Written for and published by Prescott Motorsport.
In a race characterized by too many overtakes to count, it was René Rast who scored a sovereign victory from Pole. Championship leader Paul Di Resta’s race was ruined in the early stages of the race while Gary Paffett scored a podium with a third place finish. He retakes the lead in the championship with now only 5 races to go.
In qualifying, the top spots were nicely shared between the three manufacturers Audi, Mercedes and BMW. René Rast took what was only Audi’s second Pole of the year. Runner-up in the championship, Gary Paffett, put his Mercedes C63 2nd on the grid, while championship leader Paul Di Resta was only 8th. First BMW on the grid was the matte black M4 of Bruno Spengler in 3rd, which was the former 2013 champion’s best grid position of the year. Lucas Auer (Merc), Marco Wittmann (BMW) and Philipp Eng (also BMW) were in 4th, 5th and 6th. Third Brit on the grid Jamie Green put his Audi RS5 on 14th.
At the start it was René Rast who took the lead as the field squeezed itself into the first hairpin. Paffett could not attack the reigning champ and had to settle for 2nd place. Closely behind were still Spengler, Auer, Wittman, Eng, Juncadella and Paul Di Resta. At the tail of the field there was a small get-together between Edo Mortara, 3rd in the championship, and Robin Frijns, forcing the latter into a spin in corner 1. The Dutchman could rejoin chasing the field, only losing a second or 4, Mortara later got a warning for forcing another driver of the track.
Paul Di Resta, knowing that his closest contender for the championship Gary Paffett was in 2nd, quickly had to move up through the field to defend his lead. First victim of his crusade was Spaniard Dani Juncadella at the beginning of lap 2, taking 7th position.
6 laps into the race a leading group started to emerge: Rast, Paffett and Spengler opened up a 3-second gap to 2nd group of Auer, Wittmann, Eng and Di Resta. The fights Auer vs. Wittmann and Eng vs. Di Resta were fierce and close to say the least, with multiple contacts between all of them.
Fastest car on track was clearly the red Audi RS5 of René Rast, now starting to increase the gap to Paffett to over 2,5 seconds.
First of the front-runners to make his mandatory stop was Lucas Auer from 4th at the end of lap 10, some 20 minutes into the race. A lap later he was followed by Marco Wittmann from (now also) 4th. Attention quickly shifted back to the track were Di Resta decided he was held up long enough by Philipp Eng and placed a daring move at the outside of turn 1. He managed to stay on the outside through the corner which became the inside line of the next, forcing Eng to capitulate and hand over 4th position to the Scot.
This merely lasted a couple of hundred meters as a corner later the tables were turned: it was now Eng who came up to the inside of Di Resta in the next left-hander. Di Resta, either not noticing the Austrian on his inside or trying to defend his position, didn’t leave enough room, or Eng took too much but the result was the same: Di Resta was hit and suddenly faced the wrong direction. Eng lost two positions to Glock and Farfus, Di Resta rejoined in 11th. Di Resta made his stop immediately after, came back on track and was handed the red lantern: any hope for points was lost. Painful, as Paffett was still in 2nd, earning him 18 points at the chequered flag: enough to retake the lead in the championship.
Race control judged the incident a few laps later, putting the blame on Eng who was not completely beside Di Resta and hit him on his left rear wheel. He was served a drive-through for his action.
Bruno Spengler saw his chances to move up to 2nd, as Paffett clearly wasn’t going to take a lot of risk defending his position as Di Resta’s race was already ruined. It took Spengler only 2 laps to catch up to the blue C 63 in front and passing Paffett in the hairpin after start finish.
Right before the halfway-mark, René Rast brought in his Audi to take on some fresh rubber, followed by Paffett, handing over the lead to Bruno Spengler. Both stops went flawless and the cars rejoined in 8th and 9th with a considerable gap to Wittmann, who was first of the earlier stoppers.
Leader Spengler now had an 8 second gap to Glock in 2nd, the other late stoppers were Pascal Wehrlein, Rockenfeller, Duval, Müller and Mortara. It was now hammertime for Spengler, who started putting in some blistering lap times as Rast was still warming up his tires. This sometimes takes up more than a lap, since tire warmers are not allowed in DTM.
Sadly for Spengler it was not enough. As the Canadian made his stop some 4 laps later, he rejoined, still a second or 4 behind Rast. While he was running on cold tires, Paffett took the opportunity to catch up to the black M4 and tried to pass on his warmer slicks. A lap and a half later, Spenglers tires were also up to temperature and the opportunity was lost. On newer tires, Spengler quickly pulled a 2 second gap.
In the final stages of the race an immense fight evolved for 6th position in the race. Jamie Green was leading, followed by Frijns (who got hit by Mortara in lap 1 and made a very early stop), Wehrlein, Farfus, Ericsson and Juncadella. Frijns’ first attempt to pass Green immediately resulted in a warning from race control for the Brit as he pushed his fellow-Audi driver of the track. This gave Farfus behind the opportunity to take 10th a few turns later. He managed to pass Green as well two laps after.
Frijns, starting to suffer from the fact that he was on by far the oldest tires, was now dropping down as Wehrlein started to move up. The latter passed Frijns and a lap after also took Green. Müller followed in his tracks.
With 15 minutes to go and all drivers made their mandatory stop, it was Rast leading again. 5 seconds behind was Bruno Spengler with Gary Paffett at 1,5 seconds. Marco Wittmann in 4th was running more or less in no man’s land, with 6 seconds behind him Timo Glock. The battle for 6th was more interesting with Auer, Farfus and Wehrlein within one second. Rockenfeller and Müller completed the top-10 and were not far behind.
First it was Wehrlein who overtook Farfus in the chicane before start finish. This gave a little air to Auer. Rockenfeller was now practically in the gearbox of Farfus. Wehrlein moved on and rapidly caught up to the rear wing of Auer. A lap later he placed his move in the hairpin and moved up to 6th. Next up to entertain the masses were Rockenfeller and Farfus: the latter losing his position in the first corner and now down to 9th, in the same lap Rockenfeller also passed Auer and was now 7th. A lap later Farfus lost another position, this time to Loïc Duval who started 18th (!).
In the meantime, with only 5 seconds to go, late-stopper Glock had caught up to Marco Wittmann and passed his team-colleague in the hairpin. He now was on his way to try to catch up to Paffett who was only 2 seconds in front.
Rockenfeller, on fire in the final stages of the race, also passed the silver C 63 of Pascal Wehrlein to take 6th position in his 150th DTM race.
In the 2nd to last lap the gap between Rast and Spengler had shrunk to only a second, while Glock had caught up to Paffett with now only tenths between them. Glock, clearly in the faster car and knowing the importance of points for Paffett, didn’t have the patience to wait for the right opportunity: he made a move on the outside of the NGK-chicane, easy to defend for Paffett, and forcing himself of the track. Opportunity lost.
In front, Spengler couldn’t close the gap any further and so René Rast took his second victory of the season. In third came Gary Paffett, retaking the lead in the championship. Glock and Wittmann in their BMW’s took 4th and 5th, Rockenfeller was 6th, followed by Wehrlein, Duval, Farfus and Müller.
Paffett now leads the championship with 194 points, 8 points more than Di Resta with 186. Mortara is 3rd with 138, Wittmann now 4th and Rast moves up to 5th.