After yesterday’s turbulent race, it looked like another dramatic day was waiting at Red Bull Ring in DTM.
Gary Paffett had taken Pole Position ahead of Nico Müller and Championship leader Paul Di Resta. Yesterday’s winner Rene Rast would start from P7, while yesterday’s Polesitter Daniel Juncadella would start from eighth.
Opposite to the race yesterday, it started on a bone-dry asphalt, with lots of sunshine.
Paffett got the best start, but Rast did a super start and was up to P4 after only three corners.
There was close driving in the middle of the field, where Phlipp Eng, Daniel Juncadella, Robin Frijns, Jamie Green, and Lucas Auer had a fantastic duel for ninth position, swapping places continuosly. The stewards meant that PENG had been a bit too eager with his overtakings and gave him a warning.
Müller took the lead on the third lap when he used his DRS on Paffett.
Paffett tried to strike back two laps later, but he couldn’t get past the Audi Sport driver.
Augusto Farfus got a five-second penalty, because he didn’t line up correctly at the start of the race.
Lucas Auer was the first driver to pit for fresh set of tires.
Meanwhile, Paffett tried to get past Müller again, but even with DRS open, the Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM car only drove as fast as the Audi RS 5 DTM car.
Mike Rockenfeller and Marco Wittmann pitted on lap 6.
Guest driver Sebastien Ogier has previously participated in a couple of weekends in Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup, and he found the sharp elbows in the battle with Augusto Farfus, whom he overtook.
Wehrlein went to pit after ten laps, followed by Frijns the lap afterwards.
Edoardo Mortara, Timo Glock and Daniel Juncadella had a close duel for sixth place, that swapped places several times, depending on who had DRS or not. Glock gave Mortara a little shoulder push, which earned Glock a warning from the stewards.
Juncadella’s pitstop didn’t go after the plan, when the mechanics had a little problem with mounting the right rear tire. It went significantly better for Joel Eriksson on the following lap.
Farfus stalled on the track, where Audi Sport used right away to send Rast to the pits, in case of a Safety Car situation. The race director opted not to do it, but only gave a local yellow.
Both Di Resta and Glock, as well as Duval and Spengler pitted in the next lap, which after only a handful drivers left on the track, without pitstop.
Rast already had warmed his tires and could speed through Di Resta in Turn 3.
Müller and Paffett pitted one lap afterwards. While everything went perfectly for Müller, the Mercedes mechanics had problems changing Paffett’s tires, which cost a position to Rast already at the pit exit. After that Rast only had Müller ahead of him, while Paffett and Di Resta battled for third place.
Joel Eriksson was about to catch up with the two Mercedes drivers, who suddenly needed to look in their mirrors.
Mortara pitted after 20 laps, and came out on 12th place, after the whole race long battle between Rockenfeller, Glock, and Juncadella.
With 15 minutes left on the clock, Rast had closed up to Müller and went past the teammate with a little help from his DRS.
Jamie Green was the last man to pit, with only 13 minutes left of the race. It gave him brand new, fresh tires so he could attack the drivers ahead with full speed.
Lucas Auer unfortunately had to retire due to technical problems, shortly before the end of the race. Not a desired result on the home track.
Juncadella gradually became more and more tired to see the rear of Glock’s yellow car, that the Spaniard did a desperate dive in the Raunch Corner, so he completely outbraked himself and lost more places, before he fought through the gravel.
While the Rene Rast was a bit lucky in the race yesterday, he took today’s victory on pure speed, with his bodyguard Nico Müller on second place, while Gary Paffett and Paul Di Resta finished third and fourth. Joel Eriksson was the best BMW driver in P5.
It was Rast’s fourth victory in a row this DTM season, while it was Audi Sport’s 100th DTM win.
Paul Di Resta will go to the finale week at Hockenheim in three weeks’ time as the Championship leader. He has four points to Gary Paffett, while Rene Rast is only 30 points from the lead – with 52 points still available.
Mercedes has already won both Team and Constructor championship, but can they also win the driver’s title?
Can Rast keep the momentum until the final, or will one of the Mercedes drivers win the championship in their last DTM season?
No matter what, one of them will be able to call themselves a double DTM champion, when the finale is run on 14 October.