Timo Scheider won the penultimate round of the DTM season at Adria in Italy, while Bruno Spengler regained the championship lead from Mercedes HWA teammate Paul di Resta after a difficult race for the Scot.
The race was shortened to 21 laps after a dramatic crash for Alexandre Premat brought out the red flags at the end of the first lap. Contact took place between the Frenchman and Maro Engel as the pair completed the first lap. Premat's Audi speared off to the left and into the barrier, digging into the ground and rolling several times. The destroyed car came to rest against the wall, and Premat extracted himself from the cockpit a few moments later before walking away.
Prior to the red flag, Spengler had taken the lead from polesitting teammate Gary Paffett, while di Resta was spun around by Mike Rockenfeller at the final corner, dropping the Scot to the back of the field. Scheider meanwhile had made up several places on the first lap to move into seventh after starting back in 15th.
After the restart, Scheider took sixth from Markus Winkelhock. On lap 13 Mattias Ekstrom took third place from Jamie Green, who then lost out to the Audis of Oliver Jarvis and Scheider as well.
Scheider moved up to third once drivers had started to make their first pitstops, and took second when Paffett spun soon after. Spengler struggled in his second stint, allowing Paffett to get past him in the second round of stops.
Scheider didn't make his first stop until seven laps to go, before making his second stop two laps later. This allowed him to keep the lead that he had gained when the leaders made their first stops. He won from Paffett and Spengler, ahead of Winkelhock, Jarvis and Rockenfeller. Engel finished seventh, ahead of Ekstrom, who was delayed in the pits. Di Resta had made his way back up to seventh, before contact with Miguel Molina dropped him back to ninth.
Scheider was delighted to have won the race. “Driving from P15 to P1 is incredible,” he said. “I was able to advance superbly on the first laps. After that, the guys did a perfect job. The key today was that I was able to drive for an extremely long time on used tires. This morning I was joking that I'd be driving the race of my life today – and that's exactly what happened.”
Paffett said: “We knew it would be difficult in these conditions. The track was slippery and then my rear tyres faded. Moreover, I made a mistake and spun. However, I'm still in the title race – let's wait and see what will happen in Shanghai; everything is open.”
Spengler said: “My start was great and I took the lead. Later, my rear tyres didn't work so well anymore and I was sliding a lot. Only after my second pit stop the situation improved. I thank my team for a great job in difficult conditions. I look forward to a great finale in Shanghai.”
Di Resta said: “I am disappointed. It could have been a good race, but I dropped back again and again caused by some incidents. It was a crazy race with good opportunities for me, but now I am leaving with empty hands. But everything is possible in Shanghai.”
Head of Audi Motorsport Wolfgang Ullrich said: “We can be proud of the safety of the DTM cars which has always been of paramount importance to us when designing the regulations. Safety will again be the number-one priority for the next generation of the DTM cars. I hope that further medical checks will confirm that Alex has suffered no injuries.”
Norbert Haug, Vice President of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport said: “Fortunately, Alexandre PrÃ©mat's accident didn't have any serious consequences and rightly the cars' safety always had top priority in the DTM – today you could see how important and right this is. The championship will remain open until the finale at Shanghai and Bruno, Paul and Gary can all clinch the title – that will be a great finale of a great season.”