The DTM is always good for a surprise: under a clear blue sky, Audi driver Robin Frijns (NED) scored his second DTM career victory in the second race at the Nürburgring Grand Prix circuit. Defending champion René Rast (GER, Audi) finished second from former champion Mike Rockenfeller (GER, Audi), who scored a podium finish for the first time in the current season. With Abt Sportsline, Team Rosberg and Phoenix Racing, all three Audi works teams were represented on the podium for the first time this season.
Müller initially dominant, but then slowed down by technical problems
In the process, everything had looked set for another victory by fellow Audi driver and pole sitter Nico Müller (SUI), who had already scored a commanding win in the race on Saturday and had been dominating throughout the weekend. The start was a trouble-free affair for the Swiss as well: Müller had a good getaway from first place on the grid and was able to keep the opposition from Frijns and Rast at bay. The tables turned as Müller came in for his mandatory pit stop on lap eleven. Frijns came in only one lap later and went on to drive one fast lap after another at the now 5.148 kilometres long Grand Prix track, used for a DTM race event for the first time since 2001 and providing a lot of joy for the drivers. Müller, meanwhile, had to cope more and more with a technical issue on his Audi RS 5 DTM and first was overtaken by Frijns and then by three other fellow Audi drivers. The points’ leader only finished fifth.
Sheldon van der Linde best-placed BMW driver
Sheldon van der Linde (RSA) also showed a strong performance. The winner of the Sunday race at Assen one week ago crossed the finish line in sixth place and thus ended up as the best-placed BMW driver. His fellow BMW drivers Timo Glock (GER), Philipp Eng (GER) and Jonathan Aberdein (RSA) staged entertaining position fights in the midfield, but they were never in a position to close the gap to the group of the frontrunners that was dominated by Audi.
After the tenth of this season’s 18 races, Nico Müller retains his commanding lead in the drivers’ standings at 195 points. His rival Frijns (176) reduced the gap to Müller to 29 points as a result of his second DTM race win. René Rast (159 points) is third from Duval (85), Rockenfeller (79) and van der Linde (72). DTM action already continues next weekend (18-20 September), once again at the Nürburgring, but then at the 3.6 kilometres long sprint configuration.
Gerhard Berger, chairman, ITR e.V.: “At the Nürburgring, we have seen two races in which Audi clearly dominated. I am particularly pleased by the fact that we were now able to welcome spectators in the grandstands again in Germany as well. Altogether, this weekend’s races were slightly less exciting than the previous ones. However, for the championship, this result is good as Robin Frijns is catching up. The gaps between the first three are so small that something can change again any time. Nevertheless, one has to say that Nico Müller simply is the benchmark at the moment. In qualifying, he put in a top performance. The fact that BMW is half a second down reflects what we already have been seeing so far this season.”
Robin Frijns (NED), Audi RS 5 DTM, winner: “This victory does feel different from my maiden DTM race win a week ago. At Assen, I was fighting for victory until the finish. Today, I had a clear run once I was ahead of Nico Müller. Nevertheless, I saved my tyres, because I didn’t know what would still happen in the closing stages. In the opening part, I was able to keep up with Nico, we more or less had a similar pace. After the pit stop, I noticed quickly that Nico no longer had the usual top speed. Then, I had no problems getting past. Our Abt team is doing nothing differently, but this weekend, Nico and I obviously had an advantage. ”
René Rast (GER), Audi RS 5 DTM, 2nd place: “I think we got the maximum out of the race on Saturday and so we did today. Unfortunately, I made a slight mistake today and I slightly ran through the gravel trap, but that didn’t cost me the win. We have made a step ahead, but it is difficult to close the gap to Nico Müller and Robin Frijns. They both have a strong package and don’t make any mistakes. If we knew where the difference actually is, we would change immediately. When things aren’t going the way you want it to, you lose some confidence, you start having doubts, you change things, but that isn’t always the best thing to do. When everything is running smoothly, it surely is easier. After all, I know that from last year.”
Mike Rockenfeller (GER), Audi RS 5 DTM, 3rd place: “Of course, I am happy with my first podium finish of this season. However, I also know that in normal conditions, I would only have finished fourth or fifth. My guys and my engineers are always working really hard and therefore, this podium finish is a reward for them as well. We try to understand where the gap is coming from. That is what we are working on all the time. Today, Nico Müller was having an issue, he was not as fast on the straights anymore as he normally is. I used this chance to get a podium finish.”
Results – race 2, Nürburgring Grand Prix
Robin Frijns (NED), Audi RS 5 DTM, 31 laps in 58 minutes 16.157 seconds
René Rast (GER), Audi RS 5 DTM, + 4.281 seconds
Mike Rockenfeller (GER), Audi RS 5 DTM, + 10.258 seconds
Loïc Duval (FRA), Audi RS 5 DTM, + 12.573 seconds
Nico Mueller (SUI), Audi RS 5 DTM, + 13.096 seconds
Sheldon van der Linde (RSA), BMW M4 DTM, + 13.487 seconds
Jamie Green (GBR), Audi RS 5 DTM, + 16.741 seconds
Jonathan Aberdein (RSA), BMW M4 DTM, + 17.697 seconds
Marco Wittmann (GER), BMW M4 DTM, + 19.620 seconds
Philipp Eng (AUT), BMW M4 DTM, + 28.909 seconds
Fastest lap: Robin Frijns (NED), Audi RS 5 DTM, 1 minute 50.219 seconds
Pole position: Nico Müller (SUI), Audi RS 5 DTM, 1 minute 46.958 seconds
Weather conditions: 24°C, sunny
Track conditions: 41°C, dry surface