Overnight sensation: Wittmann takes pole for Assen Race One
Audi drivers may have set the pace in Friday’s free practice sessions at the TT Circuit Assen, but it was BMW’s Marco Wittmann who planted his M4 DTM on pole position for the first race of the weekend in the Netherlands.
With a best lap-time of 1m25.434s, Wittmann ended the session 0.158s faster than Audi’s René Rast, the championship leader lining up beside him in second.
For Wittmann, it was his third pole of the season and the 13th of his career.
“Overnight, we made some considerable changes to the car,” he said, explaining the step forward taken by BMW between Friday and Saturday. “We were already looking good, but my mechanics and engineers have given me an excellent car. It felt really good in qualifying, and my lap was spotless.
“Obviously, it’s a bit of a relief being to be up at the front after the setback in my home race at the Norisring. It feels nice to be back. I think our pace is good.”
Rast added: “I’m happy with P2 and more points in the championship. My main rivals are behind me, so that’s another positive. Now, we wait for the rain. Obviously, it’s a bit of a tricky situation, I’ve never driven here in the rain – so let’s see what happens.”
Audi drivers Loïc Duval and WRT’s Pietro Fittipaldi are alongside each other on the second row of the grid, Fittipaldi finishing up as fastest rookie.
With Timo Glock, Nico Müller, Sheldon van der Linde, Bruno Spengler, Philipp Eng and Joel Eriksson in fifth to 10th place, all six BMW drivers made it into the top 10. Müller is the only non-BMW driver among them. For local hero Robin Frijns, fastest on Friday, qualifying didn’t quite go according to plan: he ended up down in 12th place, 1.020s off Wittmann’s pole-setting time.
Halfway through the session, the red flags came out after Jake Dennis’s R-Motorsport Aston Martin ground to a halt on track and had to be towed away. The action resumed five minutes later, but under the regulations, Dennis was no longer allowed to participate as his car had required mechanical assistance.
R-Motorsport’s Dani Juncadella was the best-placed Aston Martin driver in 15th place.