DTM headed to Italy for the fifth and sixth rounds on Misano circuit, southeast of Bologna.
The race on Saturday was run under sunshine and warmth. Opposed to last year, the races this weekend would be run in the afternoon as usual.
Rene Rast had taken Pole Position, in a pure Audi show. Jonathan Aberdein, Loic Duval and Robin Frijns were P2 to P4, before Sheldon van der Linde as the best BMW driver. Jake Dennis was the best Aston Martin in P13, right in front of his teammate Daniel Juncadella.
Marco Wittmann had technical problems in the qualifying and had to start the race from the last position.
There was a little change in the field. Andrea Dovizioso had overtaken one of Audi Sport Team WRT’s cars, since Pietro Fittipaldi would be in Canada as reserve driver for HAAS in Formula 1. Unfortunately, because of Jamie Green’s appendectomy, Fittipaldi was convinced to drive in Italy instead. While Fittipaldi would drive in the orange Audi Team Rosberg’s car that Green used to drive, Dovizioso got his own design on the WRT car.
Rast had a good start, but Aberdein was lightning fast and he was already up to fourth in the first corner. If he didn’t give van der Linde a little shoulder tackle, he would’ve lost a position to him. Frijns fell back to P7, while Spengler drove himself up to third.
Marco Wittmann and Ferdinand Habsburg already pitted on the first lap. So they took the “Rast strategy”, which the leader couldn’t do this time.
Joel Eriksson stalled in the middle of the track on the third lap, due to a technical problem. It deployed a Safety Car in order to get the car removed.
Suddenly, Wittmann and Habsburg had a huge advantage, since they didn’t need to pit again – and the same time were back behind the field.
The race got restarted with two cars beside each other as the DTM rules stated.
Rast took the start and his teammate Duval obediently merged behind him.
Paul Di Resta got a three-second Pitstop penalty for a jump start.
There were plenty of battles at the back of the field between Fittipaldi, Di Resta, Dovizioso, Wittmann and Habsburg. Even though it was for the last five positions, they still fought hard. Dovi was the first out of the five, which was good, considering this was his DTM debut.
Wittmann slowly and slowly came up through the field – by both overtakes and also because the others had to pit.
WRT had a problem with the right front tire when Aberdein pitted. It caused him to fall back to last.
16 laps into the race, Rast, Spengler and Frijns pitted. Frijns had some problems with the car, where he couldn’t start it again and had to retire from the race.
Rast was back on the track, about thirty seconds after Wittmann, who was the new race leader.
Dovizioso and Fittipaldi had battled all the way before the pitstop, during, and out of the pits again. But Fittipaldi was slightly better to warm up his tires, so the Brazilian could overtake the Italian.
After everyone had pitted, Wittmann was in the lead ahead of Ferdinand Habsburg, Rene Rast and Sheldon van der Linde. The high temperature made Wittmann and Habsburg to be very careful with their tires, something the Audi mechanics thought the BMW driver couldn’t handle and they told Rast that over the radio.
Spengler drove past his teammate van der Linde with sixteen minutes left, where the South Africa didn’t put up much a fight.
Rast slowly but surely caught up on Wittmann, but not enough to pass the fellow German. But Rast managed to overtake Habsburg with ten minutes left on the clock, and shortly afterwards Duval also got past the Austrian.
Philipp Eng and Mike Rockenfeller had a close battle for P8. Eng seemed to have problems with his tires, so Rocky pushed with all he had. He ended up going past Eng from the outside, and later even built up a nice gap..
Paul Di Resta had to retire with four minutes left. The Scotsman was out of the points anyway, so the team didn’t lose anything much.
Habsburg continued to fall back through the field, and he was down to ninth place with a couple of minutes left.
There were three extra laps, instead of just one, after the time ran out, with the two laps behind the Safety Car being added.
Rast started to hunt Wittmann with up to three seconds per lap, but it was too late. So Marco Wittmann won the race ahead of Rene Rast and Loic Duval. Nicely done by Wittmann, but he was also lucky with the”Rast strategy”, with taking an early pitsop after starting last.
Daniel Juncadella was the best Aston Martin driver for R-Motorsport in P13, since Andrea Dovizioso overtook both Juncadella and Ferdinand Habsburg towards the end of the race.
The second race of the weekend will be run on Sunday, with a separate qualifying on Sunday morning.