DTM Nürburgring: Rast eases to Race 1 win as Müller falters

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René Rast - DTM Series - 2019 Nürburgring
Credit: Audi Sport

Audi Sport Team Rosberg driver René Rast extended his DTM Series championship lead to 47 points over fellow Audi man Nico Müller with a commanding victory in Race 1 at the Nürburgring.

Rast took a lights-to-flag victory, his third in succession at the Nürburgring, finishing 10.7 seconds ahead of BMW Team RMG‘s Bruno Spengler and a further 6.5s ahead of the Canadian’s team-mate Marco Wittmann – who started a lowly eleventh place after a difficult qualifying.

Rast’s task was made easier by title rival Müller receiving a drive-through penalty for jumping the start from third on the grid, and Mike Rockenfeller‘s retirement with a reported engine leak on lap 25 of 41 from second place.

Prior to his stoppage, Rockenfeller had stayed a steady five seconds behind Rast after a solid start.

Despite Müller’s clear misdemeanour at the start, Rast held firm on the run down to Turn 1 to stay in the lead ahead of the Swiss driver, Rockenfeller, Spengler and Jonathan Aberdein in the independent Team WRT Audi.

Müller opted to take his penalty on lap 3, demoting him to the back of the 18-car field, before pitting for fresh tyres three laps later in the vain hope of an early Safety Car to bunch the cars back up.

His demise allowed Rast to breathe at the head of the field and open up a gap before his pitstop on lap 16, falling to ninth but keeping the net race lead.

Audi Team Phoenix also called Rockenfeller in at the same time, closing the gap by a couple of tenths with good work in the stop.

But the 2013 champion’s challenge came to an end in the pits under strict instructions from his engineer to shut the car down – TV pictures then showed traces of fluid where his car was parked.

Spengler didn’t waste his promotion to second, taking five seconds out of the coasting Rast’s lead while trying to pull away from the late-stopping Wittmann using his available DRS and Push-to-Puss allocations.

Bruno Spengler - DTM Series - 2019 Nürburgring
Credit: DTM

Wittmann had started to reel in the Canadian, but ran out of overtaking tools in the final few laps – having used a significant amount in an incredible scrap with Jamie Green and Aberdein in the immediate aftermath of his pitstop.

Aberdein took the spoils outside of the podium positions with a dogged drive to fourth place, ahead fellow Audi drivers Loïc Duval and Green.

Duval’s last-gasp surge boosted his position from eighth to fifth, fractionally ahead of Green and BMW Team RBM duo Sheldon van der Linde and Joel Eriksson.

The quartet were separated by just 0.7s at the flag, providing a fitting finish to a race-long scrap that prompted wild cheers from a healthy crowd.

Timo Glock and Robin Frijns rounded out the points-paying positions in ninth and tenth respectively, Frijns using a long first stint to have the benefit of fresh tyres at the end of the race.

The Dutchman pulled the move of the race at Turn 1 on lap 28 to pass Paul di Resta and Müller, spectacularly diving down the inside of the pair and managing to get the car rotated in good time.

Dani Juncadella narrowly missed out on points for R-Motorsport/Aston Martin in eleventh, falling victim to Frijns’ tangible tyre advantage in the final couple of laps.

Jake Dennis joined Rockenfeller on the sidelines as the only other retirement, also citing engine problems with his Aston Martin.

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