After starting from the second place on the grid, Rast could pass the BMW of Sheldon van der Linde and lead the race until the chequered flag. The final stages of the race got chaotic when fighting for the final podium spot.
A great start for Van der Linde saw him keep ahold of the lead, while Rast struggled a bit and lost out to Philipp Eng. Thanks to a small mistake from the BMW driver he could pass him and retake second position. In the first few laps, we saw Robin Frijns battling with Timo Glock. By lap four, the Audi driver passed Glock on the inside in a great move going into turn one. Juncadella and Spengler did their pitstops early, hoping for a similar situation to yesterday with a possible safety car.
Meanwhile, Rast was slowly but surely closing the gap to van der Linde in the lead. By lap seven, the gap between the two was just over 0.6s. Because this track is very hard on the tyres, Rast had to think smart – managing when to apply pressure to the BMW in front and when to back off. Four laps later, he made the move going into turn one, and he took the lead. Both he and Van der Linde made their pitstops soon after.
We saw some hard but fair battles between the two blue cars – Eng and Frijns. Very small gaps between them left no room for mistakes. While Frijns was putting pressure on Eng in front of him, Glock closed the gap to Frijns. The top-five at that point still had to pit – Wittmann being the first to dive into the pit lane from the lead. He rejoined in 10th place, just behind Glock. The fresh rubber was clearly helping, however, as he soon made his way past Glock.
But on lap 22 while battling for fifth place, Wittmann hit the rear-left of Frijns’ car and spun him off track bringing out the safety car. Though unlike yesterday, almost everyone absolved their mandatory pitstops already. Several drivers took a gamble and pitted for the second time. Jake Dennis and Jamie Green profited from that risk while Wittmann received a drive-through penalty for the incident with Frijns.
Five laps later the race could resume. Making the most of the restart was Rast – who kept his lead and quickly started creating a gap to the field behind. Mike Rockenfeller also had a great restart, claiming two places which put him up to fourth. Green pulled off a great move by overtaking both Glock and Dennis in one corner. Having pitted behind the safety car, Green made the most of his fresh rubber and began to fly through the field. In the final laps, he was constantly putting pressure on van der Linde, who got passed by Eng a little earlier. It wasn’t until the last lap that he made a move on the South African BMW driver and succeeded.
Rockenfeller, who was behind him, aggressively attempted to dive down the inside. He didn’t manage to get third place from Green, but he did take fourth place from van der Linde – who in the end finished in fifth after starting from pole.
In the midfield, the gaps were closer than ever. Dennis, in the Aston Martin, pulled out a great move which put him in sixth place. The best result of this season for the new manufacturer. Unfortunately, he is the only member of the squad who finished the race. Paul di Resta couldn’t make the starting grid, as the team couldn’t fix the problems he suffered from in qualifying. Both Ferdinand Habsburg and Daniel Juncadella were forced to retire their cars halfway the race. A shame for the whole team, but it’s all part of the learning curve.
Bruno Spengler, Nico Mueller, Pietro Fittipaldi and Joel Eriksson finished the race in seventh to the tenth position. Another two points for the Belgium-based team WRT.
After two race weekends, BMW’s Philipp Eng is leading the championship with 59 points. Only five points behind him is Rene Rast with 54 points, followed by Wittmann with 43. In three weeks, we go to Misano, Italy for the third round of the season. MotoGP star Andrea Dovizioso is joining Audi Sport, replacing Fittipaldi who has other duties in Formula One.