Photo: Tamara Aller

René Rast recovers from stalling on the grid to win at the Norisring

Audi Sport Team Rosberg’s René Rast made the most of a first-lap pit stop to score a strong victory at the Norisring after stalling on the grid, leading an Audi 1-2 ahead of Team Abt Sportline’s Nico Müller.

Rast stalled on the grid, narrowly avoided by all the cars behind him. Pole-sitter Müller was able to keep the lead ahead of Bruno Spengler, who got ahead of fellow BMW driver Philipp Eng at Turn 1. Norisring specialist Jamie Green made his way from tenth on the grid to fourth at the end of lap one.

Team WRT’s Pietro Fittipaldi was victim of several collisions at Turn 1, parking his Audi RS 5 DTM on the exit of the corner. The safety car was called into action on lap four, with half of the field having already pitted, Rast and BMW’s Marco Wittmann among them.

The race was restarted on lap ten and Müller kept the lead, despite going three-wide with Spengler and Eng in the first corner. Team WRT’s Jonathan Aberdein and BMW’s Timo Glock collided at Turn 7 after the BMW driver was tagged by team-mate Sheldon van der Linde, with the German driver retiring from the race whilst the Aberdein was able to rejoin the race.

Green was defending from team-mate at Team Rosberg Rast’s attacks, as the 2017 champion was running on fresh tyres compared to the Briton. Green attacked Eng for third place at Turn 7 three laps later, making the move stick this time, with Eng pitting at the end of that lap.

Rast made use of his better tyres to overtake Green for third place on lap 20.

Further behind, Audi Sport Team Phoenix’s Mike Rockenfeller was recovering ground from the back of the grid following his penalty from qualifying. But a technical issue on lap 26 saw him limping back to the pits, with fellow Audi driver Robin Frijns also retiring from the race due to a technical issue.

Race leader Müller pitted at the end of lap 30, the last of the leading group to do so, handing the lead of the race to Rast.

Meanwhile, BMW Team RMG’s Marco Wittmann was running third, but lapping significantly slower than his competitors. R-Motorsport’s Daniel Juncadella started to close the gap to the BMW driver, with the Spaniard getting in DRS distance by lap 47. But both would soon be joined by Müller, who had tyres that were far less worn.

The Swiss driver overtook Juncadella on lap 53, attacking Wittmann two laps later at Turn 1 for third place, with BMW driver Joel Eriksson four seconds ahead as his next target.

Meanwhile, Juncadella kept the pressure at Wittman and overtook the Team RMG driver at the chicane, with Wittmann also losing a place to Duval. The Frenchman would also overtake Juncadella a lap later.

The last moments of the race were spiced by Müller fighting with Eriksson, trying the outside at Turn 1 with three laps to go. The Audi driver managed to get ahead of the Swede in the last corner of the last lap, claiming second place by just a tenth of a second.

Duval finished fourth ahead of BMW’s Bruno Spengler, who overtook Juncadella with two laps to go. Eng finished seventh ahead of Wittmann, as R-Motorsport’s Jake Dennis and Ferdinand Habsburg completed the top ten.

Rast has strengthened his championship lead to 118 points, 21 points ahead of Müller in second place.

DTM action resumes on Sunday morning at 10:35 CEST with the qualifying session for Race 2.