After taking pole position in qualifying, Jamie Green took his first victory since the season finale at Hockenheim back in 2017. More to celebrate for Audi as Rene Rast, having finished third in the race, is crowned champion with one round to spare.
Championship leader Rene Rast lined up alongside Jamie Green on the front row of Sunday’s race. As the lights went out, Rast stole the lead from Green heading into turn one. The Audi pair were followed closely by Mike Rockenfeller and Loic Duval. Nico Mueller, who had to start from 14th on the grid after a disappointing qualifying, struggled to make up places as he was surrounded by the Aston Martin drivers. As he had to try to keep his championship hopes alive, he pitted at the end of the tenth lap.
In the opening phase of the race, Rast couldn’t shake off his teammate as Green stayed within a second. Rast was the first of the pair to come in for his mandatory pitstop, a lap before his teammate. Green’s stop was significantly quicker, so when he rejoined the track, he was in front of the championship leader. While trying to get the temperature in his tyres, he had to defend hard from Rast. He succeeded and kept the virtual lead.
After the majority of the drivers made their stops, Mueller was running in fourth, behind Duval, though, he struggled to get past the Team Phoenix driver. His teammate Robin Frijns pitted on lap 17 and thanks to fresher tyres was charging through the field. First, he got past Mueller and soon after he also made the move on Duval, taking third place. Lapping around a second quicker than everyone else, Frijns quickly closed the gap to Rast. On lap 34, he got past the 2017 champion and took second place.
With this move and the positions Rast and Mueller were in, the championship would not be decided until the season finale at the Hockenheimring. However, as Mueller was stuck behind Duval again, Jonathan Aberdein managed to close the gap to Mueller and eventually made the move on the penultimate lap of the race. As a result, Rast’s third place would be enough to win the title.
“I can not believe it yet.” Said Rast after the race. “What a year! We were extremely strong almost everywhere. To get the title before the last race weekend is unbelievable. A big part of that is because of Team Rosberg, who has worked fantastically. And of course, Audi: the Audi RS5 DTM was the best car this year with the best turbo engine.”
Frijns continued his good pace and managed to close the gap to 0.4 seconds to leader Green. On the penultimate lap of the race, he made a pass on Green at the chicane but ran through the grass. Because of this, he had to give back the position and crossed the line four-tenths behind the Brit.
Loic Duval finished fourth, followed by Aberdein and Mueller. Despite Mueller’s best efforts, after starting from 14th, his sixth place wasn’t enough. This was also his 100th DTM start. “Obviously, I’m happy for Audi, happy for Rene. They’ve done a very good job so they definitely deserve it. But I would have loved to keep it open until Hockenheim.” said the Swiss Abt Sportsline driver. “It is at it is, now the clear target is to try and beat the reigning champion in the last two races at Hockenheim.” Rockenfeller finished seventh, making it an all Audi top seven.
Philipp Eng crossed the line in eighth as the best BMW. Timo Glock recovered well, after contact with Sheldon van der Linde earlier in the race, which caused the German to spin. Van der Linde received a drive-through penalty for it and finished last. After finishing second in yesterday’s race, Bruno Spengler rounded out the top ten.
Best of the Aston Martin drivers was Daniel Juncadella in 12th, with teammates Jake Dennis and Ferdinand Habsburg in 14th and 15th. Unfortunately, the fourth R-Motorsport driver Paul di Resta was not able to start the race due to a problem on his car which the mechanics couldn’t fix in time for the race.
The only driver who did not make it to the chequered flag was Marco Wittmann. After a brief loss of power in the final stages of the race, he dropped to the back of the field but continued. However, one lap later he was forced to retire the car. Wittmann had been in contention for the championship until Sunday’s qualifying.
So, the championship has been decided today – Rast clinched his second DTM title. Funnily enough on the same day as when Kelvin van der Linde won his second GT Masters title. The pair raced together in the series back in 2014 and won the championship.
DTM will be back in three weeks at the Hockenheimring for the season finale with three Super-GT cars joining them. Wittmann can still challenge Mueller for second place in the championship, while three more drivers – Rockenfeller, Eng and Frijns – have a chance to be third.