By contrast, the European championship looks set to go down to the wire, after Nils Naujoks took his first win of the season in the seventh round at Nürburgring.
Naujoks had qualified on the second row alongside James Baldwin, who’d won the last two successive races to establish a firm challenge to David Tonizza’s championship lead. However on the run down to turn one, Naujoks was able to send the big BMW M6 past both of the front-row Aston Martins – Bastian Richter and Tobias Gronewald – to take the lead.
Tonizza meanwhile had a torrid first turn, just as he had in the endurance round last time out. The Italian driver ended up being blocked by slow-running cars, dropping him outside of the top ten, and a further contact on the following lap saw him fall back into a lowly 30th.
Naujoks couldn’t pull away from Richter, or Baldwin just behind, though the top three were gapping Niklas Houben in the Audi R8 until the start of the pit window. Richter blinked first, with the rest of the top six all waiting until the very last seconds to dive down pit road. The undercut was enough to allow Baldwin and Houben past, and Richter had to scrap with Mateusz Tyszkiewicz to even keep fourth.
Despite never being more than half a second behind, Baldwin simply wasn’t able to find a way past Naujoks, with the BMW’s long legs pulling away on anything even close to a straight. That meant the British driver had to settle for second, leaving him six points behind the non-scoring Tonizza in the championship, 114 to 108. Houben scored a debut podium, barely six-tenths behind the lead duo.
There’s three rounds remaining in this year’s series, and it looks to be going to either Baldwin or Tonizza, with neither Kevin Siggy (DNF) or Josh Rogers (did not take part) scoring this time round.