Written for and published by Prescott Motorsport.
In a race where all title rivals, Di Resta, Paffett and Rast, battled in the top-4, it was yet again René Rast who took the win. In a direct battle he defeated the Brits Di Resta and Paffett, while Audi managed to even place Nico Müller as a buffer between Rast and the Rest. Joel Eriksson drove another excellent race, the 19-year old rookie being the best BMW-driver in p5.
Gary Paffett secured the best possible starting position for the second race in Spielberg: he took pole right from under the nose of Nico Müller, who matched his best qualifying result this season. Championship leader Paul Di Resta had to commence the race from p3. Joel Eriksson was the best BMW in p5. René Rast, third contender in the championship and winner of yesterday’s race started, disappointing, from p7. The four points secured by Paffett and Di Resta in qualifying secured the DTM 2018 Manufacturer’s title for Mercedes, the Stuttgart-brand leaving the series on a high.
In contrast to yesterday, on Sunday the race started under sunny and dry conditions. Paffett sky-rocketed himself of his starting position and already had a small gap to Müller and Di Resta heading into turn 1. Right behind were Joel Eriksson for BMW door-to-door with Pascal Wehrlein, followed by René Rast. As Eriksson defended his position from Wehrlein, Rast took the opportunity to pass both and snatch 4th position. All title contenders were now in the top-4: Paffett in the lead, Di Resta in 3rd and Rast on p4. Müller was still on p2. Eriksson managed to win a spot in lap 1, now on p5, followed by Wehrlein, Mortara, Glock, Phillip Eng and Dani Juncadella.
In lap 3, Müller saw his chance to pass Paffett for the lead as he had a better exit out of turn 2. He was now in a position to help Rast get even closer to the two Mercedes’ that lead the championship. Paffett didn’t plan on letting that happen and tried the same move on Müller a lap later. Going over the track side-by-side for several corners, Müller managed to defend his lead for now. One lap later Paffett tried the same move yet again, with the same outcome: at the end of lap 6 Müller was still in the lead.
The fight for the lead did give those behind the opportunity to close the gap in front, Joel Eriksson was now right under Rast’s rear wing. 8 laps underway and the top-8 (!!!) was still within 3.5 seconds with mere tenths separating the gladiators from each other.
Wehrlein was the first out of the lead group from p6 to make his mandatory stop at the end of lap 10, some 15 minutes into 55-minutes plus one lap race. Joel Eriksson for BMW followed 4 laps later, the 19 year-old rookie rejoining the track right in front of Wehrlein and managed to defend his position on his cold tires.
At the end of lap 16 René Rast was the first of the title challengers to make his stop. A flawless stop brought him back on track well before Eriksson and Wehrlein. A minute later Paul Di Resta boxed as well and had to defend his position immediately from Rast: he came out right in front of the red RS 5 but couldn’t hold on to his position in the first corner that followed. Rast was able to pass his title-rival round the outside of turn 2. Eriksson for BMW was about 1.5 seconds behind Di Resta and closing in fast as well.
Attention quickly shifted back to pitlane as it were now the two race-leaders coming in: Müller before Paffett. They came out in the same order, but Paffett lost valuable seconds with his stop due to a stuck right rear wheel. This opened opportunities to Audi and René Rast, as he was able to pass Paffett in pitlane, while Audi could choose to position Müller, still in front of Rast, between him and the two Brits in the C 63’s. Paffett did came out in front of Di Resta, but the latter was able to close the gap quickly, Eriksson following right on his tail. This forced Paffett to defend his position and look in his rear view mirror, instead of trying to take the fight to Rast in front.
In lap 21 Di Resta took his chance using his Drag Reduction System (DRS) to overtake Paffett and take p3 (virtually, Jamie Green and Philipp Eng still had to stop). 4 laps later and it was the other was the other way around again: Paffett had a way better exit out of corner 2 and managed to pass Di Resta again. What an amazing fight between the two title-rivals this was turning out to be.
Out in front it took Rast a couple of laps to catch up to the rear wing of Müller in the lead, but in lap 28 the time had come. Müller, not surprisingly, didn’t put up too much of a fight to defend his lead from brand-colleague Rast and continued in 2nd.
At the beginning of lap 13 when everyone made his stop, the top-10 looked as follows: Rast was in the lead with Müller in 2nd. In p3, 6.5 seconds behind Rast it was still Gary Paffett, a second before Di Resta in p4 and Eriksson in p5. 3 seconds behind Eriksson was Wehrlein in p6, closely followed by Glock and Juncadella. Rockenfeller and Mortara were in p9 and p10.
During the last 10 minutes of the race only Juncadella fell out of the top-10 after a skirmish with the bright yellow M4 of Timo Glock, and so it was René Rast who took his fourth (!!!) race win in a row! After the double win at Nürburgring he now took another double in Spielberg. Müller secured p2, Paffett and Di Resta p3 and p4. Best BMW was rookie Eriksson in p5.
In the standings Di Resta still leads with now 229 points, 4 more than Gary Paffett with 225. René Rast closes in yet again and is now only 30 points behind Di Resta with 199, with still 56 points to win in the championship in the final two races. Best BMW is Marco Wittmann in 4th position, with 143 points.
Next and final round of the championship is in three weeks: from 12th to 14th October the DTM Finals are held traditionally at the Hockenheimring.