The full monty and plenty of excitement
The penultimate race meeting of the season will be held from 21st to 23rd September at the foot of the mountains. Or, more precisely, at Austria’s Red Bull Ring. The circuit located in picturesque Styria at 677 metres above sea level is regarded by nearly every driver on the grid as one of their favourite circuits. The 4.326-kilometre racetrack situated some 50 kilometres from Graz is technically challenging, features a difference in altitude of 65 metres and uphill sections with a maximum incline of 12 percent. At this true rollercoaster, DTM will enter its home straight with the 17th and 18th rounds of the 20-race season.
René Rast wants to fly high, at Spielberg. Last year, Rast won the Sunday race of the Austrian DTM weekend. And two weeks ago at the Nürburgring, the reigning champion started into both races from pole and took the chequered flag in both races as the winner. A perfect weekend that was never achieved since DTM has been racing according to the new format with two qualifying sessions, points for the top three positions in the qualifying sessions and two races on one weekend. On the last four race weekends, the German who resides in Austria scored a total of 126 points, more than anybody else in this period of time. With four more races to go, Rast has got 149 points on his tally and holds third position in the championship, thus being the toughest rival of the Mercedes-AMG drivers Gary Paffett (206 points) and Paul Di Resta (204). “That’s a development you couldn’t expect after the first races,” says Rast. “We’ve achieved more than we could hope for following our difficult start into the season. From now on we only can win. The gap to Gary and Paul still is very big but I will keep on fighting as long as there is a chance – no matter how tiny it may be.”
In 2017, Audi secured both poles and all the podiums, at Spielberg
Last year, all the six Spielberg podiums were clinched by drivers representing the Audi camp. And with Jamie Green, one Audi driver secured both pole positions. Furthermore, Audi (six wins) is the most successful brand at Spielberg since DTM made its comeback at the modified Red Bull Ring in 2011. To date, BMW won four races in Austria and Mercedes-AMG not a single one. The last Mercedes driver who prevailed in Austria was Marcel Fässler in 2003, with fellow Mercedes drivers Bernd Schneider and Christijan Albers completing the podium.
Meanwhile, Paffett and Di Resta are in fare better positions in the fight for the title, with Paffett being the only driver who theoretically could win the title early, this weekend – should he score 55 of the 56 points available with Di Resta leaving Spielberg completely empty-handed. An extremely unlikely concept that should be difficult to realise – and even more so as the two championship leaders weren’t particularly successful in Austria, recently. Paffett admittedly finished fourth, last year at the Red Bull Ring but in the previous races in Austria he finished 17th, 13th and 18th. While Di Resta came 9th, 11th 15th and 7th, in his last races in Austria to date.
“I travelled to the Nürburgring as second in the championship and left the Eifel as championship leader. On the way to regaining the lead I delivered in both qualifying sessions in fine style and secured two second positions on the grid. I finished third on Saturday and should have secured second place on Sunday. So, our performance was really good altogether. We have got the pace again, keep on scoring points and are back in the lead,” says Paffett and Di Resta adds: “I could compensate for my disappointment on Saturday with a good result on Sunday. Prior to the Spielberg meeting, the fight for the championship is absolutely open and we now have to roll up our sleeves. We will give our very best and want to battle it out for the podium.”
Saturday: 300th DTM race in the BMW history
BMW will celebrate a very special anniversary on Saturday. The race will be their 300th since the foundation of DTM back in 1984. Furthermore, Spielberg will be the home meeting for Mercedes-AMG-Pilot Lucas Auer and Philipp Eng. “I’m extremely looking forward to the weekend,” says the BMW driver who currently holds ninth position in the championship with 92 points, thus being the best rookie of the year. “I love racing at the Red Bull Ring and travelling to Styria. The facility is absolutely gorgeous and I think it’s unique in Europe.”
Sébastien Ogier travels to Spielberg as rookie with five World Championship titles under his belt. The rally driver will make a DTM guest appearance at the Red Bull Ring at the wheel of a Mercedes-AMG C 63 DTM. “A really exciting experience,” says Ogier. “DTM will be something completely new to me but I will try to learn as much as possible on every single lap.”
Josh. with his hit ‘Cordula Grün’ in the support programme
The DTM support programme at Spielberg will feature a special campaign unprecedented in series like DTM. On the weekend, visitors with a paddock ticket will have access to the XXL starting grid that therefore will be extended from 15 to 40 minutes.
At the same time, Austrian Josh. will entertain the crowds on Saturday with a 30-minute concert on the show stage. The musician from Vienna gained popularity first of all with his hit single ‘Cordula Grün’. Furthermore, the support programme also comprises a mobile tattoo studio by tattooist star Mario Barth. Visitors can get tattoos or just watch them being done.
At the circuit it will get even louder than usual as the programme also features the race series BOSS GP. The acronym stands for ‘Big Open Single Seater’ and includes single-seater of different categories, inter alia Benetton and Toro Rosso Formula One vehicles. Meanwhile, Mick Schumacher wants to continue his streak of success in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship at the Alps circuit. Following his three wins at the Nürburgring, the son of seven-time F1 World Champion is keen on taking the championship lead. And Ferdinand Habsburg, the great-grandson of Emperor Charles I of Austria, will contest his home races.
The two DTM races at Spielberg will be covered live in Germany by the show ‘ran racing’, brought by German TV station SAT.1 both on Saturday (22nd September) and Sunday (23rd September) from 13:00hrs CEST (12:00hrs BST). In Austria, ORF will begin its coverage on both days at 13:15hrs CEST and in Switzerland, MySports will cover the DTM action on Saturday and Sunday from 13:30hrs CEST. DTM.com and the official DTM App will stream live all the practice sessions, qualifying sessions and races free of charge.