Ingolstadt, July 9, 2019 – A dominant victory on Saturday, a double podium on Sunday, a new track record and the lead extended in all three DTM classifications: Audi managed to deliver its so far strongest performance in its home round at the Norisring.
In the past, the 2.3 kilometer city street circuit between the Dutzendteich Lake and the Max Morlock Stadium proved to be a difficult track for the brand with the four rings at most events. This has changed with the new Audi RS 5 DTM: The Class 1 race car with more than 610 horsepower broke all records in its first deployment at the Norisring. Audi was in front in both free practice sessions, clinched pole position on both days, four of six possible podium finishes and the largest number of points. In addition, the new turbo race car set new track records in qualifying (René Rast) and in the race (Nico Müller).
Saturday race: From zero to hero – Rast wins at Audi’s home round
In front of a full house, René Rast won Saturday’s DTM race at the Norisring with an advantage of nearly 35 seconds in spite of having dropped to the last position at the start. Nico Müller, the fastest driver in qualifying, snatched the runner-up’s spot on the last lap, so perfecting an Audi one-two result. Loïc Duval completed the strong showing of the new Audi RS 5 DTM in fourth position.
On the way to his third victory this season and the 13th in total in his DTM career, René Rast from Audi Sport Team Rosberg experienced an emotional roller coaster ride. At the start, the 2017 DTM Champion stopped. Rast had to restart the engine and dropped to the last position. When a safety car period became apparent, his team reacted in nothing flat and called Rast in to pit for a tire change after just three laps. Shortly afterwards, he had overtaken all competitors and went on to finish the race with an advantage of nearly 35 seconds.
“That was a crazy race,” said Rast. “Obviously, we were somewhat lucky with the safety car. But we were very fast today and would have been in contention at the front of the field anyhow. I just need to practice starting some more. I released the clutch too quickly and stalled the engine. We also have to do better in qualifying tomorrow.”
Rast had to settle for third on the grid after having gotten stuck in traffic on the second set of tires, whereas Nico Müller from Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline secured the three additional points for pole position. His time of 46.337 seconds is the fastest that has ever been driven on the current track configuration – clearly showing the performance capability of the new Class 1 race cars and the new Audi RS 5 DTM powered by a more than 610-hp two-liter four-cylinder turbo engine.
In the race, Müller managed setting a new lap record. The Swiss made a perfect start and easily pulled clear of his immediate rivals, but then became a victim of the safety car. Müller was among those drivers who had not pitted yet when the safety car was deployed. Following his tire change on lap 30, the Audi driver rejoined in seventh position, overtook one rival after another on fresh tires and, in a surprise attack in the last turn, even overtook Joel Eriksson’s second-placed BMW.
“That was especially important to me personally, because at Zolder I was caught behind him practically during the whole race and just didn’t get past him,” said Müller. “After the safety car, I no longer expected to finish on podium, because many cars had already pitted. I’m proud of my team that we achieved this anyhow. We did everything right today.”
For Audi, this was the sixth DTM victory in total at the Norisring. Most recently, in 2016, Nico Müller had won Audi’s home round at the Norisring. “Unfortunately, we’ve traditionally struggled quite a bit in front of our fans and employees,” said Head of Audi Motorsport Dieter Gass. “We were hoping that this would change with the new Audi RS 5 DTM. René was incredibly fast today. In spite of his early pit stop, in the end, he consistently drove fast times on the old tires. Nico’s race was perfect too from lights to flag. He was a little unfortunate with the safety car but fought back. Loïc’s comeback from the last row to fourth position was impressive as well. It’s a fantastic result for us and a great beginning for Hildegard Wortmann, who has been the new Member of the Management Board for Sales and Marketing since Monday and joined us in the pit lane to root for our squad.”
In Sunday’s race, all six factory-fielded Audi RS 5 DTM cars finished in the top eight and thus in the points. Just four weeks after his appendix surgery, four-time Norisring winner Jamie Green celebrated a successful comeback as the runner-up. “Unfortunately, I had to let Philipp Eng pass again after slight contact,” said the Briton from Audi Sport Team Rosberg. “As a result, I lost a lot of time and fell behind the subsequent winner, Bruno Spengler. Even so, it was a good race for me.”
Mike Rockenfeller from Audi Sport Team Phoenix fought back from eleventh on the grid to third place. For the 2013 DTM Champion, this marked the first DTM podium at the Norisring. “It’s cool to stand on the rostrum here,” “Rocky” said after the podium ceremony performed by Prince Albert of Monaco, the Bavarian Minister President Markus Söder and ski star Thomas Dreßen. “My car was really good. I was able to overtake many opponents and had a lot of fun in the race. After struggling here most of the time in the past, all of us at Audi can be very proud of this outcome. We were extremely strong this weekend.”
After retiring from Saturday’s race, Robin Frijns from Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline in fourth position just barely missed the podium. Loïc Duval, following a bold one-stop strategy on lap one, finished sixth. René Rast and Nico Müller had to settle for positions seven and eight on Sunday although both had started the race from the front row. The two Audi drivers had unfortunate contact with each other on the first lap. Due to the resulting spin, Rast dropped to the last position and Müller was handed a drive-through penalty.
“We gave away victory today, but it was a really strong team performance,” said Bram Schot. The Chairman of the Management Board of AUDI AG watched Sunday’s race together with his fellow board members Hans-Joachim Rothenpieler (Technical Development) and Peter Kössler (Production and Logistics) at the Audi garage in the pit lane.
“After clinching the top three spots on the grid in qualifying, it goes without saying that we also wanted to win today,” said Head of Audi Motorsport Dieter Gass. “Following a good start, we unfortunately didn’t get things right in turn one, which caused the lead to pass to Bruno Spengler. René and Nico fought back with strong lap times, so that we finished in positions two, three, four, six, seven and eight. We can be very happy with our altogether strong showing at the Norisring and are already looking forward to the DTM’s premiere at Assen in two weeks’ time.”
René Rast maintained his lead of the DTM drivers’ classification at the Norisring. Nico Müller improved to second place in the standings. In the manufacturers’ classification, Audi now has a 119-point advantage over BMW. In the teams’ classification, Audi Sport Team Rosberg and Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline continue to sit in the top two spots.