The Müller report: Nico takes second DTM career win at Misano
Switzerland’s Nico Müller scored a dominant win in Sunday’s DTM race at Misano, vaulting himself into title contention with a masterclass performance in Italy.
The Audi driver made a fantastic start from fourth on the grid, and then managed his race superbly, steadily eking out a gap at the front from which he was never threatened.
Audi’s Nico Muller drove faultlessly at Misano on Sunday, showcasing his claim on the 2019 title with his first DTM victory since 2016
“We worked extremely hard for this victory,” said Müller afterwards. “These cars are fantastic to drive but they require so much work by the mechanics. The guys deserved this victory – it’s a really great feeling.”
Behind him, however, it was a different story as a number of incidents, crashes, punctures and spins dominated proceedings.
Another gritty drive from Eng
BMW’s Philipp Eng drove another strong, forceful race to claim second ahead of points leader Rene Rast, whose race was cut in half by a puncture.
The race began dramatically: pole-sitter Rast struggled off the line and was passed by front-row starter Robin Frijns and a fast-starting Müller. As the field barrelled into Turn Eight on the first lap, Rast went three abreast with South African Jonathan Aberdein and race-one winner Marco Wittman.
They quickly demonstrated that three into one doesn’t go, with Wittman forced wide into the gravel. He was an immediate retirement with broken steering.
On lap 14, disaster struck for Rast when he punctured his left-rear tyre and was forced to complete an entire lap with a slowly deflating tyre. It did little to deter the German, who kept his foot in all the way to the pit entry, losing minimal time as a result.
Philipp Eng drove with impressive assurance, neatly picking off Rene Rast to take his fifth podium finish of the 2019 season
He charged back into the fray, and initially looked set to make a race of it, but he admitted that he’d pushed his fresh rubber a little too hard, was unable to keep the charging Eng behind him, then settled for third place, slowly losing ground to the two cars ahead. Nonetheless, his first weekend double-finish ensured he left Italy with a 10-point lead in the title race.
“When you start ninth, you don’t expect to make it onto the podium,” said Eng. “But I just tried to make the tyres last the distance in the heat today. These points are really valuable.”
Rast added: “I didn’t make a great start, and there was some contact on the opening lap, and there was the puncture too, so things didn’t really go so well. We could have achieved more today, but third isn’t a bad result, so I’m not unhappy.”
Dovizioso again shows his speed
Guest driver Andrea Dovizioso enjoyed another action-packed race full of promise and excitement. The MotoGP superstar spent much of the afternoon deep in the fray, looking a genuine contender for points before slightly fading in the second half. A lap-30 spin put paid to his momentum, but he collected it together, got going again and finished 15th, behind the Aston Martins of Ferdinand von Habsburg, Jake Dennis and Daniel Juncadella.
“His speed was no surprise,” admitted ITR chairman Gerhard Berger. “MotoGP riders deal with an unbelievable power-to-weight ratio on a daily basis: they know what grip is, and they know how to deal with tyres. He was extremely impressive.”
Afterwards, ‘Dovi’ couldn’t wipe the smile from his face: “I’ve really enjoyed the weekend,” he said. “These cars are so nice to drive – they got so much power, speed and downforce, but keeping up with the drivers at this level is difficult. But it was a great experience.”
There’s probably a decent career in car racing awaiting Andrea Dovizioso if he should choose to pack in his MotoGP career