René Rast triumphs in sensational Hockenheim DTM thriller
After a double dose of bad luck in Saturday’s opening race and Sunday morning’s qualifying session, René Rast (GER, Audi) rolled the strategical dice and scored spectacularly to take his first DTM race victory of the 2019 season.
In Sunday’s race at Hockenheim, the German amply demonstrated why he has been feted as one of this year’s title favourites, blending guile and nerve to move through the field from 16thon the grid. He benefited from a mid-race Safety Car intervention to make an early pit-stop for fresh rubber, only just caught the field for the restart, and then pushed hard before making a second stop that helped him consolidate his advantage over the field.
Sometimes up to 1.5 seconds quicker than his rivals throughout the race, he also used his DRS (Drag Reduction System) to overtake one opponent after another. Nico Müller (SUI, Audi) and Robin Frijns (NED, Audi) also made it onto the podium after a thrilling dice with pole-sitter Philipp Eng (AUT, BMW).
Sunshine after the rain: Philipp Eng – bad luck, pole position and then almost a podium
For Eng, Sunday was a worthy reward after a difficult and disappointing Saturday. The Austrian had been stranded on the track during Saturday’s qualifying session with an engine sensor issue. But, as the sunshine returned, so did his good fortune. In the morning’s qualifying session, Eng claimed a dominant pole position, made an incendiary start and led during the first stint. After the mandatory pit-stop, however, he ceded positions to Audi drivers Rast, Müller and Frijns, but came home fourth, the best-placed BMW driver of the day.
Aston Martin also maintained much of the promising momentum it had gathered during Saturday’s qualifying and race sessions. Paul Di Resta (GBR) dived into the pits just before the Safety Car was deployed and benefited from an ideal track position as a result. From lap 24 onwards, the Scot racked up the very first miles in the lead for DTM’s newest manufacturer in the DTM. Di Resta also opted for a two-stop strategy and finished in a quietly impressive seventh place as a result.
Quotes – 2nd race, Hockenheim
Gerhard Berger, chairman ITR
“Tension is always high for the first event of any season – because you don’t know what the effect of the numerous technical changes will be; what the reliability of the cars will be like; whether cars will hit trouble, or if one manufacturer has done a better job than all the others. Therefore, I’m all the more happy that we have seen an altogether great weekend: the new cars are faster and more spectacular, and we had two thrilling races. Newcomers Aston Martin have made a really good first impression and Audi and BMW have scored one race win each. For me, the most important thing was the positive feedback from the fans, who are always the most important people to listen to. The TV ratings on Saturday were very promising, and the on-site spectator attendance was good as well. We can definitely build on this.”
René Rast, winner
“What a race, unbelievable! One of the best of my career. I never expected today’s victory. During the Safety Car intervention, we made an extra pit-stop after which we were clearly superior with fresh tyres. Of course, it was great fun making it all the way through the field within two laps. That is what the fans want to see. And today, the racing gods were on our side and let us win.”
Nico Müller, 2. place
“Initially, I tried to stay calm and let things play out. I honestly didn’t know what to expect from this race. Once I noticed that I was at the front in terms of speed, I tried to manage the tyres. For me, the restart after the Safety Car went well. And, on top of that, my team did an outstanding job during my pit-stop. That allowed us to make up another position.”
Robin Frijns, 3. place“My start was anything but good and I dropped back to eighth place. Then, however, my race pace was good and I was able to make up positions and overtake as other drivers had more problems managing their tyres. I really enjoyed the battles today. Third place is a good result and I am very happy.”
Result – 2nd race, Hockenheim
01 René Rast (GER), Audi, 37 laps in 58m 53.819s
02 Nico Müller (SUI), Audi, + 11.922s
03 Robin Frijns (NED), Audi, + 12.184s
04 Philipp Eng (AUT), BMW), + 17.952s
05 Bruno Spengler (CAN), BMW, + 22.769s
06 Timo Glock (GER), BMW, + 37.615s
07 Paul Di Resta (GBR), Aston Martin, + 37.920s
08 Marco Wittmann (GER), BMW, + 44.294s
09 Jamie Green (GBR), Audi, + 47.031s
10 Joel Eriksson (SWA), BMW, + 49.079s
Fastest lap: Pietro Fittipaldi (BRA), Audi RS 5 DTM, 1m 30.401s
Pole position: Philipp Eng (AUT), BMW M4 DTM, 1m 28.972s
Weather condition: 10–13°C, cloudy
Track conditions: 14–15°C, dry
Strategies at a glance – 2nd race, Hockenheim
#33 – René Rast (GER)
First stint: 22 percent » pit stop: lap 8 » second stint: 38 percent » pit stop: lap 22 » third stint: 40 percent
#51 – Nico Müller (SUI)
First stint: 51 percent » pit stop: lap 19 » second stint: 49 percent
#4 – Robin Frijns (NED)
First stint: 62 percent » pit stop: lap 23 » second stint: 38 percent
Wow-Fact – 2nd race, Hockenheim
In DTM qualifying for the second race during the 2019 season opener at Hockenheim, Marco Wittmann (GER, BMW) was the first driver ever to post a sub-1m30s lap time at the German Grand Prix track with a tin-top race car. He set a time of 1m29.734s. The eventual pole-winning time of 1m28.972s set by Philipp Eng (AUT, BMW) meant a new record in this respect. In qualifying, 10 from May 17-19 drivers managed to post sub-1m30s lap times. With an output of 610hp, new two-litre turbo engines and a power-to-weight ratio of 1.6kg/hp, this year’s DTM is the fastest ever.
And then, there was …
…DJ Antoine. The Swiss house DJ raised the roof in the Fan Village during Saturday evening’s show at the DTM season opener. DJ Antoine had his international breakthrough in 2011 with the single “Welcome to St. Tropez”. After each race on Saturday, every DTM round now includes an expanded early-evening music programme featuring international stars and DJs throughout the season.
From May 17-19, DTM rolls into Zolder, Belgium – venue of the first-ever DTM race back in 1984 – for rounds three and four of the 2019 season.