It was a wet debut at the Dutch Assen track for DTM.
Shortly before the race on Saturday, the heavens opened and water came pouring down on the spectators.
Marco Wittmann had taken Pole Position in the dry, in front of the championship leader Rene Rast, Loic Duval, Pietro Fittipaldi, Timo Glock, Nico Müller, Sheldon van der Linde and Bruno Spengler. The best R-Motorsport Aston Martin driver was Daniel Juncadella in P14. Sadly the four new cars would again start from the back of the starting grid.
Robin Frijns had a technical problem in the qualifying, so he had to start the race from the pitlane, since the Parc Ferme rules forbid changes on the cars after qualifying – or else you have to start last.
As if it wasn’t enough with the rain, it was also windy before the start of the race.
The race director decided to start the race behind the Safety Car, since they thought it was too dangerous to let the drivers race past, without any form of practice in the rain, and without any previous knowledge of the track.
After nearly ten minutes behind the Safety Car, the race got started.
Frijns had overtaken the first two cars already before Turn 1.
Rast pressured Wittmann hard, and was up to the side of the BMW driver a few times in the opening lap.
Sheldon van der Linde was spun around by his BMW teammate Bruno Spengler. The teammates usually drove nicely around each other, but it could always happen in wet conditions, when they drive on different lines. The stewards looked into the case and gave Spengler a Drive-through penalty.
The Safety Car was back already in the first flying lap, when Daniel Juncadella stopped with a technical problem in the middle of the track.
The race got restarted quickly, and right away Nico Müller and Timo Glock were involved in a battle. The two duelled in one and a half laps, before Glock made a mistake and went through the gravel.
Müller had a progress and went past Fittipaldi in the fight for fourth place.
Jamie Green, Robin Frijns, Sheldon van der Linde, Ferdinand Habsburg, Jake Dennis, Bruno Spengler and Paul Di Resta pitted after 7 laps, while Mike Rockenfeller came in one lap later.
23 minutes into the race, Müller also got past Duval, but Wittmann and Rast were far ahead.
After the run-off earlier, Glock was also having a progress. He came up to fifth place, behind Philipp Eng, who also got past Fittipaldi.
Paul Di Resta’s race didn’t get better when his wiper blade flew off the car. Luckily, the rain had stopped, but there was still plenty of spray in the air and it affected his visibility.
Rast was the first of the two leading cars to pit for new rain tires, while Wittmann pitted one lap later. It left Müller in front of the field, as one of the few who hadn’t pitted.
Wittmann had some problems warming up his tires, so Rast was up to his side a few times, but the double champion could get the 2017 champion under control.
The stewards gave the drivers three more laps to race, as they would get after the Safety Car.
Eng was the third last driver to pit, and he came back to the track in fifth place. One lap afterwards, Glock went to pit and came out right in front of Eng.
Eleven minutes before the end of the race, Robin Frijns ended up in the tire wall, after having his right tires on a curb and spinning. Thus he had to retire with a broken Audi. Fortunately, he could drive the car back to the pits, so we avoided another interruption.
Eng fought himself past Glock, where the two teammates then kept a proper distance from each other.
Müller was the last person to pit, but he put it off until five minutes before the chequered flag. He left the pits in the lead, but he had ice cold tires, while Wittmann flew past on warm tires. Müller kept the lead through most of the lap, before letting Wittmann get past.
Rast was right behind Müller, but he couldn’t manage to overtake the teammate.
Marco Wittmann handled the pressure and won the race, ahead of Nico Müller and Rene Rast. Philipp Eng, Timo Glock, Jonathan Aberdein, Jamie Green, Loic Duval, Mike Rockenfeller and Sheldon van der Linde were the last drivers in the points.
Rast still leads the championship, with Müller in second place and Eng in third.
The next DTM race will be run already tomorrow, at the same Assen TT Circuit in the Netherlands.