The first DTM race in the dark was run in Italian Misano, where 19 drivers were ready to drive under the floodlights. The round was also the 13th in this year’s championship.
The qualifying had extra challenges for the drivers due to rain, which tripped some of the drivers.
Paul Di Resta had taken Pole Position ahead of his Mercedes-AMG teammate Edoardo Mortara, while Audi Sport driver Rene Rast would start from P3. The championship leader Gary Paffett started the race from fourth, right in front of BMW’s best man, Timo Glock.
Local hero Alex Zanardi was a guest driver at BMW this round, and was qualified 19th and last. Zanardi drove a special-build hand controlled M4 DTM car. As if it wasn’t enough at he should handle the already demanding car, he should also drive under the tricky wet weather.
The track dried out at the start of the race, which made some of the drivers to choose wet tires while others opted for slicks.
Jamie Green started from the pitlane, since he had a problem with the car before going out to the grid. Not that it made a big difference when he qualified 17th in the first place.
Paffett did the best start and took the lead before Turn 1, but Di Resta came back in front while Paffett had to back off to second. Rene Rast had already lost a place at the start and lost a couple more positions before the end of the lap.
Pascal Wehrlein and Loic Duval had a battle for 11th place, where there were some pushing and bumping screens.
Mike Rockenfeller and Marco Wittmann also pulled out the sharp elbows, where Rockenfeller first drove Wittmann close to the gravel, and Wittmann retaliated a couple of corners later. It sent Rocky fall back behind his teammate Robin Frijns.
Loic Duval and Philipp Eng were the first two drivers who had pitted for tire change on the third lap.
Wittmann went off the track on lap 4, after getting a little push from Frijns. Wittmann dived to the pit in the first chance he got, so did Mortara, Green, Eriksson and Glock.
Lucas Auer came up from P6 to P3. Thus it was Mercedes 1-2-3.
Müller and Rockenfeller pitted after five laps on the wets and changed to slicks.
It was the correct time to pit, which was what Di Resta, Paffett, Frijns and Rast also did at the start of lap 7.
Wehrlein and Auer waited one lap later with their tire change.
Paffett outbraked himself at the end of the back straight, and both Mortara and Eng tried to exploit that by driving to his side. The three cars had a contact with each other, and Paffett got the worst of it. He was sent off the track with a broken steering and had to retire.
Loic Duval and Joel Eriksson also had a contact, which sent both of them in a spin.
Since Paffett’s car stopped in the middle of the track, Safety Car had to be deployed, so the marshals could get the car removed. Paffett was livid, because Mortara is his teammate and shouldn’t get involved in the championship battle with such an aggressive driving.
Daniel Juncadella, Augusto Farfus, Bruno Spengler and Alex Zanardi hadn’t pitted and it didn’t look good for them, as they were almost guaranteed to finish in the last four positions, since they would lost so much time. Zanardi sneaked into the pits while the SC was still out, so at least he would follow the field at the restart, even from last position.
The race got restarted with the cars side by side. There was a bit of pushing on the way to the first corner – but it was first in Turn 3 that Juncadella went off.
Later on the lap, there was a contact between Rene Rast and Jamie Green, but they could continue.
Auer and Eriksson touched each other, which forced Auer to retire, and a few laps later Bruno Spengler did, too, when he got involved in a pile-up behind the Auer/Eriksson’s incident. All the chaos with Auer’s and Spengler’s cars got stranded on the track resulted in the second Safety Car of the day.
When the race was restarted with only 22 minutes left on the clock, Farfus was leading, but he still needed to do his pitstop, with Eng and Di Resta behind him, before Juncadella on P4, without pitstop.
Di Resta came up to second place by overtaking Eng already under the restart, before chasing for the lead. Mortara also went up to fourth in the first couple of corners.
Di Resta outbraked himself at the end of the straight, which allowed PENG to dive past him again.
Farfus pitted just as Eng came up to him, after giving Eng a good lap with DRS chances.
Eriksson got a drive-through penalty on P6 due to the contact earlier in the race.
Juncadella, Glock and Duval had a close battle for fourth place, where Müller and Frijns then also joined. Duval managed to drive past Glock, in a nice slipstream overtaking, where the two drivers respected each other.
With ten minutes left, Di Resta got behind Eng again and put the Austrian under pressure. Di Resta went past Eng, followed by Mortara who also got past.
Eng kept losing positions, later also to Juncadella, and he quickly got under pressure from Duval, Frijns and Müller. In the next few corners, they also drove past him.
Mortara was right behind Di Resta and put a pressure on him, with just two minutes left. At the same time Frijns caught up with the two of them.
On the very last lap, Frijns overtook Mortara, when the Dutchman forced the Swiss to make a mistake. The two cars brushed each other, but Frijns got in front.
Paul Di Resta won the race, ahead of Robin Frijns and Edoardo Mortara. It wasn’t a good day for BMW, where their best driver finished all the way down on P7, in the shape of Timo Glock.
It was a race with a big retirement number, where only 13 out of 19 drivers saw the chequered flag.
On Sunday evening, it’s the time again for the second DTM race under the lights of Misano.