British Mercedes-AMG driver Paul Di Resta won an exciting Saturday night DTM race under the floodlights at Misano, ahead of Audi driver Robin Frijns.
In the first night race in DTM history, Di Resta came out on top with his Mercedes-AMG C 63 DTM. “I am absolutely happy. This was a perfect day, even though the race was difficult,” he said after the finish.
“This victory was a major step in the championship. But it was anything but easy, it was hard work. I hope that I can sleep well and that my car is top again tomorrow.”
With his third victory of the season, the Scot reduced the gap to championship leader Gary Paffett to only one point.
Robin Frijns took his maiden DTM podium finish. He fought hard against Edoardo Mortara, who defended his second position, before finally having to concede the place to the much quicker Audi RS5.
“I was already fast at Brands Hatch, but unfortunately, I didn’t score any points. Today’s race was great fun. The final lap, in particular, was sensational,” said Frijns, who still found a way past Mortara with a spirited overtaking move on the final lap.
“Edo had made a mistake from which I was able to benefit. And then, he left me some room. That was a great duel.”
Philipp Eng had a fantastic race, having started from 18th on the grid, the Austrian worked his way up to first place, but eventually, he finished eighth with his BMW M4 DTM.
Eng told reporters,“I had hoped for that first win for my team and me so much. The race was thrilling. There was some contact back and forth, and at the end, my car wasn’t in perfect condition anymore.”
A couple of safety car interventions and the subsequent Indy style restarts added to the excitement. The first one from lap 9 to 12 followed after contact between the two Mercedes-AMG drivers Mortara and Paffett that led to the early retirement of the latter with front suspension damage.
The second safety car period, on lap 14, was due to contact between Lucas Auer and Joel Eriksson, which also earned Eriksson a drive-through penalty.
DTM guest driver Alex Zanardi drove a good race. With his BMW, the multiple Paralympics gold medallist took the flag in 13th place. “I am super happy,” said the Italian, who raced without his prosthetic legs in a specially developed race car.
“For me, there are many reasons to smile. And I have learned a lot of things that I want to use in the second race tomorrow.”
In the DTM drivers’ standings after 13 of this season’s 20 races, Paffett remains in the lead. With 177 points, he is only one point ahead of Di Resta (176). Mortara (118) is third from Marco Wittmann (112) as the best-placed BMW driver. Lucas Auer (Mercedes-AMG, 110) and Timo Glock (BMW, 107) are fifth and sixth respectively.
The second DTM night race at Misano gets underway on Sunday at 22.30 hrs CET.