René Rast beat Nico Müller in a straight fight in Race 2 of the DTM weekend at Brands Hatch, as Audi Sport claimed the top four places after a dominant qualifying.
Rast finished 0.2 seconds ahead of Müller, who overturned the disadvantage he suffered through a slow tyre stop, with Robin Frijns scoring his first podium since the opening round at Hockenheim in third – just half-a-second behind Rast.
The German has now increased his points advantage to 37 points over Müller and 59 points over Race 1 winner Marco Wittmann, who could only take one point from the race in tenth place after qualifying a disappointing twelfth.
Loïc Duval pressed Rast from the start, briefly taking the lead around the outside of Paddock Hill Bend, but the 2017 champion held firm into Druids to retain the lead into Turn 3.
Jamie Green also looked lively from fourth place and battled with Frijns for third, but was forced to yield by the Dutchman on the exit of Druids.
Both Frijns and Green were placed under investigation for start position transgressions, with the Brit handed a five-second time penalty for irregular placement – Frijns survived the investigation and escaped any punishment.
Müller had been slightly out of position in sixth, but soon jumped up to third past Green, Frijns and Mike Rockenfeller with a blistering start.
The Swiss driver then swarmed all over the back of Duval in the fight for second, as Rast started to stretch his legs in the opening stages of the 42-lap race.
Müller wasted little time in catching leader Rast, closing the gap to a second by the start of lap eight.
Wittmann had made slight progress further back and reached eighth place behind Philipp Eng, with BMW Motorsport looking to eat into Audi’s qualifying advantage.
BMW Team RMG decided to pit Wittmann early in a bid to take him out of the turbulent air from Eng’s car, demoting him to fifteenth place on lap 10.
Audi followed BMW’s lead by pitting Rast and Müller the next lap, but a delay on the left rear delayed the latter and dropped him behind Rast and Wittmann.
A slow zone caused by Joel Eriksson stopping on the pit straight at around the midway stage triggered BMW into pitting Wittmann for a second time from sixth to finish the race on fresh tyres.
It dropped the two-time champion to twelfth and outside the points, but the slow zone prevented the loss of any more places.
At the front, Müller had attached himself back to the rear of Rast’s car and stood a second off the German on lap 33 – before taking a huge six-tenths of a second out of his lead the following lap.
The closest Müller could get was 0.3 seconds before Rast started to increase his pace with the remaining life in his tyres.
The pair’s battle allowed Frijns to join the tail to give Audi a tighter-than-expected formation 1-2-3 finish after 42 laps, the top 10 all finishing within eight seconds of each other.
Duval’s wait for a first podium since Misano continues with a third fourth place finish of the 2019 season, half-a-second ahead of the highest-placed BMW – driven by Eng.
The pair had contact at Surtees when Eng tried to make a move on the inside, but fortuitously survived without spinning or receiving notable damage.
Rockenfeller bettered his Saturday race finish by one position in sixth place, and stayed in the hunt for a podium finish in the middle part of the race.
Sheldon van der Linde took the honours in the battle of the South African drivers to finish seventh, gifted the place by a late spin from an under pressure Jonathan Aberdein at Surtees corner.
Dani Juncadella and Jake Dennis ensured that Aston Martin would have a more positive end to its home weekend with eighth and ninth respectively for the R-Motorsport run team.
Dennis held off the challenge of Wittmann on much fresher tyres in the last 10 laps to score his first points finish in three races.
Paul di Resta was left hugely frustrated by a very slow pitstop after a long first stint, but managed to finish in fourteenth ahead of the two-stopping Green.
Bruno Spengler and Eriksson retired in quick succession with engine-related issues, compounding a trying race for BMW.
|7||31||Sheldon van der Linde||BMW||+4.7|
|8||23||Daniel Juncadella||Aston Martin||+5.2|
|9||76||Jake Dennis||Aston Martin||+6.1|
|11||62||Ferdinand Habsburg||Aston Martin||+12.0|
|14||3||Paul di Resta||Aston Martin||+35.3|