There was huge relief and massive joy for Rene Rast and Audi in the 10th DTM race of the season at Zandvoort, as the reigning champion secured the first victory of the year, both for himself and for his manufacturer.
Having started from third place on the grid, the German crossed the finish line as the winner after 35 laps. “That was a huge relief after a long drought and a lot of bad luck,” Rast said. “Gary [Paffett] was massively fast and I didn’t really expect to win.”
And at the same venue, no less, where he made his DTM debut two years ago. Second place in the race on Sunday went to Mercedes-AMG driver Paffett ahead of his teammate Paul Di Resta. Philipp Eng took the checkered flag as the best-placed BMW driver in fourth position.
A guarantee for Rast’s success was his pit stop strategy. Contrary to the race on Saturday, he already headed into the pits for the wheel change at the end of the opening lap. This plan worked out. After Paffett’s stop on Lap 10, Rast took the lead, corrected for pit stops, and temporarily extended it to over two seconds. A safety car intervention on Lap 21 after a collision between Jamie Green and Bruno Spengler made the battle at the front of the field. At the restart, however, Rast kept Paffett at bay in a spirited manner and defended first place until the finish.
“The last 15 minutes were really difficult,” Rast admitted.
Second-placed Paffett also praised Rast’s hard-fought victory: “René absolutely deserved this win. For me, it was a perfect race and I am happy with second place. One can only dream of such a DTM weekend with two pole positions, one victory and a second place.”
Fourth-placed Eng was also happy with his Sunday, with the fastest BMW M4 DTM. “The race was much fun, flat-out from the first until the final lap. I was able to keep up with the front-runners, but mounting a challenge to Paul was impossible. We can build on this performance.” At the halfway point of the season, Di Resta, who finished third, is the only driver to have scored points in every race so far.
At the midpoint of the 20-race season, Paffett remains in the lead of the drivers’ standings with 148 points from Di Resta (121) and Timo Glock (101). Marco Wittmann (98) and Edoardo Mortara (97) are in fourth and fifth place.
After a four-week summer break, the DTM returns to the UK on August 11-12 at the Brands Hatch circuit in Kent.