VOLOKOLAMSK, Russia, August 3 (R-Sport) – Russian President Vladimir Putin inadvertently determined the outcome of the DTM racing series qualifying Saturday when the final session was canceled to allow his plane to fly over Moscow Raceway.
Based on results from the penultimate third session, championship leader Mike Rockenfeller took first place, ahead of title rival Matthias Ekstrom.
DTM officials confirmed to R-Sport the final session was canceled because the medical helicopter was unable to take off. Airspace had been closed for Putin's flyover.
"I've been in motorsport a long time and a lot of things have happened, but this is the first time this has happened," Mercedes driver Gary Paffett told R-Sport.
Third place was taken by Augusto Farfus, and fourth went to Bruno Spengler.
Audi’s cars performed strongly on the tight and twisty 2.6-kilometer sprint configuration of Moscow Raceway, which opened last year and is the youngest circuit on the calendar. Mercedes struggled with the lack of a long straight and none of their cars made it into the top six.
Britain’s Jamie Green was strong in qualifying and will start fifth after missing the final shootout by just five-hundredths of a second. His fellow Briton, 2005 champion Gary Paffett, starts seventh.
Double champion Timo Scheider is having a miserable season and has not finished in the points for three races. His poor form continued as he could only manage 14th on the grid.
There was particular bad luck for Canada’s Robert Wickens, who is fifth in the championship standings and came second in the controversial last round in Nuremburg, when winner Ekstrom was disqualified. The Toronto native qualified 18th, one place behind ex-Formula One driver Timo Glock as both failed to reach the second session.
The first part of qualifying proved nightmarish for Spain’s Roberto Merhi, who was slowest of all and compounded his problems by sliding into the barriers as he desperately tried to improve.