Robin Frijns has secured his first-ever DTM win and to make it even sweeter, it happened in front of his home crowd on Saturday 5th September 2020. In the first race of the season in which spectators were allowed, the 29-year-old from Maastricht delivered the first DTM race win by a Dutch driver since Christijan Albers at Estoril back in 2004. Frijns, who had been unable to convert four pole positions this season, came out on top in a thrilling three-way battle in the race between his rivals Loïc Duval, who had started in pole position, and the championship leader, and new father, Nico Müller.
“I had to wait almost three years for this moment,” said Frijns. “I came close very often, but something always happened. I’ve been on the podium in the DTM a couple of times, but never at the top. It’s fantastic that it happened here at Assen where fans were allowed back in for the first time. There really couldn’t have been a better place for my first DTM victory.”
Before the race even started there were a lot of debates about tyre strategy. Not only had there been a downpour over the TT Circuit just after qualifying, leaving several wet patches, the asphalt in Assen that had only been replaced in February which also caused uncertainty as to the right tyre strategy. All drivers eventually started with slick tyres and the one-stop strategy turned out to be the correct choice for most.
Duval had a great getaway from first on the grid and did everything right at the front of the field and defended his lead well but it wasn’t long before he saw Frijns growing increasingly large in his rear-view mirror. With just seven laps remaining, the local hero made the decisive move and moved up into the lead. Duval followed closely behind with Müller on his tail, so that Frijns had to work hard to defend his lead until the finish.
Nico Müller had a few grip issues in the opening lap, dropping from second on the grid to sixth. “I was stuck next to Robin (Frijns),” said Müller. “When you lose so many places at the beginning, a third-place is still a good result. The tire wear was not as high as we all expected. I had a great pit stop which allowed me to pass René (Rast). Thanks for that one to the team! I’m very pleased for the guys and also my teammate Robin, who managed his first victory at his home race – very well deserved. He has often shown he can do it. Now he’s finally proven it black on white.”
The BMW Motorsport drivers weren’t as fortunate in Saturday’s race with sixth place being the best they could do but it was a personal best for Johnathan Aberdien. “In sixth place, I was the best BMW driver, and it was my best result of the year, but we can’t really be pleased with the result, particularly with our deficit to Audi. We need to put our heads together and work hard on closing the gap.”
“I didn’t expect Robin to win here at Assen where tire wear is usually particularly high,” said Head of Audi Motorsport Dieter Gass. “I am all the more happy for him. We were very concerned about the tires before this race and had even planned two pit stops for some cars. But with the damp track at the beginning of the race, tire wear was less than expected. All drivers managed to get through with one stop. We saw fantastic racing, the 14th pole position in a row for Audi in the DTM and another 1-2-3-4-5 victory.”
DTM Assen Race 1 Results
|ROBIN FRIJNS||AUDI SPORT TEAM ABT SPORTSLINE||53:45.729|
|LOÏC DUVAL||AUDI SPORT TEAM PHOENIX||+0.505|
|NICO MÜLLER||AUDI SPORT TEAM ABT SPORTSLINE||+0.950|
|MIKE ROCKENFELLER||AUDI SPORT TEAM PHOENIX||+3.188|
|RENÉ RAST||AUDI SPORT TEAM ROSBERG||+13.735|
|JONATHAN ABERDEIN||BMW TEAM RMR||+26.768|
|SHELDON VAN DER LINDE||BMW TEAM RBM||+31.336|
|FERDINAND HABSBURG||WRT TEAM AUDI SPORT||+31.604|
|TIMO GLOCK||BMW TEAM RMG||+36.888|
|ROBERT KUBICA||ORLEN TEAM ART||+43.576|
|LUCAS AUER||BMW TEAM RMR||+45.131|
|HARRISON NEWEY||WRT TEAM AUDI SPORT||+46.632|
|PHILIPP ENG||BMW TEAM RBM||+56.845|
|MARCO WITTMANN||BMW TEAM RMG||+1:05.216|
|FABIO SCHERER||WRT TEAM AUDI SPORT||+1:23.093|
|JAMIE GREEN||AUDI SPORT TEAM ROSBERG||DNC|
Race two at Assen is on Sunday 6th September with the grid lining up at midday local time.