The second DTM race of the weekend at Zandvoort in the Netherlands was a hot and sunny one, where the drivers needed a lot to drink both before and during the race.
Mercedes driver Gary Paffett had taken Pole Position just like yesterday, while Philipp Eng at BMW had grabbed P2 ahead of Audi driver Rene Rast. Pascal Wehrlein and Paul di Resta got two more Mercedes cars into Top 5, before Mike Rockenfeller got his Audi ahead of the two BMW cars piloted by Bruno Spengler and Augusto Farfus. Third in the championship prior to today’s race, Timo Glock, was starting from the back row since he had technical issues with the car in the qualifying.
The start went quite smoothly and everybody got off to a clean start. Lucas Auer was going a bit sideways through the first few turns, but he stayed on the track.
Rene Rast and Nico Müller chose to pit on the very first lap. That resulted them in getting a totally clear track to charge on. Daniel Juncadella pitted one lap later.
Paffett quickly bridged a gap while Eng had Wehrlein and di Resta right up his neck.
Mike Rockenfeller, Jamie Green and Timo Glock pitted after four laps, and rejoined amongst the others who had already pitted.
Di Resta and Spengler pitted one lap later, to avoid getting swamped up by the rest of the field in case of a Safety Car.
Juncadella overtook Spengler around the outside in the ultra fast Sheivlak Turn 8. The overtaking was helped by the former already having heat in his tires opposite to Spengler just rejoined after his pitstop.
Marco Wittmann pitted after 7 laps, and came back in the middle of traffic, losing a lot of positions until he got his tires working.
Philipp Eng pitted after 9 laps, and it became clear that the former P2 positioned driver had lost a lot of positions. He came back out behind Rast and di Resta, but was also overtaken by Juncadella and had Rockenfeller and Müller right behind him.
Paffett pitted after 11 laps, since they didn’t really have any other opportunities. It cost him the lead of the race, since Rast not only overtook him right when he exited the pits, but also put a great distance to the Mercedes driver until he had heat in his tires. So it all became clear, that the rest of the drivers who hadn’t pitted, were in great troubles – the earlier you pitted, the more advantage you appeared to have.
Local driver Robin Frijns had to retire after only 11 laps. The unlucky Dutchman had been plagued by electrical issues all through the Sunday, and this put an end to his race.
Spengler and Green had an intense battle for 14th, where Green was looking for every possible gap on both the inside and outside of Spengler.
Juncadella was in troubles halfway through the race. He not only lost a position to Eng and Rockenfeller, but also Müller, Farfus and Wittmann. It was clear that something was wrong, since he lost all those positions in less than a lap.
Wehrlein pitted with 25 minutes left of the race, and rejoined in 7th position, which quickly turned into P9 when Farfus and Müller went both sides of the former German Formula 1 driver.
Duval was the last driver to pit, and he rejoined in 11th, but with several drivers right up his neck.
Bruno Spengler spun off the track with 22 minutes left, after being punted by Jamie Green. Spengler just got his rear tires into the gravel, so he wasn’t able to get going again. That resulted in a Safety Car, so his car could be removed. The marshals were able to push him back on the track, and he was good to go again. Jamie Green was handed a drive-through for causing the collision.
Glock took the opportunity during the SC to pit for 4 new tires. He was last anyway, so he had nothing to lose – and 4 fresh tires was perhaps going to give him an edge. Juncadella went for the same tactics.
With 17 minutes left on the clock, the race was restarted in two by two formation. That gave a lot of bumping in the middle of the field where Duval and Wittmann amongst others collided. That gave Wittmann a puncture and some damage to Duval’s car too.
Mike Rockenfeller pitted with 8 minutes to go, but rejoined all the way back in 16th, far from the points.
Mortara tried to get past Müller, but the Swiss didn’t give up and gave Mortara a small shoulder barge, so he had to fall back behind the Audi. Müller was handed a black/white warning flag, so he shouldn’t try the same again.
With three minutes to go we had Paffett running right behind Rast, and was able to use DRS against the German. He gained several meters on the straight, but lost it all again in the corners, when he got too close and thus lost downforce.
The gable for Glock with new tires really paid off. Having run all the day in last or close to last position, he drove all his way up to P10.
But the crazy first lap pit strategy for Rene Rast and Audi Sport Team Rosberg paid off, so the defending DTM Champion could not only take his own but also Audi’s first DTM victory of the year.
Gary Paffett finished P2 ahead of Mercedes teammate Paul di Resta, while Philipp Eng and best BMW driver in P4.
That resulted in Paffett extending the lead in the championship even further, while di Resta is still P2. Timo Glock, Marco Wittmann and Edoardo Mortara are the next drivers in the championship, while Rene Rast is the best Audi driver – in P9! Paffett actually leads by 27 points, while the next four are only split by 24.
The DTM field has one month summer break, before the series returns on 11-12 August at Brands Hatch.