Brands Hatch DTM: Wittmann fends off Rast to win

BMW driver Marco Wittmann held off last-lap pressure from DTM title rival Rene Rast to win the Brands Hatch opener, as Paul di Resta surprised the field by leading the early laps.

Polesitter Wittmann, as well as Rast, bogged down off the line as Di Resta made a start so swift that it put him under investigation as he powered his R-Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage into the lead down Paddock Hill Bend.

At the end of the first lap, Di Resta established a lead of almost one second over Wittmann and defensive driving allowed the underpowered Vantage to hold onto an unlikely lead through the first phase of the race.

Di Resta would concede the lead once he made his mandatory pitstop on the 16th lap of 42, serving a five-second penalty for his jumped start, but Wittmann had to work his way back into the net lead having stopped two laps earlier.

The crucial move came when Wittmann steered his BMW through a narrow gap caused by the early-stopping Jamie Green running wide at Paddock Hill Bend, opening up space for the two-time DTM champion to power past the Audi driver and then-net leader Rast.

Once the pitstops had shaken out, Wittmann had a lead of over five seconds to Rast. 

A slow lap from Wittmann late in the race allowed Rast to close to within three seconds and the Audi driver loomed large behind the BMW driver on the final lap. But Rast was unable to find a way past and crossed the line just 0.3s behind Wittmann.

Rast had put himself into position to hound Wittmann by picking off two Audi stablemates on the run to Hawthorns in quick succession following his mandatory pitstop. 

He first passed Loic Duval and then relegated title contender Nico Muller to the final place on the podium. Duval would fall to fifth at the flag after Audi’s Robin Frijns pulled off a similar move to Rast to take fourth late on.

Philipp Eng managed a series of aggressive moves to seal sixth on the grid, most notably running side-by-side with di Resta through Paddock Hill Bend and scything past at Druids before passing Mike Rockenfeller late on.

Rockenfeller finished seventh and the top 10 was rounded out by BMW’s Sheldon van der Linde, WRT Audi’s Jonathan Aberdein and the highest-placed R-Motorsport entry of Daniel Juncadella

Juncadella’s points finish was aided by an as-yet unexplained retirement for Di Resta late on, who joined his teammates Ferdinand Habsburg and Jake Dennis in the garage.

Habsburg retired not long after an off at the exit of Sheene, while Juncadella’s rapid start pushed BMW’s Timo Glock into the R-Motorsport driver’s teammate Dennis.

Dennis then collided with the pitwall and damaged the rear of his car, forcing him into retirement.

WRT’s Pietro Fittipaldi did not take part in the race after the heavy damage sustained to his Audi in his qualifying crash could not be repaired in time. BMW’s Joel Eriksson also failed to start the race.

BMW had replaced Wittmann’s engine ahead of the Brands Hatch race and introduced two spare power units, which means it cannot count the points from Wittmann, Eng or van der Linde towards its manufacturers’ total.

Race results:

111 Marco WittmannBMW M4 Turbo DTM42 
233 René RastAudi RS 5 Turbo DTM420.3
351 Nico MüllerAudi RS 5 Turbo DTM428.5
44 Robin FrijnsAudi RS 5 Turbo DTM4215.6
528 Loic DuvalAudi RS 5 Turbo DTM4218.2
625 Philipp EngBMW M4 Turbo DTM4218.8
799 Mike RockenfellerAudi RS 5 Turbo DTM4220.0
831 Sheldon Van Der LindeBMW M4 Turbo DTM4229.9
927 Jonathan AberdeinAudi RS 5 Turbo DTM4237.0
1023 Daniel JuncadellaAston Martin Vantage DTM4237.3
1153 Jamie GreenAudi RS 5 Turbo DTM4248.9
127 Bruno SpenglerBMW M4 Turbo DTM4252.4
1316 Timo GlockBMW M4 Turbo DTM421.05.2
 3 Paul di RestaAston Martin Vantage DTM393 laps
 62 Ferdinand HabsburgAston Martin Vantage DTM384 laps
 76 Jake DennisAston Martin Vantage DTM 42 laps


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