Nico Müller takes his second career win in Misano thriller
Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline’s Nico Müller produced a strong drive in a race full of drama at Misapn to score his second DTM victory, fellow Audi driver at Team Rosberg René Rast hindered by a puncture.
At the start Robin Frijns and Müller moved to the head of the pack, with Rast squeezed between the Swiss racer and WRT’s Jonathan Aberdein.
Rast continued struggling for grip in the early stages and ended up in a three-wide battle into Turn 8 with Aberdein and BMW Team RMG’s Marco Wittmann, with Rast pushing Wittmann out of the track. The BMW driver had to retire, with his car recovered without a safety car intervention.
BMW Team RMG driver Timo Glock pitted at the end of the first lap, but had to retire three laps later with a gearbox problem.
Rast started his move for the lead on lap seven, overtaking Müller for second place a lap later and taking the lead from Frijns on lap nine, quickly opening a gap.
Müller also had a stab at his team-mate, overtaking Frijns for second place on lap ten. The Dutch racer continued losing ground, falling prey to Team Phoenix’s Loïc Duval, who had overtaken Aberdein for fifth position.
Duval, however, tagged Frijns into a spin on lap 11, an incident that allowed BMW Team RBM’s Philipp Eng to close the gap to Aberdein. Eng overtook Aberdein for fourth position at Turn 11 on lap 13. Duval would receive a drive-through penalty for the incident.
The second turning point of the race happened as Rast suffered a puncture on lap 14, losing a lot of ground as he limped back to the pits
Eng pitted at the end of lap 16, returning to the track just behind Rast, but with cold tyres. Müller pitted from the lead a lap later, rejoining the race just ahead of Pietro Fittipaldi, who was the first among those to have pitted at that point, in the RS 5 DTM from Team Rosberg.
Rast and Eng overtook Fittipaldi on lap 19, with the Brazilian attacking the Austrian as the BMW driver tried to keep up with Rast.
A decisive point in the race was when the leaders came to lap Duval, with Müller going through on lap 20. Rast was approaching the Team Phoenix driver, but Eng saw a chance to get ahead and managed to overtake Rast for second place on lap 21.
R-Motorsport’s Jake Dennis was the last driver without completing the mandatory pit stop, leading the race and with Müller rapidly closing the gap. The Swiss overtook for the lead on lap 25.
Further back, Aberdein and BMW Team RBM’s Joel Eriksson battled for sixth position, both coming side-by-side for half a lap on lap 28, with the South African overtaking the Swede for sixth place.
Drama ensued again as Andrea Dovizioso spun several times at Turn 16, stopping in the middle of the track. The Italian managed to keep the engine running to rejoin the race with no outside assistance.
Frijns overtook Fittipaldi for fourth position at Turn 8 on lap 35 but, despite Rast flatspotting his right front tyre a couple of laps earlier, the Dutchman was unable to close the gap to the Team Rosberg driver. Eriksson also managed to get back to Aberdein to recover sixth place on the last lap.
At the chequered flag, Müller took his second ever DTM victory, ahead of Eng and with Rast completing the podium.
Frijns defended from Fittipaldi on the last lap to finish fourth, with Eriksson taking sixth position ahead of Aberdein. BMW Team RBM’s Sheldon van der Linde and Audi Sport Team Phoenix’s Mike Rockenfeller completed the top ten.
After the third round of the season, Rast leads the championship with 93 points, ten over Eng and 16 ahead of Müller. Wittmann now lies fourth, 25 points behind Rast.
The next round of the DTM takes place at the Norisring from the 5th to the 7th of July.