Rene’s road to the title | DTM
2019-09-19 09:30:00

Rene’s road to the title

Rene’s road to the title

Coming off the back of six successive victories at the tail-end of 2018, and following Mercedes’ withdrawal and the departure of reigning champion Gary Paffett, Rene Rast entered 2019 as firm championship favourite.

That didn’t make the task any easier, of course. If anything, it added a level of scrutiny and criticism to each and every lap; and it painted a huge target on his back – one duly noted by the entire paddock.

Still, Rast’s ascendance to the title was impressive: he was always on the pace; always bounced back immediately from mechanical retirements; and was always fair on track.

 


 

This is how he did it:

Hockenheim (GER) May 3-5

If Audi concluded the winter tests with the nominally fastest car, the Ingolstadt marque failed to show it at the opening race. Damp and cold for much of the weekend, this was a meeting where solid preparation and sheer speed of response counted for more than outright pace. Rast had a weekend of contrasting fortunes, retiring from race one while chasing the leader, and sensationally winning on Sunday after making an inspired stop behind the Safety Car. It provided him with the fresh rubber he needed to eke out an advantage before making a late-race mandatory stop and sprinting to the finish.

Championship position          3rd, 25pts (-9 to leader)

 

 

Race 1               Grid     4th         Race    DNF

Race 2               Grid     16th      Race    1st


Zolder (BEL) May 17-1

Returning to the venue of the first-ever DTM race (back in 1984), Rast repeated his Hockenheim performance, earning one DNF and one victory. His Sunday win gave him the first proper opportunity of the year to demonstrate the full potential of his RS5 to his rivals. Starting from second, he quickly vaulted pole-sitter Sheldon van der Linde, and finished 10 seconds’ clear of the field.

Championship position          2nd, 54pts (-5 to leader)

 

 

 

 

Race 1               Grid     2nd        Race    DNF

Race 2               Grid     2nd        Race    1st


Misano (ITA) June 7-9

BMW’s Marco Wittmann played his ‘Safety Car joker’ (the risky practice of strategically boxing early and reaping the potential reward of a Safety Car to jump from the back to the front of the field) to out-perform Rene in the opening race. On Sunday, Rast banged wheels with Wittmann, putting the BMW out of the race, separately suffered a puncture and finished third. Those two pole positions underlined the feeling among rivals that the Audi RS5 DTM was now the clear package to beat…

Championship position          1st, 93pts (+10 over nearest rival)

 

 

 

 

Race 1               Grid     1st         Race    2nd

Race 2               Grid     1st         Race    3rd


Norisring (GER) July 5-7

The famous street race is invariably chaotic, and – once again – Rast enjoyed contrasting fortunes. On Saturday, he played his own ‘Safety Car joker’ to make amends for a start-line stall to sweep through from last to first. On Sunday, he was pitched into a first-lap spin by Nico Mueller, but recovered to finish seventh. It could have been far worse…

Championship position          1st, 128pts (+25 over nearest rival)

 

 

 

 

Race 1               Grid     3rd         Race    1st

Race 2               Grid     1st         Race    7th


Assen (NED) July 19-21

The Dutch track – a MotoGP staple – was a new addition to this year’s calendar, proving immediately popular with both drivers and fans. The weekend’s opening race was held in heavy rain, and, despite starting from the front row, Rast played it somewhat cautiously, mindful of his championship position; he finished third. In Sunday’s dry race, he led comfortably until high tyre deg prompted a second pit-stop, and a thrilling fight back through the field to fifth.

Championship position          1st, 158pts (+22 over nearest rival)

 

 

 

 

Race 1             Grid     2nd       Race    3rd

Race 2             Grid     1st        Race    5th


Brands Hatch (GBR) Aug 10-11

BMW’s Marco Wittmann asserted himself on Saturday, claiming pole and victory, with Rast eagerly accepting points for second with an eye again on the bigger picture. On Sunday, the BMW challenge mysteriously slumped: so when Audi took the first eight grid slots – with Rast at its head – there was little reason to suspect he would fail to win. He duly delivered, with Nico Mueller obediently following him across the line.

Championship position          1st, 206pts (+37 over nearest rival)

 

 

 

 

Race 1               Grid     2nd        Race    2nd

Race 2               Grid     1st         Race    1st


Lausitzring (GER) Aug 23-25

If the BMW challenge faltered at Brands on Sunday, it duly crumbled as the series returned to Germany. On Saturday, however, Rast was in no position to capitalise, becoming an early retirement with an engine problem. It was a potentially critical tipping point, as Mueller took the win and narrowed the points gap down to just 14 points – the narrowest it had been since Misano. Rast bounced back mightily on Sunday, his victory once again tightening his grip on the championship.

Championship position          1st, 234pts (+20 over nearest rival)

 

 

 

 

Race 1               Grid     1st         Race    DNF

Race 2               Grid     4th         Race    1st


Nurburgring (GER) Sept 13-15

With Mueller effectively the last man standing in the title race, this would be a critical weekend for the Swiss driver, yet he couldn’t convert the opportunity. A jump-start, and resulting penalty, on Saturday and a lowly grid position on Sunday meant that the door was left open for Rast to clean up. The German jumped in, claiming pole and a straightforward win on Saturday, and a clean and conservative third on Sunday. It was enough to lift him clear of Mueller and earn him the title.

Championship position          1st, 279pts (+56 over nearest rival)

 

 

 

 

Race 1               Grid     1st         Race    1st

Race 2               Grid     2nd        Race    3rd


 

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