Edoardo Mortara battles his way forward from position eight to three
Decision in all three championships to be made only in last raceSuspense galore in the DTM: Following an impressive comeback by Audi driver Edoardo Mortara in the first of the two final races at the Hockenheimring, the decision in the battle for the drivers’ title will only be made on Sunday, in the last race of the year. The manufacturers’ and teams’ classifications remain open as well.
Miguel Molina in the Teufel Audi RS 5 DTM of Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline, from grid position two, went on to celebrate a commanding victory in Saturday’s race. The Catalonian managed to overtake the BMW of António Félix da Costa right on lap one and to significantly pull clear of the field afterwards. “My car was simply fantastic to drive today,” beamed the Catalonion following his third DTM success. “That wasn’t the case yet yesterday and this morning in free practice. But the team did a great job. From qualifying on, my car was perfect.”
The television cameras, however, were primarily focused on the green-blue Castrol Audi RS 5 DTM driven by Edoardo Mortara. After the runner-up in the standings had not gotten to drive a lot in the two free practice sessions, he had to settle for position eight in qualifying, while his rival for the title, Marco Wittmann (BMW), secured a place on the second row of the grid.
In the early stage of the race, Mortara lost some ground due to a tussle with Wittmann’s teammate Timo Glock. But the Audi driver kept a cool head, saved his use of DRS for the crucial final stage, and went on to snatch one BMW after the other. In the end, he crossed the finish line trailing Marco Wittmann by only 1.144 seconds. As a result, with a 17-point deficit, Mortara continues to be in contention for the title before the finale.
“Following the issues in practice, it was an outstanding race,” said Mortara. “Advancing from eighth on the grid to third is good for the show, yet anything but easy. I knew that my chance would come at the end of the race, because that’s the strength of our Audi RS 5 DTM. Except for Timo (Glock), all BMW drivers were very fair. Now I’m hoping for us to show a similar performance tomorrow and to be able to make up the 17 points.”
On delivering a strong overall performance on Saturday, Audi made a major step towards clinching the manufacturers’ title. With Mike Rockenfeller (Schaeffler Audi RS 5 DTM), René Rast (Red Bull Audi RS 5 DTM/Audi Sport Team Phoenix) and Jamie Green (Hoffmann Group Audi RS 5 DTM/Audi Sport Team Rosberg) in positions five, six and eight, a total of five Audi drivers finished in the points. Before the last race, with 98 points that can still be scored, Audi now has a 61-point advantage over BMW. In the teams’ classification, Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline extended its lead to 26 points on Saturday, with 43 points yet to be awarded here.The only drivers to finish out of the points were Adrien Tambay, who in the Speedweek.com Audi RS 5 DTM advanced from position 21 on the grid to twelfth place, Nico Müller in the Playboy Audi RS 5 DTM in position 15, and Timo Scheider who in the AUTO BILD MOTORSPORT Audi RS 5 DTM saw the checkered flag in 16th place
Accordingly, Dieter Gass, Head of DTM at Audi Sport took positive stock of the day: “Following a less than perfect qualifying, this was a fantastic race result for Audi. We couldn’t have expected more than that. Edo (Mortara) showed a brilliant performance and managed the race intelligently. He made believers out of everyone today who may have had doubts and at least maintained his chance of winning the championship. Miguel (Molina) made good use of his chance and delivered a first-class performance. So did René Rast, who in his first ‘real’ DTM race immediately scored quite a few points. Mike (Rockenfeller) was strong as well. It was a good race. Our chances for the championship are still intact. We can build on that tomorrow.”
The all-decisive last race of the 2016 DTM will start on Sunday at 15:15 local time (live coverage on “Sportschau” starting at 15:00 on “Das Erste”).