Nico Müller “back in contention” for DTM title after Saturday win

Nico Müller says he’s firmly back in the DTM championship battle after taking the maximum 25 points in Saturday’s race at the Lausitzring with his title rival René Rast forced to retire.

Müller’s gap to Rast is now just 14 points with five races remaining, with Rast only picking up three points for pole position after dropping out of the race after just nine laps.

Not only did the Swiss driver score his third career DTM win but, along with second-placed Robin Frijns, he helped Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline to become the first team to achieve a 1-2 finish in the new turbo DTM era.

“I finally had a good qualifying again today – not perfect, but good,” explained Müller. “From third on the grid, I was immediately able to improve to second position.

“Marco [Wittmann] was pretty strong at the beginning. But I also had the feeling that I was faster than René.

“When he started to have his problem I took the lead and afterwards was able to easily control the pace. I feel sorry about René. I would have rather battled with him on the track.

“But, obviously, I’m happy to take home the 25 points. We’re back in contention. I can hardly wait for racing to continue tomorrow.”

Head of Audi Sport Dieter Gass referred to Audi’s podium sweep, which was rounded out by third-placed Mike Rockenfeller, as a “strong team performance”.

“That we again finished in the top three with three cars is a fantastic achievement,” he said.

“Congratulations to Nico, who drove an impeccable race. Unfortunately, René was struck exactly by what I’ve always said: In the DTM this year, something can happen at any time and one should never feel too sure.

“He lost a possible 25 points today. Fortunately, all the other Audi drivers were there to prevent Marco Wittmann from benefiting from this to a greater extent. That was a strong team performance.”

While the drivers’ championship is still very much in contention, Audi could lock up the manufacturers’ title in Sunday’s landmark 500th DTM race.

It currently has a 328-point advantage over BMW and only needs to maintain a lead of 304 points heading into the next round at the Nürburgring.