speed onto the following straight. “In this long parabolic curve, the front-left Hankook tyre comes under heavy load. However, since there are two tight left-hand curves before this, the rubber can lose a little heat, so the drivers have to be super sensitive on the throttle,” said Hankook’s DTM race engineer.
Another factor to contend with on the Lausitzring are the many bumps that need to be compensated for with the vehicle set-up and the corresponding damper settings. Flat spotting is also not uncommon, because grip has not immediately built up on the smooth surface. Hankook’s DTM race engineer: “If a driver hits the brakes too hard, flat spots can occur, particularly early on in the race. This, as well as the many bumps, means the brake balance must be right.”
Hankook’s soft option tyre will again make fast lap times possible on the Lausitzring. As per the regulations, the fast Ventus Race Plus tyre will be run for a maximum of 25 laps or just on 87 kilometres (50 % of the race distance minus 1 lap over a total distance of 52 laps). Last year several teams had switched to the baseline Ventus Race slick after just 20 laps, which, according to Christophe Stucki, was predominantly because at the fourth race of the 2013 season “they didn’t have that much experience in handling the fast new tyre.”
One unknown variable is the weather in the Lausitz region where unexpected heavy showers can surprise even the forecasters. But competitors need not worry about Hankook’s race tyres on the wet track. “It rained non-stop at ours tests on the Lausitzring before the start of the season, but as expected we didn’t have the slightest problem. It goes without saying, the pilots will also enjoy total support from our Ventus Race Rain wet tyres in the Lausitz.”