source: Audi Sport
- Outcome in the drivers’ championship to be decided in the last race on Sunday
- Nico Müller keeps his title chances alive by winning Saturday’s race
- Defending champion René Rast goes into the finale with a 13-point lead
With a hard-fought victory in the first of the two final races at the Hockenheimring, Nico Müller from Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline kept his chances of winning the DTM title alive. Defending champion René Rast from Audi Sport Team Rosberg finished second on Saturday and will start the all-decisive final race (Sunday from 1 PM CET live on SAT.1) with a 13-point advantage.
Rast and Müller fought a tough battle on Saturday. Rast secured pole position by 48 thousandths of a second. From second place, Müller managed to pull off a better start and an overtaking maneuver in the first corner, in which Rast was forced off the track. It was just a foretaste of the reminder of the race, in which the two Audi drivers repeatedly overtook each other and touched slightly several times. In the end, Müller crossed the finish line as the winner, finishing 0.622 seconds ahead of Rast.
“It was a great show that our drivers put on today, I’m really looking forward to the finale tomorrow,” said Markus Duesmann. The Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG is following the finale at Hockenheim just as Head of Technical Development Oliver Hoffmann and Julius Seebach, Managing Director of Audi Sport GmbH.
“The race was extremely exciting,” confirmed winner Nico Müller. “I really enjoyed it in the car, although there was a lot at stake. I hope that the fans at home in front of the screens enjoyed the spectacle just as much. I am very happy that I won the race. It was a day just like we needed. The team played a very decisive role. After the second safety car, we didn’t know exactly whether there would be four or five more laps to go. They told me that it was going to be extremely close and that I should pay close attention. Knowing that it was the last lap was very important today.”
René Rast could only confirm this: “I think we could have won, if I had known that it was the last lap. When I crossed the finish line, I looked at the display. It said: two more laps. I wanted to save the attack for the lead with Push-to-Pass and DRS for the last lap and was shocked that the race was over. I don’t know what went wrong, but it cost us the victory today.”
Rast’s teammate, Jamie Green, finished third. It was the British driver’s first podium since the start of the season at Spa. “That was a very good race,” said Green. “Whoever was in the lead couldn’t pull away. There were a lot of overtaking maneuvers in front of me and it was cool to watch. I was able to catch up with René and Nico before the second safety car, but I didn’t want to be a party crasher.”
Loïc Duval from Audi Sport Team Phoenix completed an Audi 1-2-3-4, although his Drag Reduction System (DRS) failed in the final stages. Teammate Mike Rockenfeller finished sixth. After the restart, “Rocky” had dropped back to last place.
Just like Mike Rockenfeller, Robin Frijns also took fresh tires during the second safety car period. Nevertheless, seventh place was not enough to keep his small title chance alive. “My qualifying was bad and in the race, I did not have the pace,” said Frijns. “With an early tire change, I almost got into the lead, but my tires were already at the end by that point.”
While all six Audi factory drivers finished within the top seven, customer team WRT Team Audi Sport remained without points this time out after their recent strong performance at Zolder. The best WRT driver in Saturday’s race was Ferdinand Habsburg in eleventh.
“That was an incredible race,” said Head of Audi Motorsport Dieter Gass. “The fight between Nico and René was tough and maybe a bit on the limit at one point or another, but from my point of view it was still okay. It was a perfect result for tomorrow’s finale. The championship is still open. René and Nico can both still win the title. I’m really looking forward to another battle like this tomorrow.”