As the first qualifying of the penultimate round draws to a close, championship leader Rene Rast celebrates his seventh pole of the season. The grid looks a little more mixed as BMW’s Bruno Spengler starts from second.
The sun was shining at the Nurburgring this morning, something not so common as conditions can change very quickly at the track located in the Eifel. Though temperatures are not too high so it took a while for the drivers to get their tyres up to temperature. In the first half of the session, Rast already topped the timesheets with 1:20.387. Though, his eventual pole time was set on the second run in the final minute. A 1:19.642, an impressive time compared to 2017’s pole time – which was a 1:20.936.
“It’s been a good qualifying.” Rast commented after the session. “The car was working really well. Thanks to the team, they did an awesome job. I just had to nail the lap, which worked out. So, I’m very happy.”.
Bruno Spengler will start this afternoon’s race from second on the grid. The last couple of races Audi mostly dominated the qualifying sessions, though today it was a little more mixed. The gap from Rast to Spengler was 0.180 seconds. Lining up on the second row on the grid, are Nico Mueller – who is currently second in the championship – and Mike Rockenfeller. For Rockenfeller and his team, this weekend’s races will be a little more special, as it is their home-race – their factory is based just 5 km from the track.
Dieter Gass, Head of Audi Motorsport, praises his two championship contenders for their strong results: “Rene this year in the qualifying is really incredible. Thirty points already now, only in the qualifying is really massive. Nico is there in the second row right behind Rene at the start. So, we have both championship contenders up there in the front. I hope we can keep them there, that would be a big step towards the drivers’ championship.”
Jonathan Aberdein, one of the five rookies on the grid this season, has been impressive in qualifying all year. He will start the race from fifth. Starting alongside him is another rookie and fellow-South African Sheldon van der Linde. Timo Glock is the third and final BMW starting from the top ten in seventh. He is followed by another trio of Audi drivers – Loic Duval, Jamie Green and Robin Frijns.
Marco Wittmann, third in the championship, will start just outside the top ten in 11th. One minute before the end of the session, we had a yellow flag caused by Philipp Eng. The BMW driver parked his car just off the track thanks to a gearbox issue, he qualified 13th.
Just like yesterday, Paul di Resta is the best-placed Aston Martin R-Motorsport driver in 14th. Jake Dennis, Daniel Juncadella and Ferdinand Habsburg will start from 16th to 18th. Thanks to a five-place grid drop, Habsburg could save himself a fresh pair of tyres for the race and got out of the car while others were doing their second runs.
Rast receives three points for his pole, rival Mueller only one for qualifying third. Which means he now has a 22 point lead over Mueller going into this afternoon’s race, which will start at 13.30 local time (12.30 UK time).