René Rast claimed his third consecutive Nürburgring pole position in the DTM Series in qualifying for Race 1, also extending his championship lead to 22 points over Audi Sport stablemate Nico Müller.
The Audi Team Rosberg driver’s lap time of a 1:19.642, set late on in the 20-minute session, was enough to beat BMW Team RMG‘s Bruno Spengler to pole by 0.180 seconds and take the three bonus points – with Müller starting from third, 0.266s back.
Marco Wittmann‘s championship challenge looks to have effectively come to an end as he could only manage eleventh in the second Team RMG BMW – his gap to Rast in the standings now stands at a growing 70 points.
Rast also led the first set of runs in the opening stages of the session at a sunny Nürburgring with a 1:20.170, 0.047 ahead of his nearest challenger Mike Rockenfeller.
The championship leader succeeded in keeping his Hankook tyres in good condition to set three flying laps, but all drivers had to commit to two warm-up laps in order to get the tyres in working range.
A lack of time in the session’s natural five-minute second stage, and the continued necessity for an extensive warm-up period, meant that each driver would realistically have one chance at bettering their times.
While big improvements were unexpected, times did start to fall into the 1 minute 19 seconds range – with Rast opening up a commanding gap in a previously tightly-packed field, despite running slightly wide at Turn 1.
Spengler, Müller, Rockenfeller and Audi Team WRT‘s Jonathan Aberdein all joined Rast in the sub-1m20s bracket to complete the top five.
Spengler’s second place marks his first appearance in the top three in qualifying since Zolder Qualifying 1 in May.
Aberdein’s fellow South African Sheldon van der Linde had sparked the chain of improvements by knocking Rast off of provisional pole for a brief moment, but he had to settle for sixth at the end of the session for BMW Team RBM.
Timo Glock recorded his third consecutive top 10 start in seventh, a fraction under 0.5s adrift of polesitter Rast for BMW Team RMR.
Loïc Duval headed a three-car Audi train at the bottom of the top 10 in eighth, ahead of Jamie Green and Robin Frijns; Green failed to perfect his run through Turn 1 and trouble the frontrunners in the session.
Paul Di Resta finished as the lead R-Motorsport/Aston Martin car in fifteenth, ahead of Joel Eriksson in the second Team RBM BMW and inside a second adrift of Rast’s time.
Thirteenth-placed man Philipp Eng ground to a halt on the exit of Turn 4 reporting a gearbox problem to his BMW Team RMR crew and will start Race 1 from the pitlane.
[table id=4105 /]