Three team principals start raving when talking about their home race: the “DTM Nürburgring powered by Mercedes-AMG” event this weekend (26-28 August), the fifth round of the season in the long-standing series. “Nürburgring is my living room,” says Timo Bernhard, the boss of KÜS Team Bernhard. “The Nürburgring is surrounded by a really special atmosphere, it connects tradition and state-of-the-art like hardly any other race track,” Christian Hohenadel, principal of Mercedes-AMG Team WINWARD points out. While Bernhard’s team is based in Landstuhl in the Palatinate and WINWARD has its headquarters in Altendiez in the Westerwald region, Mercedes-AMG Team HRT has the shortest journey of all the DTM teams. HRT has its premises in the Nürburgring business park in Meuspath, only three kilometres away from the paddock. “In our facility, we hear the race and test action at the Nordschleife every day. It is music to our ears and a great motivation at the same time,” HRT team principal Uli Fritz is excited.
Looking ahead to the DTM weekend, the start of the decisive second half of the season, the three team principals largely agree about the 3.629 kilometres long sprint circuit: “The entire sprint circuit is the key point as the entire field is so unbelievably close. You can’t afford to lose time anywhere. One hundredth of a second here or there and you are missing four tenths over a lap, you are at the back and you can forget about a good result. That is DTM for you!”, Hohenadel sums it up, even though Bernhard specifically points out some tricky parts like the ‘Kurzanbindung’ and the chicane. The first corner after the start, right in front of the grandstands, is known as a hot spot anyway.
“The track offers so much action,” Timo Bernhard raves, having secured the maiden DTM race win for Porsche with his team last time out at Norisring. And with that, he means the entire motorsport facility. “There is so much to see what the Nürburgring has to offer. There is just a positive spirit.” Bernhard came to the Nürburgring for the first time at the age of five to watch his father compete in a race. Later, Timo Bernhard won the 24-hour race five times and won three races of the World Endurance Championship at the Nürburgring, never mind his fabulous record lap of the Nordschleife with the Porsche 919 EVO in 5m 19s. Hohenadel, whose team was previously based in Meuspath as well, points out: “Nürburgring is always worth a visit and the DTM weekend will be a tough act to beat in terms of excitement. I predict that all 28 DTM cars will be within less than one second in the qualifying sessions. And the races will be accordingly hotly contested as well.” Uli Fritz shares this view: “Everything is set for a great motorsport festival at a great event location and with a packed support programme. And for whom that isn’t enough: HRT is delighted about every visitor supporting us in our home race.”
HRT stands for Haupt Racing Team with owner Hubert Haupt from Munich at the helm. The team is already looking beyond this season as the HRT Race Base is currently being constructed in Meuspath. Uli Fritz: “We are in the final stages with the construction work. When everything goes according to plan, we will be able to move into our new headquarters still this year. These buildings incorporate many years of motorsport experience. As a result, we will find ideal working conditions there and we will also be able to extend our service portfolio beyond the pure motorsport activities.” HRT is in excellent company in the Nürburgring business park with numerous car manufacturers and automotive suppliers as well as a variety of race teams being based in this area that was recently extended, just like in the wider area around the Nürburgring. This results into several hundreds of jobs in the region.
Is there a home advantage at the race track? Not quite. Last Sunday, all DTM team bar two tested intensely in the Eifel and already moved into their pit boxes, so they have been working at Nürburgring all week. Uli Fritz: “The feeling of driving to work at the race track from home, sleeping at home rather than in hotels, is a very special one.” That is a home advantage as well, just like the pleasantly brief journey, as Hohenadel adds. And in general, of course, WINWARD, HRT and KÜS Team Bernhard are looking forward to their home round. “Every football team loves to play at home, too,” Hohenadel says. For the journey home, Timo Bernhard still has a tip: “Prior to leaving, so after the race, one can still do a lap during the ‘Touristenfahrten’ at the world’s best race track, the Nordschleife.” And people shouldn’t be surprised at all when they perhaps meet Timo Bernhard there, too.