Defending champion scores 109 of 112 possible points in Belgium
Nico Müller still within striking distance after finishing in second place
New DTM record: 15 pole positions in one season for Audi
After his fourth consecutive victory, title defender René Rast from Audi Sport Team Rosberg will travel as the leader of the standings to the DTM finale at the Hockenheimring, which will take place on November 7 and 8.
The two-time DTM champion won all four of the races at Zolder, Belgium, in his Audi RS 5 DTM and has turned a 47-point deficit into a 19-point lead within nine days. The German claimed 109 of 112 possible points in Belgium – maybe his masterpiece.
“I’m pretty speechless,” said Rast after his 23rd victory in the DTM. This has put the Audi driver on par with Mattias Ekström and Gary Paffett, who, with 23 wins each, are third in the DTM’s all-time list of the drivers with the most wins. Only Bernd Schneider and Klaus Ludwig celebrated even more victories. “With the many safety car periods, it was a very difficult race today. A lot could have gone wrong, but it all worked out for us. We made the right decisions at the right moments and my Audi RS 5 DTM was terrific again today.”
In the turbulent race, in which only ten cars crossed the finish line, Rast had to fight hard for his sixth victory of the season, especially during the opening laps. After two Indy restarts, Rast managed to fend off all of the attacks from his fiercest rival for the title, Nico Müller from Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline. Rast also successfully countered an undercut by Müller, who came into the pits one lap before him. After his pit stop, Rast not only remained in front of the Swiss, but he also returned to the track ahead of Ferdinand Habsburg, who had led the race up to that point.
With second place, Nico Müller kept his chances of winning the title alive. From fifth place on the grid, the Swiss immediately moved up to third. However, unlike Rast, he was unable to drive in open air after his pit stop. “It was particularly frustrating that Jamie (Green) put up such a massive fight on cold tires, which was unnecessary,” said Müller. “For the finale at Hockenheim, it’s now ‘all-in!’ It is a track from which I have very good memories. I clinched my first pole position in the DTM there and won the final race last year. I don’t see why we shouldn’t be able to make René’s life difficult there.”
With a gap of 41 points, Müller’s teammate Robin Frijns now only has an outside chance for the title. The Dutchman was taken out of the race through no fault of his own in a collision between BMW driver Jonathan Aberdein and Fabio Scherer. “I had overtaken Fabio shortly before the accident and didn’t even realize what was happening behind me,” said Frijns. “All of a sudden, I felt a hard hit and the race was over. It is very disappointing.”
Jamie Green finished fifth, Mike Rockenfeller from Audi Sport Team Phoenix finished sixth. His teammate Benoît Tréluyer retired after a collision at the first restart.
WRT Team Audi Sport experienced a rollercoaster of emotions. In the morning, Ferdinand Habsburg clinched the first pole position for a customer team in the modern era of the DTM. The Austrian sealed a new record: It was the 15th pole position for Audi this year. Never before has a manufacturer achieved more than 14 pole positions in a single DTM season.
With Fabio Scherer in fourth and Harrison Newey in twelfth position on the grid, WRT achieved its best qualifying result in the DTM so far. All the more disappointing was the race result with ninth and tenth for Newey and Habsburg. After his initial lead, the Austrian’s pace became slower and slower due to a tire problem and he had to come into the pits for a second tire change.
“I have mixed feelings today,” said Head of Audi Motorsport Dieter Gass. “Of course, we are happy about the 1-2 victory with René and Nico, another fantastic result for Audi. But, I feel very sorry for Ferdinand Habsburg and Robin Frijns. Habsburg displayed a fantastic performance in qualifying, for which he was unfortunately not rewarded in the race. Robin could also have clinched a good result if he hadn’t been taken out of the race through no fault of his own.”