Rast bolsters championship lead, wins landmark DTM race at Lausitzring

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René Rast - DTM - 2019 Lausitzring
Credit: DTM

René Rast breezed to victory at the Lausitzring in the DTM Series‘ 500th race to extend his lead in the Drivers’ Championship to 20 points over Audi brand-mate Nico Müller.

Audi Sport Team Rosberg driver Rast recovered from an early retirement in Saturday’s Race 1 to win from fourth on the grid 5.1 seconds ahead of the early-stopping Müller and Mike Rockenfeller in another all-Audi podium, as the marque wrapped up the Manufacturers’ title with two rounds remaining.

Rast took full advantage for poor starts for Jonathan Aberdein and Müller in second and third place respectively to launch onto the tail of Team Rosberg Audi team-mate Jamie Green into Turn 1, with the British driver letting Rast into the lead in a seemingly choreographed move on lap 4 of 34 before Turn 6.

The German never looked in danger of surrendering his lead, immediately building a comfortable gap over the chasing pack and extending it further after his sole pitstop on lap 12.

Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline decided that an early stop on lap 8 for Müller would help him escape from traffic in the midfield, the Swiss cooped up behind the BMW Team RMG car of Marco Wittmann at the rear of the top 10.

Team Phoenix Audi also decided that Rockenfeller would be able to atone for an average qualifying performance by stopping at the same time and trying to nurse the fragile Hankook tyres to the end – nearly 30 laps away.

The strategy worked effectively for the Audi duo, as they were able to edge their way back onto the podium positions – despite a long queue forming behind the pair for the majority of the last 10 laps.

Müller managed to clear the threat of Rockenfeller towards the end of the race through more effective tyre management, and the latter having to fend off a fierce challenge from Green on fresher rubber.

The result ensures that Rast heads into the next round at the Nürburgring with a 20-point lead over Müller, with Wittmann effectively falling out of contention with a sixth place finish to follow up his Saturday result of fourth.

Robin Frijns finished where he started in fifth, but received a warning from the race stewards for moving excessively in defence of his position against the Team RMR BMW of Philipp Eng in the mid-part of the race.

Wittmann made it past Aberdein for sixth with a move at Turn 6 in the closing stages of the race – the South African then had to be aware of Loïc Duval having very fresh tyres at the end of the race after a long first stint.

Pietro Fittipaldi‘s ninth place for Team WRT ensured that all Audi cars finished inside the top 10, with Eng ending an abrasive race with a solitary point.

Three of the R-Motorsport/Aston Martin entries retired with car failures, Ferdinand Habsburg and Paul Di Resta stopping at the side of the track while Jake Dennis ended his race in the pits after the third lap.

Timo Glock joined them on the sidelines, despite the best efforts of the BMW Team RMR squad in the garage.

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