Text: Rick Kiewiet
Images courtesy of DTM Media
René Rast reached legendary status last weekend (if he hadn't already by winning the championship in his rookie-year): the former 24h of Le Mans winner is the first driver to claim all Pole Positions ánd race wins in one weekend. After the Pole Position and win of Saturday, he repeated this dominant performance on Sunday. Paul Di Resta recovered from a bad day at the office Saturday and profited from Gary Paffett's pit stop drama to almost recapture the championship lead, after losing it the day before.
The front-row of the grid was exactly the same as on Saturday: René Rast in the Audi RS5 was fastest with new championship leader Paffett in the Mercedes C 63 right behind. 3rd was Philipp Eng in the BMW M4, so yet again the first grid positions were nicely divided by the three DTM-manufacturers. Paul Di Resta again didn't have a great qualifying session and ended on p11, Jamie Green was on p15.
When the lights went out at the start it was Lucas Auer who launched himself from 5th to 2nd and even peeked a little on the outside of René Rast. The pole sitter managed to keep the orange Mercedes from the young Austrian behind him. Paffett lost his 2nd position and dropped back another a couple of turn later when Timo Glock took third, forcing the Brit to take a little off road excursion at the exit of the second hairpin. He was given an official warning from race control for his actions. Paul Di Resta had an amazing first lap, climbing from 11th to 7th in his chase for Gary Paffett. Jamie Green suffered a puncture and was forced to make a lap 1 pitstop.
Glock, not wanting to settle for 3rd, charged forward to put the pressure on Lucas Auer. At the beginning of lap 3, he decided he'd waited long enough and made a very optimistic move on Auer in the hairpin after start-finish. Too optimistic it turned out, as he quite bluntly rammed 'Luggi' on his right-rear wheel, forcing him into a spin, coming to a halt right before Glock and blocking his way. Both could rejoin, sadly for them with the whole field in front of them. Glock was also served a drive-through for his actions afterwards.
The Auer vs. Glock case and its outcome threw 2nd place back into Paffett's lap, with Paul Di Resta now in 5th. Now that the Scot was in a significant better position than yesterday, Paffett was inclined to take a little more risk to overtake Rast in the lead. He put the pressure right on Rast, but for now, Rast was able to resist the blue C 63 of the the Brit behind.
Things spiced up considerably at the beginning of lap 8, as Rockenfeller, until then quite comfortably in p3, missed his braking point and went wide in the first corner. This immediately cost him a place to Spengler and threw him back right in front of Di Resta. The latter, seeing his chance, didn't wait a corner and instantly placed his Mercedes on the inside of the Audi, moving up to 4th.
Rockenfeller now had a couple of M4's breathing down his neck: Wittmann lead the charge, before Eng and Eriksson and the battle for p5 was on. It took former champion Marco Wittmann only a lap to get passed the green RS5, but the delay this caused made it possible for Wehrlein, Farfus and Müller to also find the connection to this group. As Wittmann quickly pulled away, this was now the battle for p6.
Eng made a fantastic move on Rockenfeller a couple of turns later: he went round the outside of 'Rocky' in the first righthand corner and managed to stay there until turn 2, which was a lefthander. Mission accomplished: Eng was now p6.
In front it was still Rast leading with a 1.1 second gap to Paffett. Spengler followed in 3rd some 2 seconds behind, then it was Di Resta at 7 tenths, Wittmann and Eng, all with some 1,5 seconds between them. Eriksson and Farfus managed to get passed Rockenfeller as well and Pascal Wehrlein closed the top 10. Remarkably, over 20 minutes into the race, and still only Jamie Green made his stop.
At the end of lap 18, way beyond the midway-point of the race, it were Rast (Audi) and Eng (BMW) who opened the dance of the pitstops. Paffett, some 1,5s behind, decided to go on a little longer, trying to profit from Rast's cold tires right after his stop. Rast and Eng rejoined in p11 and p12.
Two laps later Paffett came in for his mandatory tire change, Wittmann and Eriksson followed. But disaster struck for the Brit and his HWA Mercedes Team, as the right rear wheel didn't want to fit back on to the car. Costly seconds were lost until finally the tire was fit. Wittmann and Eriksson were already gone beyond the horizon and the championship leader rejoined in 10th, 4th of the cars that already stopped but it was likely Spengler and Di Resta would be able to come back on track after their stop in front of Paffett.
Di Resta came in a lap after and indeed rejoined in front of Paffett. Wittmann, Eriksson and Philipp Eng were also between them. Spengler, pitted a lap later and came back right in front of Di Resta. On cold tires, he was unable to keep Di Resta behind him who moved up to virtually (as Mortara, Frijns, Juncadella and Auer still hadn't stopped) 2nd.
When the late stoppers finally made their stop, it was Rast back in the lead before Di Resta, consolidating a 6 second gap to the Scot. A second behind was Wittmann with at 1,5 seconds behind him Bruno Spengler. Paffett managed to get by the BMW's of Eriksson and Eng, and was now 5th, Farfus, Wehrlein and Müller completed the top 10, all with around a second between them.
Star of the last phase of the race, not for the first time this season, was Robin Frijns: the Dutchman managed to move up from 14th after his pitstop, back into the points in p10 at the finish. Rast managed to drive to the chequered flag unthreatened, becoming the first ever driver to take full score over a whole DTM race weekend of two races. 2nd was Di Resta who managed to recover some of the points he lost yesterday when he scored 0 points. Final podium spot was for Marco Wittmann, the one former champion beating another as Spengler finished 4th. Championship leader Paffett came in 5th, losing valuable championship points to Di Resta.
Gary Paffett still leads the championship with 206 points, but Paul Di Resta is now only 2 points behind. René Rast's amazing weekend and the accompanying 56 points moved him up from 7th to 3rd with 149 points. Mortara drops down to 4th scoring a double 0 with 138 points and Marco Wittmann is the best placed BMW-driver in 5th with 137.
The next round of two races is in Spielberg the 21st to 23rd of September.
Full race results click here.
Championship standings click here.
For highlights (video) of the race click here.