A second career victory came for Nico Mueller today after a commanding start. The Audi driver was joined on the podium by Philip Eng and Rene Rast. Disappointment for yesterday’s race winner Marco Wittmann who failed to finish.
It was a race where the starts would really matter. Rene Rast, who started from pole position, suffered a bad start allowing two fellow Audi drivers, Robin Frijns and Nico Mueller to pass him. Frijns took the lead and Mueller took second place. “The start this year is a very exciting moment”, Mueller said. “Because I think we are all not 100% confident and consistent in doing a good or a bad start. Today I had a good one.”
While trying to hold his position after a difficult start, Rast then got involved in a battle with Marco Wittmann and Jonathan Aberdein. Aberdein went on the inside of Rast, while Wittmann tried the outside line, resulting in going three-wide into the corner. Contact sent Wittmann off-track and led to retirement for yesterday’s race winner. A great shame, as he and Timo Glock celebrate their 100th DTM career race. The stewards didn’t give a penalty for it. “I haven’t seen anything from TV coverage so far”, Rast said in the press conference.
He continued: “I mean, Marco and me, we went side-by-side through Turn 6, down the straight. Marco braked late around the outside, and I was in the middle. And then Jonathan appeared on the left-hand side. We all turned in, I got a hit from left and then hit Marco. I couldn’t really avoid anything. That’s how it felt from the inside. I haven’t seen it from the outside as I said. Unfortunately for Marco, he couldn’t go back. I don’t know what he had, probably a technical issue after that hit. I’m sorry for him, it was not intentional or anything. I was just in a sandwich.”
Rast emerged with better luck, was able to recover and managed to get back in front. However, it wasn’t to last as on lap 14 of the race, he suffered a left-rear puncture forcing him to pit. Clearly, his luck hadn’t completely run out, as it didn’t appear to lose him too much time – he rejoined in 10th place. Frijns pitted at the same time and came back in 12th position. Two laps before Frijns’ pitstop, he and Loic Duval had contact which caused the Dutchman to spin and earned Duval a drive-through penalty. Frijns dropped back to seventh place, but in the end, managed to finish the race in fourth. Duval finished the race in 11th place.
Someone who managed to profit from Rast’s puncture was Nico Mueller. After his pitstop, he controlled his race and tires perfectly and made no mistakes on his way to the finish line. The only car he had to pass was Jake Dennis, who hadn’t made his mandatory pitstop. Mueller crossed the line with a healthy lead – 7.6 seconds clear of Philipp Eng in second.
Mueller was clearly delighted with the end result. “Awesome. I mean, we’ve worked very hard for that one. And for a way too long time as well.” Said the race winner. “The boys really deserved this. I think they’ve put lots of passion in it. As well as myself. I think we’ve been very close a few times. And to finally make it happen, here in Misano is awesome. So, I’m super happy.“ This was his first win since Norisring 2016 and the team’s first since Spielberg 2017.
Eng, who had to battle his way past Rene Rast, felt confident about his move in Turn 10: “I decided at that moment, I think that’s what we all do. We just rely on our instincts. I just felt like I could make it. And I made it stick. Also yesterday I did one or two good overtakes on the brakes. So I felt pretty confident. Rene just did his best to bear with me.”
Pietro Fittipaldi, in only his sixth ever DTM race, finished fifth – his best result so far. Joel Eriksson crossed the line in sixth, just in front of Jonathan Aberdein after an exciting battle. Rounding out the top 10 are Bruno Spengler, Sheldon van der Linde and Mike Rockenfeller. Spengler battled with guest starter Andrea Dovizioso halfway through the race, but unfortunately, the Ducati MotoGP rider spun on lap 31. Dovizioso finished the race in 15th. Having clearly enjoyed his weekend, he thanked Audi Sport for the opportunity.
Today’s best-placed Aston Martin driver was Ferdinand Habsburg in 12th. Jake Dennis and Daniel Juncadella followed him in 13th and 14th. Unfortunately, Paul di Resta, Timo Glock and Marco Wittmann didn’t finish the race.
Now that the first three race weekends are over, let’s have a brief look at the championship standings. Rast is leading with 93 points. 10 points behind him, with 83 is Eng, followed by Mueller with 76. Small gaps as you can see. Wittmann is fourth so far with 68 and 2013 champion Mike Rockenfeller is in fifth with 51 points. As we know from the past, being consistent is very important. The drivers now have a little break, as the next round is in four weeks time.
DTM returns for the fourth round of the season, at the always exciting Norisring. A fantastic track where a good qualifying is very important. It’s bound to be another exhilarating weekend.