René Rast claimed a crucial three points to extend his lead in the 2019 DTM Series championship by taking pole position in the qualifying session for the first race at the Lausitzring.
The Audi Sport Team Rosberg driver recovered from two relatively quiet Friday Free Practice sessions and a lacklustre first run in qualifying to record a time of 1:35.241 in the closing stages of the 20-minute shootout, and beat his Team Rosberg team-mate Jamie Green to pole by 0.045 seconds.
Audi Sport locked out the top four places in the grid, with second-placed man in the championship Nico Müller starting Race 1 from third – ahead of Robin Frijns in the other Team Abt Sportsline car.
Marco Wittmann was once again the lead BMW Motorsport car for Team RMG in fifth place, over three-tenths behind Rast.
Audi started qualifying by picking up from where it left off on Friday, the first set of runs culminating in four Audis in the top five – but, Wittmann’s second place punctuated its superiority.
Mike Rockenfeller initially looked like the top pick for pole position with a 1:35.595, 0.067 ahead of Wittmann, with doubts appearing over the viability of noticeable improvements after the session’s natural break in running.
Müller and Rast could not get on the pace straight away in sixth and eighth respectively, Rast admitting that he “overdrove” his car on his first set of timed runs and needed to make up nearly a three-tenths deficit to provisional poleman Rockenfeller.
But Rast was not to be denied a sixth pole position of the season, setting a session’s best middle sector on his way to eclipsing Rockenfeller’s fading benchmark.
Contrary to the majority of the field, Green stayed higher up the track on the run to the finish line and had to settle for a narrow second best behind Rast – but comfortably ahead of a frustrated Müller in third place.
Rast has now taken 27 points in qualifying over the course of 2019, a welcome contribution that has helped him build up a 39-point lead in the championship heading into the home stretch of the season.
Robin Frijns continued his qualifying form with fourth place, ahead of Brands Hatch Race 1 victor Wittmann and former pacesetter Rockenfeller.
Pietro Fittipaldi also made it into the top eight for the second race in succession with seventh for Audi Team WRT, just clear of the second-best BMW of Philipp Eng.
BMW did however round out the top ten through Timo Glock and Joel Eriksson being the final two men below a lap time of 1:36.000.
Jake Dennis put in a sterling performance to take the honours in the R-Motorsport/Aston Martin battle, qualifying in a commendable thirteenth position and putting the South African pairing of Jonathan Aberdein and Sheldon van der Linde between himself and Paul Di Resta in the next-quickest Aston Martin.
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