In their first season back in the DTM since 1993 BMW have won a clean-sweep of the 2012 Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters Driver, Manufacturer and Team crowns, with Canadian Bruno Spengler taking not only the race win but also topping the Driver’s points table after the final round at Hockenheim.
Spengler won four times during the year in his Team Schnitzer M3 and only failed to score points in two races; he’d been close to the title on four previous occasions when driving for Mercedes-Benz, but never headed the driver standings. This year he managed it for the first time –and at the crucial moment.
It’s been a phenomenal return to the DTM for BMW: they suffered no retirements due to technical problems with the new M3 DTM (though due to the door-to-door racing there have been plenty that have been accident-related) and Spengler won for BMW in just their second race. Augusto Farfus took a win at Valenica, giving BMW five victories overall.
That now gives BMW 54 victories in the series, with their first win delivered by Harold Grohs’ 635 CSI in the very first DTM race at Zolder back in 1984.
There had been an intense battle all year: perennial title-challenger and Mercedes C-Coupé driver Gary Paffett (champion in 2005) had a season-long fight at the top with Spengler and fellow Brit Jamie Green.
Paffett had led the driver standings since the opening round of 2012 but had to finish ahead of Spengler to seal the championship. Unfortunately for Paffett, Spengler made a spectacular start from third on the grid and slotted in behind pole-sitter and team-mater Augusto Farfus.
All race long Paffett pushed, but couldn’t get on terms with the M3 and had to settle for second in both the race and championship.
Mercedes’ Jamie Green came home in fourth, securing third in the overall standings.
Audi experienced a bruising opening couple of races with their new A5 DTM after so many years of success: Italian Edoardo Mortara scored the only wins for the team, though the team battled back over the course of the season to be leading the Manufacturer standings into the last round.
The future looks even brighter for the DTM as a whole after signing up to an exploratory deal with the Japanese Super GT series: this should allow Honda, Toyota and Nissan to all be represented on the grid from 2014, and in return BMW, Mercedes and Audi to compete in the top tier in Japan.
There had been on/off rumours of this tie-up for a while, but it had seemed to go cold after talks in the Summer led to nothing – the tie-up is incredibly exciting for the future of both series.
2012 DTM DRIVERS CHAMPIONSHIP
1: Bruno Spengler (Schnitzer M3 DTM) 149 points
2: Gary Paffett (HWA Mercedes-Benz C-Coupé) 145
3: Jamie Green (AMG Mercedes-Benz C-Coupé) 121
4: Mike Rockenfeller (Abt Sportsline Audi A5 DTM) 85
5: Edoardo Mortara (Rosberg Audi A5 DTM) 82