René Rast is unstoppable: in Saturday’s race at the Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg, the Audi driver scored his fifth consecutive DTM race win. With this historic achievement, Rast not only secured himself a place in the history books, but also keeps the title race open. The issue of who will be the 2018 DTM champion will be decided in the final race. “I don’t have any words for it, it is just unbelievable,” the German was almost moved to tears on the cooling-down lap. With Robin Frijns in second place, Audi scored a 1-2 victory at Hockenheim. Third place in a race that was marked by countless wheel-to-wheel duels went to BMW driver Timo Glock. “That was an unbelievable race for the DTM,” Glock summed up. In the DTM drivers’ standings, Gary Paffett has taken the lead again prior to Sunday’s decisive race. The Mercedes-AMG driver finished fourth and is now leading with 239 points from his fellow Mercedes-AMG driver Paul Di Resta (223 points), who finished eighth. Rast also has all the possibilities to successfully defend his title prior to Sunday’s dream finale with 224 points.
“Now, everything is possible,” said René Rast, who came to Hockenheim 30 points down and managed to reduce the gap to 15 after the first of this weekend’s two races. “I have surprised myself. Winning once again today is something that I didn’t really believe. It was our goal to keep the decision open and when we have another thrilling race like this tomorrow, really, anything can be achieved. This night could become quite restless.”
Rast had to finish ahead of his rivals Paffett and Di Resta to keep his chances upright. On lap 16, Rast took the lead for the first time in the race from Paffett, but had to let the Brit get past again on lap 23, only to claim back the lead one lap later. During the restart after a safety car intervention – Augusto Farfus had lost the left-hand door of his BMW M4 DTM in the high-speed section before the hairpin – Rast was able to defend first place from Paffett and went on to bring it home.
Some were delighted, some less so. While Rast safely drove first place home, Paffett lost two positions to Frijns and Glock during the nine laps that remained after the restart. He finished fourth. “That is frustrating,” he said slightly agitated after the race. “We were in a safe second place and then the safety car comes out. That mixes up a race completely and wasn’t necessary from my point of view. Moreover, there was a lot of dirt on the track in the closing stages.” Nevertheless, Paffett will be starting Sunday’s finale as the leader in the championship.
For Di Resta, the penultimate race of the season was a disappointing affair. Having arrived as the points’ leader, he eventually had to make do with eighth place. He started the weekend 30 points ahead of third-placed Rast, but prior to the finale, his margin from the charging defending champion has been reduced to a mere nine points. “Unfortunately, that wasn’t my day today. Sixth place on the grid wasn’t ideal to start with, especially as Gary and René were starting in front of me. Moreover, Gary was able to halve my slight margin with his two points from qualifying. The race had a lot of action, duels and the safety car,” Di Resta said. In the closing stages, he lost positions to Loïc Duval, Mike Rockenfeller and Nico Müller within a few laps. The trio of Audi drivers finished in fifth, sixth and seventh place respectively.
The 20th and final DTM race of the season will decide on who will become the 2018 DTM champion. The race starts at 13.30 hrs. The action will be streamed live at DTM.com/live and in the DTM apps for iOS and Android.
Press release DTM, picture : Ludovic Carnal/Sport-Auto.ch