25/07/17

Race Result: A rollercoaster weekend for Blomqvist

Moscow (RUS) Moscow (RUS)
Race 1 DNF Race 2 7th

Tom Blomqvist experienced a rollercoaster of a weekend both on and off the track in the fifth round of the season at Moscow Raceway. A race one DNF, was followed by his pole position on Sunday being taken away from him for race two, where he recovered from last place to finish in 7th.

Returning to the track after his second place finish a year ago, Tom got off to a slow start as he struggled in first practice to put a challenging lap time together and finished the first session of the weekend down in 14th place – 0.770 seconds off fastest man Jamie Green with plenty of room for improvement.

Saturday

The second session of the weekend saw Tom go more than a second quicker than his fastest Friday lap time but the Thunderhead-sponsored driver struggled to keep up with the rest of the field as he finished 1.2 seconds adrift from fastest man, René Rast. Qualifying followed free practice two on Saturday morning and Tom knew the importance of a strong starting position at the Moscow Raceway.

Posting a 1:27.467 lap time, Tom qualified in 8th place and inside the top-ten for the 8th time from 9 races this season – showcasing the 23-year old’s strength in qualifying yet again.

When the lights went out for the first race of the weekend in Russia, Tom got off the line slowly, putting himself under pressure from the trailing cars as he hit the turbulent first corner. With Tom under pressure from all angles, he was struck by two cars coming out of the corner and lost momentum heading into turn two. As Tom lost pace from the turn one collision, Nico Mueller sensed an opportunity to get down the inside of Tom. With Mueller diving down the inside of Tom, the pair made contact as Mueller barged his way through, deflecting Tom into Bruno Spengler as parts flew off Tom’s BMW.

Crossing the line for the first lap way down in 13th place, Tom’s car was heavily damaged but he continued to try to fight his way back through the field. Pitting on lap four, Tom managed to jump Mortara and Martin in the stops but as the laps went off he didn’t have the pace to challenge the cars around him.

As the unbalance in Tom’s car continued to destroy his tyres, Tom was called into the pits on lap 20 to retire his car and bring an end to his first race of the weekend.

Tom was disappointed with how the first race in Moscow finished for him.

“I didn’t have a good start, which meant that I was under pressure from a few of the other drivers at the start. My car was damaged by a collision in the turmoil, which meant that I was unable to finish the race.”

Sunday

Tom’s poor luck appeared to turn around on Sunday as the TPS-sponsored driver bounced back from his race one disappointment, posting a storming 1:26.518 lap time to claim pole position for race two – for an hour at least.

Prior to race two in Russia, Tom was disqualified from qualifying after his BMW M4 DTM was found to not have sufficient fuel in for scrutineering, wiping Tom’s qualifying time and sending him to last place on the grid for race two.

Knowing that strategy would be the key to success from last place, Tom got off the line safely but stayed out of trouble through turn one and waited for any opportunity to gain positions. As others battled in front of him, Tom managed to get down the inside of Edo Mortara and Maxime Martin to move up to 16th place out of the first corners.

Tom’s bold call on strategy came at the end of lap one as he dived into the pits, following Marco Wittmann, Loic Duval and Maro Engel to a change of tyres.

Lap six brought Tom his first luck of the season, a safety car for Maxime Martin’s stranded BMW. With the rules stating that pit stops made the under-safety car do not count as the obligatory pit stop, Tom was able to make up his 40 second deficit to the lead cars and placed himself in a strong position in a theoretical 4th place.

As action resumed in Moscow, most cars came into pit for new tyres and Tom gradually made his way higher and higher up the order. However, the only car that wasn’t opting for a pit stop was Audi driver, Nico Mueller. Mueller, on older tyres, was tactfully holding the early stoppers up in an attempt to help teammate Mattias Ekstrom, who had held first place before the safety car.

With a pit stop taking over thirty seconds, Mueller helped Ekstrom to build a 13 second lead on the early stoppers before the Swede came into the pits on lap 16 and rejoined the action 22 seconds behind Tom.

With Ekstrom now on fresh tyres and Mueller still holding the early stoppers up, Ekstrom’s 22 second deficit to Tom was coming down by a rapid three seconds a lap – pointing to a thrilling conclusion to this race.

Ekstrom appeared on the back of Tom’s BMW with 15 minutes to run and Tom knew he had to do something to stop Ekstrom. Switching from defence to offence, Tom began to attack Loic Duval who was, theoretically, in third place. Coming down the back straight, Tom used DRS to make a move down the inside of the Frenchman to snatch the position and put a car in between himself and the flying Ekstrom.

With Ekstrom passing stablemate Duval in a matter of moments, Tom again defended as hard as he could with the little life left in his tyres from his first lap pit stop. With just 6 minutes to go and with his tyres expiring rapidly, Ekstrom finally found a way past Tom and for Tom the floodgates opened as the rest of the field on fresher tyres began to find a way past.

Fighting valiantly until the chequered flag, Tom crossed the finishing line in 8th place but was promoted to 7th after penalties were handed out – a positive result for Tom who started the race way down in last position.

Tom reflected on Sunday’s action

“We were all disappointed after qualifying. We made a mistake and lost pole. Then we opted for an early stop in the race and were fortunate that the safety car came out. But then I was battling with the tyres throughout the race and it didn’t ever feel like I had the right pace or grip. In the end, I am happy that we were able to pick up points.”

Bart Mampaey, Team Principal of BMW Team RBM, was extremely apologetic to Tom for the mistake in qualifying.

“Firstly, I would like to apologise to Tom Blomqvist for what happened in qualifying. That shouldn’t have happened, so sorry about that. It was quite a spectacular race at the front and Tom did well and managed to finish in seventh place. When all is said and done, we are leaving with a few points.”

Tom now has a total of 21 points this season after collecting 6 from race two in Moscow. The DTM now has its 'summer break' and returns in a month’s time for the sixth round of the season at Zandvoort, Holland. 

 

#31 Tom Blomqvist 


FP1: 14th (1:30.057, +0.770)

FP2: 16th (1:28.720, +1.116)
Q1: 8th (1:27.467, +0.432)
Race 1: DNF

FP3: 13th (1:28.652, +0.991)
Q2: DSQ
Race 2: 7th