Edoardo Mortara took his first DTM Series victory with Mercedes at the Lausitzring in a disastrous race for Audi.
The Italian had been part of the Audi squad between 2011 and 2016, taking eight victories in that time – the last of which being the 2016 Hockenheim finale.
After narrowly missing out on the title in 2016 the Italian moved to Mercedes and endured a difficult season with the team last year.
Starting seventh Mortara almost under the radar got to the front of the field to take the victory.
Championship leader Timo Glock was once again on the podium in second.
BMW rookie Philipp Eng followed up a strong qualifying performance to finish third in just his third race in the championship.
The race got underway in disastrous fashion for Audi.
Nico Müller had not been able to pull away from the grid and was unsighted by team-mate Jamie Green behind who ran into the rear of Müller as it was too late to avoid him.
Debris was strewn all over the pit straight with the safety car being called upon to neutralise the action on track. Due to the amount of carbon fibre littering the track the safety car led the field through the pit lane to allow for the clean up.
Action resumed with just under forty minutes on the clock, meaning the safety car had been on track for almost fifteen minutes, however it did not last for long.
One racing lap had not even been completed when reigning champion René Rast suffered a horrifying crash.
Whilst battling with team-mate Loïc Duval the pair made contact which sent the German flipping in the air and destroyed his RS5 – thankfully despite the ferocity of the crash Rast managed to walk away unscathed, only complaining of a sore elbow.
Fans watching at home missed the crash as at the time an interview with Müller was being broadcast with their first knowledge of the incident being the shocked reactions of Rast’s team-mates Müller and Green.
Duval too was forced to retire from the race as a result of the collision.
The decision was made to red flag the race to allow for the damaged Audis to be collected and any debris on track to be removed.
All the drivers remaining in the race headed to the grid and lined up in their new formations.
Racing action resumed once more with just over twenty-two minutes on the clock with the safety car leading them off the grid and guiding them round for one lap.
Dani Juncadella and Robin Frijns were given drive through penalties for infringements on the safety car restart – Frijns had already also been handed a five second penalty for jumping the start of the race.
After three laps of racing action, Bruno Spengler, Eng, Paul di Resta and Mike Rockenfeller dived into the pits to serve their mandatory pitstops.
Then, race leader Auer took to the pits the next lap along with Pascal Wehrlein, Marco Wittmann and Juncadella.
Although Juncadella was serving his drive through on this instance rather than stop for fresh tyres meaning he would have to return to the pits later in the race.
They emerged amongst the earlier stoppers, with it becoming a challenge of who could get in front and theoretically take the lead of the race.
An update about @ReneRastRacing: His x-rays were normal, but the doctors have decided to keep him in the hospital overnight for observation. They have denied the approval for him to compete in @DTM race 2 tomorrow. #DTM #DTMLausitzring #ranDTM #LeagueofPerformance pic.twitter.com/JGT0x1jPf2
— Audi Sport (@audisport) May 19, 2018
Pitting early usually is the better strategy but today it seemed those who went longer in the race benefitted the most.
When Glock stopped he came out ahead of Auer, before Eng passed the pair with a daring move into Turn 1.
Mortara left his stop as late as he dared and put in a pair of stunning laps to find himself in second place before a DRS-assisted move got the job done on Eng.
Glock too got passed Eng thanks to DRS and kept with the Italian in front as Eng fell into the clutches of Auer and Spengler but held them off to take his first podium in the DTM Series.
Having at one point fallen out of the top ten di Resta recovered to take sixth place ahead of the duelling German duo Wehrlein and Wittmann.
The BMW came out on top with the Mercedes driver finishing just ahead of second place man in the championship Gary Paffett.
Augusto Farfus was the last of the points finishers.
Rockenfeller in eleventh and Frijns in thirteenth were the only Audi finishers.
Joel Eriksson was twelfth for BMW.
Juncadella was the last of the finishers.
This result means that Glock has extended his lead at the top of the standings to eighteen points – it was one at the start of the day.
Free practice three gets underway at 9.00 local time tomorrow ahead of qualifying two at 11.25 for race two at 13.00.
Rast went to hospital for checks with his results coming back clear but the doctors are keeping him in overnight for observations meaning he will not be taking part in Sunday’s track action.
2018 DTM Series Results: Lausitzring – Race 1
|6||3||Paul di Resta||GBR||Mercedes||58m00.281|