Text: Rick Kiewiet
Images: DTM Media
For the first time in history, DTM joined forces with another race class. The new rulebook that was adapted by both DTM and Super GT makes the cars interchangeable. Where the Super
GT cars still have a slight aerodynamic advantage, the DTM cars feature DRS and Push to Pass. Besides, the Super GT cars also have to get used to the Hankook tires used in DTM. To be able to equalize the cars for the planned joint-race at Fuji on 22-24 November, three Super GT cars join the DTM finale this weekend at Hockenheim. Jenson Button is driving the Honda NSX. Qualifying and the Saturday race will be run without a Balance of Performance, for Sunday this might very well be.
For the eighth time this season, René Rast took Pole in his Audi RS 5. In the rain he defeated Marco Wittmann in the BMW M4 by a tenth. This meant that the best Audi and best BMW of the season would go head to head towards the first corner. Rockenfeller, Aberdein and Duval were next for Audi, ahead of the first Super GT car: Jenson Button qualified his Honda NSX-GT in 6th. Best of the Austin Martins was Dani Juncadella in p12. Ryo Hirakawa in the Lexus LC500 and Tsugio Matsuda in the Nissan GT-R R35, qualified on the last row. Both drivers drove on the Hockenheimring for the first time.
A big disappointment ahead of the start, as the Nissan GT-R of Matsuda didn't get off his grid position for the formation lap. The sprint towards the first corner was won by Rast, ahead of Wittmann. Button lost a place to Timo Glock in the BMW, who took Aberdein as well a corner later. Glock was clearly on a charge, as he went on to overtake Loïc Duval at the exit of the hairpin. Same place, same time, Rockenfeller passed Wittmann for p2.
Aberdein had a bad exit out of the last corner of lap 1, giving Button the opportunity to come alongside. The South African rookie managed to defend his position a corner later, Button had to wait. This however gave Müller the opportunity to take p7 from the Honda, and in the hairpin Frijns also succeeded to get by. Button was now in 9th. Ryo Hirakawa in the Lexus decided to take a gamble and made a very early pitstop, hoping for a safety car at the early stages of the race.
Müller was penalized a couple of laps later for leaving the track and gaining an advantage during the start, and had to drop back to p11, to give position back to Joel Eriksson. Button was now back in p8.
10 minutes into the race and the top 10 was somewhat settled. Rast and Rockenfeller managed to create a small gap to Wittmann in 3rd. Glock, Duval, Aberdein and Frijns were behind with all about a second between them. Jenson Button also managed to get into his rhythm and pulled a 1.5s gap towards the Aston Martin of Jake Dennis in p9.
Timo Glock was first of the top-10 to make is stop by the end of lap 10. Van der Linde rejoined ahead of the former F1 driver when he made his stop a lap later. By that time, Wittmann had caught up back to the rear wing of Rockenfeller, and placed a successful assault on p2 at the Mercedes grandstand.
Rockenfeller made his stop by the end of lap 15, together with Frijns. The latter rejoined right in front of Glock who'd already passed Sheldon van der Linde. On his cold tires, he was not able to defend the first attack Glock placed. The M4 was now third of the cars that already stopped, hunting down Aberdein now who was not far ahead.
Wittmann, who closed the gap towards Rast, decided to go on the attack and stop before the fresh DTM champion in lap 17. Button followed in his footsteps. He rejoined well ahead of Rockenfeller, who couldn't pose a threat to the M4. Rast came in a lap later. Rast came out just in front of Wittmann, who was on warm tires, but he was saved by a safety car to tow the BMW of Philipp Eng. Wittmann had to stay behind. The safety car phase was debatable to say the least, as Eng seemed to had parked his car on a safe place on the straight towards the hairpin.
With 20 minutes to go, the safety car came back in. Now that everyone made his mandatory stop, the top 10 looked as follows: Rast was still in the lead, Wittmann in second. Rockenfeller, Glock, Müller, Frijns, Aberdein, Duval, Fittipaldi and Dennis followed. Due to a suboptimal 17 seconds pitstop, Jenson Button had dropped back to p15.
At the restart, Frijns and Müller switched position. Wittmann immediately put the pressure on to René Rast. Frijns did the same towards Timo Glock, but was under pressure himself from teammate Müller. The first successful move was made by Robin Frijns, followed by Müller who both got passed Glock.
A lap later Wittmann finally managed to get passed Rast with a nice move in the hairpin. The white-green M4 was now in the lead. He couldn't get away from Rast however and a lap later the roles were the other way around. Rast took back the lead with a great move around the outside in the hairpin. As the focus was on the battle for the lead, one could easily miss that Müller had taken p4 from Frijns in the meantime.
Rast now opened up a small gap towards Wittmann of 1.5s. 3.5s further back were Rockenfeller and Müller now battling for p3. Frijns had dropped back another 3.5 seconds. Behind Timo Glock and Loïc Duval, Jake Dennis and Paul Di Resta led a group from p8 to p15. Button, who was at the back of this group at the time of the restart, by now had worked himself up to p12 in the NSX.
With some 7 minutes to go, Müller overtook Rockenfeller in the run up towards the hairpin. He was now on the last podium spot. Further back, Di Resta overtook Jake Dennis and had managed to open up three second gap. Behind him, things really started to heat up with some three minutes to go. Spengler attacked Dennis first, which forced Green behind to slightly slow down. This gave Button the opportunity to squeeze his Honda passed the white-orange RS 5 to p11. Only one more car, Dennis, to pass to put his gorgeous blue Japanese racer in the top 10 on his debut.
Surprisingly, Müller came in for a second stop with only a minute (plus three laps due to the safety car phase) to go. He must have had a problem as the stop made no other sense at all. He was then also penalized with a drive through for speeding in the pitlane a lap later, completely ruining his race in two laps. This however helped Jenson Button into the top 10. A lap later he even got passed Jake Dennis to claim p9.
At the head of the field, not much changed. René Rast secured his 7th win of the season with a 1.6s gap towards Wittmann in p2. Rockenfeller completed the podium, ahead of Frijns, Duval, who got passed Glock in the last stage of the race. Paul Di Resta got a good result for Aston Martin in p7 ahead of Bruno Spengler. Jenson Button put in an amazing performance and finished the race in p9, showing huge potential for the Super GT cars in DTM.
Race results click here.
Championship standings click here.
Race highlights with English commentary: