Rene Rast won the second race of the weekend at the Hockenheimring thanks to a brilliant two-stop strategy. After a slightly problematic qualifying for the Audi drivers, they managed to claim the top three spots.
Polesitter Philipp Eng benefitted from a good start in today’s race, unlike fellow front-runners Marco Wittmann and Robin Frijns. Nico Mueller made the most of the situation to jump into second position. The Abt-Audi driver was under investigation for a moment for a possible jump start, but no further action was taken. The race started clean, but by lap six the problems began. Phoenix drivers’ Mike Rockenfeller stopped on track with technical problems and at the same time his teammate, Loic Duval, stood in the gravel in the Sachskurve.
At that point, Paul di Resta made the decision to come into the pits. Soon after, Rast did the same but while he was in the pits, safety car got deployed to rescue Duval’s car. DTM’s rules say that you cannot make a mandatory pitstop under a safety car. Lucky for di Resta, he timed it perfectly and could continue without issue. Rast was still in the pits when the safety car was called so he had to make another stop.
In the laps after the re-start, two of the BMW drivers spun. Team RBM’s Sheldon van der Linde got touched by Jamie Green – a little later Marco Wittmann spun as well as he got hit by debutant Pietro Fittipaldi. Both Audi drivers received a drive-through penalty which they absolved soon after. At this point, Rast was flying through the field. He took over the lead from polesitter Eng and he kept pushing.
On lap 22 Rast came into the pits to get his second set of fresh tires and joined the track back in third place. One lap later, Robin Frijns made his first stop. Theoretically, di Resta could have finished the race like this – at this point, he was in the lead. Though he made the choice to pit again as soon as he noticed that his one-stop strategy wasn’t going to work. Remember, both he and Rast started from the fifteenth and sixteenth place on the grid. He dropped back to twelfth – but was on the freshest tyres of all drivers.
In the meantime, Rast had a 4.1s lead over Mueller in second place. A bit further down it was Frijns who chased down Bruno Spengler and after he passed him, he had another BMW driver in front. Eng, at that point, was 7 seconds free from the Dutchman.
Unrestricted DRS and push-to-pass were allowed in the final five laps of the race – this led to some overtaking possibilities. For example, di Resta and Jake Dennis were putting pressure on Joel Eriksson and due to a little mistake from the Swede, both Aston Martins could pass him. Di Resta wasn’t done yet as he made a move on Wittmann in seventh place. The BMW driver tried to come back but the Scotsman had more grip and held on to his position.
Meanwhile, Frijns looked to be the quickest man in the field as he chased down Eng and succeeded to pass him for the final podium position. The gap to his Audi teammate Mueller wasn’t too big, but eventually, the race was one lap too short. A very close finish between the two Abt drivers saw them finishing in second and third place. An untroubled final stage for Rast – as he crossed the finish line in the first position with a lead of 12 seconds. An incredible race for the 2017 champion.
It was a successful race for Audi with three drivers on the podium. BMW’s Eng, Spengler and Timo Glock finished in fourth, fifth and sixth position. A man who had a successful day in the office as well was di Resta. He crossed the line in seventh place and scored points again for Aston Martin. The final three positions of the top ten went to Wittmann, Green and Eriksson. Unfortunately, three drivers didn’t cross the finish line – both Phoenix drivers due to the incidents in lap six, and Daniel Juncadella, who parked his car in the garage three laps before the end.
DTM’s new era started off well – we’ve experienced two exciting races. The action continues in two weeks time at the Belgian track Zolder.