As if it was even for most of the teams, as for drivers the first time racing on Circuit de Catalunya, nobody knew what to expect there. And it started unexpected with rain on Friday. As they started their first laps on the dry, it was Nicolas to set the fastest time of all, while team mate Vanina was second behind him, so they had a motivating base to build on.
And they both seemed to like the new track and came along very well with the changing, uncertain conditions. Free practice of the DTM took place in difficult conditions on Saturday morning. Heavy rain showers in Catalonia made the job for the 20 DTM drivers a lottery. And again it was Nicolas finishing in twelfth place, to set the best time of all 2004 cars. Behind him, local hero Mathias Lauda was 13th, but then already, in a very good 16th place, there was Vanina, leaving three men in 2005 cars, and Susie Stoddart in a 2004 car behind her.
Qualifying was on wet again. Highly motivated both drivers wanted to push their cars on a good starting position for the race. And for the first time this season Team Futurecom-TME made it into the second Qualifying Session! With Vanina doing the 13th best lap time of all in the first session they moved up into the second heat, and ended up 14th, the best Qualifying result so far this year. Nicolas had some problems with his tyres and finished 15th.
ďAfter my previous practice sessions had been good, unfortunately I again didnít achieve what was possible in the qualifying. I didnít manage a good lap because the car felt completely different on the second set of tyres. That was an unexplainable behaviour, because this set of tyres had the same pressure and temperature as the one before that felt a lot better.Ē
So far this wasnít the worst weekend for the team, with Nicolas continuing his upward-trend from Zandvoort, always finishing between ten and fifteen, and Vanina impressing everybody with very good performances.
Then the race cameÖ After a very good start, where both gained positions, they were in a fighting group with Pierre Kaffer, Jamie Green and Christian Abt.
After the start, I tugged in behind Vanina through turn 1 and then Abt tried to pass on the outside, I ran wide on purpose to squeeze him towards the grass (giving him the option go on the grass or give way).
I went through turn 2 perfect behind Vanina, and she took the centre of the track at turn 3, and I dived under, and on the exit I was along side her. Down the straight I was on the centre and I had Vanina on my left hand side.
By mid way down the straight I got a big push from the rear, I then looked and saw Abtís car in the mirror, at the moment I didnít care, in fact I was happy as he gave me momentum to leap in front of Vanina. Then 2/3 down the straight, approximately 280 meter before turn 5, still on full throttle I was suddenly bumped from the rear and turned to the left in one motion, I had no idea who it was or what happened, I suspected someone had broken something and lost control. Next thing I know I am pointing 80 degrees to the left towards the Armco and hit it at full blast, with Vanina half inside my cockpit from the left. I then realised I was sliding towards people about to turn through turn 5 and thatís when I thought someone innocent was going to get hurt. I smelled coolant so I checked the temperature (it was 86 degrees) rejoining the circuit again so I limped to the pit without exceeding 98 degrees of water temperature.
After I thought about it I thought it was a miracle no one got hurt. When I was on the grass sliding towards other drivers in turn 5 with approximately 200 km/h. That could have had a major impact on other drivers.
As in Zandvoort, I really believed we had something that would surprise a few people. I had 2 new sets of tires available in my pit stops so I knew I could set some pretty serious out and opening laps.Ē
Unfortunately both drivers were involved in this big starting incident and had to retire. So a nearly perfect weekend ended sad.
Martin Tomczyk took his maiden victory, ahead of Bernd Schneider and Heinz-Harald Frentzen.