Late Safety Car created extra action at Zolder

The qualifying to the fourth round of the 2019 DTM season was run at Zolder track in Belgium.

Sheldon van der Linde had taken Pole Position, in his only fourth DTM race, ahead of Rene Rast, yesterday’s winner Philipp Eng, Robin Frijns, and Timo Glock. It was yet another good mixed starting grid with BMW, Audi, BMW, Audi and BMW.

The race would unfortunately be without Paul Di Resta, since the R-Motorsport team had some technical problems in the qualifying and chose not to start the Aston Martin car.

Just as the race yesterday, there was sunshine for the seventeen starting drivers, with 28 degrees air temperature.

Eng got the best start and was up to pressure van der Linde in Turn 1, while Rast fell back. But Eng made a mistake in Turn 2, so he was back to P2

fik den bedste start, og var helt oppe at presse van der Linde i Sving 1, mens Rast faldt tilbage. Eng lavede dog en fejl i Sving 2, så Rast igen var tilbage på P2, mens Eng var tilbage på P3. Timo Glock var i stedet ny mand på P5.

Sheldon van der Linde
Photo: JJ Media

Bruno Spengler had a little flying moment, when he hit a curb in one of the chicanes, but luckily he landed softly and could drive further.

Daniel Juncadella pitted after the first lap, doing an alternative pitstop strategy.

Frijns overtook Glock at the start of lap four, on the way into Turn 1. At the same time Spengler dived into the pits for his first pitstop.

Yesterday’s winner Eng chose to pit on lap eight, together with Müller and Fittipaldi. Eng came out in the best position, out of those who had pitted.

On lap eleven, Rast drove past van der Linde, using the help of slipstream down the start-finish straight. Van der Linde, Green and Aberdein dived in at the end of the same lap – just as Frijns had fought to get past Eng again.

Van der Linde came out right in front of Eng, and managed to hold the Austrian behind him until he warmed up his tires.

Rene Rast pitted one lap later and came out ahead of van der Linde. The 2017 champion was just as good to defend himself as the rookie.

Eng and Frijns drove door-to-door down the straight, but it only resulted in Glock getting a double slipstream and closing up on both of them. But Eng held on his position ahead of Frijns and Glock.

Daniel Juncadella
Photo: JJ Media

Wittmann pitted after sixteen laps and came out in a real P6.

Eng continued to drive defensively, where Frijns, Glock, Wittmann and Green were lurking behind him and waiting for him to make a mistake.

Ferdinand Habsburg had to unfortunately retire with half an hour left, as the mechanics pushed the car back into the garage with a broken rear suspension.

Wittmann got past Glock quite easily, while Audi driver Green found it harder to drive past. Wittmann had a duel with Frijns, where the German ended up pushing the Dutchman off the track. The stranded Audi caused a Safety Car period.

Some drivers down the field used the chance to pit for new tires, such as Dennis, Green, Müller, Spengler, Aberdein and Fittipaldi. One lap later Eriksson also went in for a free pitstop. Those drivers were in P8 and down.

The Safety Car period also caused the race to be extended with two extra laps.

Rast got the best restart, while Eng drove past van der Linde, who had seemed to fall asleep.

Wittmann, Duval and Juncadella were all off the track onto the gravel, after being involved in some battles through the field. The Spaniard, Juncadella, had to roll the car back to the garage and retire.

Wittmann got a drive-through penalty for spinning Frijns around and was down to last place.

Rene Rast
Photo: JJ Media

Dennis had found so much speed down the straight and was on the way to get past Glock. However, Green flew by from the inside and overtook both of them. A cool duel between all three brands.

While Rast was pulling away in front, there was a four-way battle for second place between Eng, van der Linde, Rockenfeller and Green. Rockenfeller let Green past as the Brit was faster than the German, so he could start chasing the two BMW drivers instead.

On the penultimate lap, Dennis fought himself past Glock, which opened the door for Spengler, Müller, Fittipaldi, Duval, Eriksson and Aberdein to drive past as well.

Green attempted to overtake van der Linde, but he had to pull back.

On the last lap, Green got past van der Linde, which opened the door for Rockenfeller, who then dived from the inside. He might used a sliver of grass, but he did get past.

Rene Rast won the race in a dominant style, ahead of Philipp Eng, Jamie Green, Mike Rockenfeller, and Sheldon van der Linde, with Jake Dennis as the best R-Motorsport Aston Martin driver in P6.

Philipp Eng left Zolder as the championship leader, in front of Rene Rast, Marco Wittmann, Mike Rockenfeller, Nico Müller and Robin Frijns.

Audi Sport Team Rosberg leads the team championship, followed by BMW Team RMR, Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline, BMW Team RMG and Audi Sport Team Phoenix.

In three weeks’ time the DTM series will start again, at the Italian Misano.

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