History-maker Rast claims superb Nurburgring win

by Nathan Hine
Rene Rast, Paul Di Resta, Marco Wittmann- 2018 DTM Series Podium, Nurburgring Race 2

The Defending DTM Series champion, Rene Rast, had the perfect weekend at the Nurburgring, with the Audi Sport Team Rosberg driver seeing off the challenge from both Mercedes-AMG drivers of Gary Paffett and Paul Di Resta to claim his third win of the year.

Behind Rast was the fast-charging Paul Di Resta, who executed a fabulous recovery drive, moving his way from 11th on the grid to second by the end of the race with BMW driver Marco Wittmann completing the podium.

Unlike yesterday, Rast came under pressure in the early laps from Gary Paffett, despite the Mercedes-AMG driver having to recover from a sluggish start which saw him drop down to fourth in the opening corners of the race.

But Paffett soon regained second place when Timo Glock dive-bombed Lucas Auer into turn one, which saw Glock make contact with the Mercedes driver, which saw them both facing the wrong way. Glock was subsequently awarded a drive-through penalty, but both of their races were ruined there and then, with Auer later retiring from the race due to damage sustained in the crash.

Philipp Eng made a similarly made a sluggish start from third on the grid, which saw the BMW driver trapped in the pack which would compromise his whole race thereafter.

After a decent showing in practice, Mike Rockenfeller was looking good for a strong showing until on lap eight, he locked up in a major way into the first corner, gifting third and fourth places to Bruno Spengler and Paul Di Resta respectively. So after languishing in qualifying and suffering a dreadful first race, Di Resta certainly recovered well in the second race of the weekend.

And things soon looked even better for the Scot, when his championship rival, Gary Paffett, endured a botched pit-stop when a sticking right-rear tyre cost him any chance of a podium finish. Then, the Scot was able to dispatch of Bruno Spengler, with the Canadian sliding around on cold tyres out of the pit lane, making him easy pickings for the Mercedes driver.

Marco Wittmann showed his superior pace in the second half of the race and was able to make light work of Spengler to grab the final podium place.

After his pit-stop drama, Paffett had to make crucial on-track overtakes stick, picking off the BMW pair of Joel Eriksson and Philipp Eng which gave him fifth place, where he would ultimately finish the race.

Behind Paffett was Eriksson, Augusto Farfus, Eng, Pascal Wehrelin and Robin Frijns, who completed the points-paying positions.

Despite the best intentions of Di Resta, Rast would not be denied the double here at the Nurburgring which has made him the first driver to have claimed every championship point on offer over a course of a race weekend in the modern era of the DTM Series.

“It is hard to find words to describe the weekend at the Nürburgring. It will be almost impossible to top this in the next races. I was on the second page of the drivers’ standings and now I am in third place,” Rast surmised.

“Now, we are looking ahead. Everything is possible and many things can happen. We have closed the gap.” 

As the DTM Series now heads to the Red Bull Ring on 22-23 September, Gary Paffett leads the championship by 2-points over Paul Di Resta, with a dominant weekend by Rene Rast has elevated the defending champion up to third place, some 57 points behind Paffett with four races to go this season.

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