Hockenheim DTM: Muller fends off Rast to set up showdown

Nico Muller pulled off a late move on Rene Rast to win the penultimate DTM race of the season at Hockenheim and keep the title race alive heading into Sunday's title decider.

Title contenders Muller and Rast were engaged in a race-long battle at the German venue, the two trading places several times as two safety car periods added an extra element to the championship fight.

Muller eventually held off Rast in a tense finish to win by 0.6 seconds, ensuring he remains only 13 points behind the German with 28 still available on Sunday.

At the start of the race, Muller made a stronger launch than polesitter Rast and made a lunge into Turn 1, the two title protagonists banging wheels as Rast was forced well off track.

Muller emerged in the lead, but the race was soon neutralised for a collision between BMW’s Marco Wittmann and WRT Audi’s Harrison Newey that sent both drivers into retirement.

Muller made a perfect restart to build a 0.6s buffer in one lap, only for Rast to close the gap and attempt a move around the outside of the hairpin on the following tour.

While that attempt proved unsuccessful, Rast got a much better run coming out of Turn 5 the next time around and he breezed past Muller to return to the front.

Muller launched a counterattack and tried to repass Rast twice at the hairpin, but the Team Rosberg driver managed to rebuff each of his attempts to maintain the status quo.

When the pitstops began, Muller was the first to head to the pitlane on lap 17, with Rast following in on the next lap.

The undercut worked for Muller, with Rast dropping not only behind him but also the Audis of Robin Frijns and Jamie Green.

However, with the advantage that Rast had, he swiftly cleared Muller’s teammate Frijns before passing his own teammate Green with relative ease on lap 22.

By that time Muller had stretched a four-second buffer out front, but Rast managed to wipe out his title rival’s advantage in short order, and was on his tail by lap 27.

On the following tour, Rast replicated the same move he had pulled off on Muller early in the race, passing the Abt Audi driver well before the hairpin to snatch the lead.

At this point it appeared that Rast had done enough to take victory, but a retirement for BMW’s Timo Glock brought out a late safety car, throwing a spanner in the works.

After Glock’s car was retrieved, the race resumed for a handful of laps, with Muller right on the tail of Rast and with Green not far behind in third.

Assisted with DRS and push-to-pass, Muller dived around the outside of Rast heading into the hairpin and, although he overshot the corner, he did enough to take the lead.

Rast put intense pressure on Muller in the closing stages of the race, but the Swiss driver did enough to hold on to take the victory, taking the title battle to Sunday’s finale.

Green finished just behind the title rivals in third, returning to the podium for the first time since the season opener at Spa. Loic Duval finished nearly five seconds behind in fourth, with his Phoenix teammate Mike Rockenfeller making it an all-Audi top five.

Jonathan Aberdein was classified as the top BMW driver in sixth, ahead of Audi’s Robin Frijns, who is now mathematically out of the title fight.

Robert Kubica was sandwiched by Wittmann and Kubica at the start, but avoided damage in his ART-run BMW to finish eighth and secure his third points finish of the season.

BMW duo Philipp Eng and Sheldon van der Linde rounded out the top 10, the latter slipping down the order after contending for the final podium position at one stage.

Race results:

Cla Driver Car Gap
1 Switzerland Nico Müller Audi RS5 Turbo DTM 2020  
2 Germany René Rast Audi RS5 Turbo DTM 2020 0.622
3 United Kingdom Jamie Green Audi RS5 Turbo DTM 2020 1.033
4 France Loic Duval Audi RS5 Turbo DTM 2020 4.960
5 Germany Mike Rockenfeller Audi RS5 Turbo DTM 2020 6.311
6 South Africa Jonathan Aberdein BMW M4 Turbo DTM 2020 6.580
7 Netherlands Robin Frijns Audi RS5 Turbo DTM 2020 6.727
8 Poland Robert Kubica BMW M4 Turbo DTM 2020 8.668
9 Austria Philipp Eng BMW M4 Turbo DTM 2020 9.025
10 South Africa Sheldon Van Der Linde BMW M4 Turbo DTM 2020 11.056
11 Austria Ferdinand Habsburg Audi RS5 Turbo DTM 2020 12.646
12 Austria Lucas Auer BMW M4 Turbo DTM 2020 15.244
13 Switzerland Fabio Scherer Audi RS5 Turbo DTM 2020 5 Laps
14 Germany Timo Glock BMW M4 Turbo DTM 2020 9 Laps
15 United Kingdom Harrison Newey Audi RS5 Turbo DTM 2020  
16 Germany Marco Wittmann BMW M4 Turbo DTM 2020  
shares
comments
Hockenheim DTM: Rast beats title rival Muller in qualifying
Previous article

Hockenheim DTM: Rast beats title rival Muller in qualifying

Next article

Hockenheim DTM: Rast on pole for decider, Muller only fourth

Hockenheim DTM: Rast on pole for decider, Muller only fourth
Load comments
How the DTM's shambolic finale poses awkward future questions Prime

How the DTM's shambolic finale poses awkward future questions

OPINION: The scenes at the Norisring as Mercedes used blatant team orders to secure the first DTM title of the new GT3 era totally undermined the credibility of the championship. But as well as overshadowing the season, it also presents uncomfortable questions to series bosses about the direction it is headed in.

DTM
Oct 12, 2021
How Audi's new DTM flagbearer is closing on his "childhood dream" Prime

How Audi's new DTM flagbearer is closing on his "childhood dream"

Having learned the ropes in GT3 alongside Rene Rast, Kelvin van der Linde is in line to take up the three-time champion's baton as Audi's new DTM king. From humble origins in South Africa, it's been a remarkable journey so far for the current series leader, but he knows that the 2021 title is a long way from settled just yet.

DTM
Sep 18, 2021
The number-crunching behind the new-look DTM's equalisation drive Prime

The number-crunching behind the new-look DTM's equalisation drive

Switching to GT3 regulations marked a fresh start for the DTM in 2021, but it has also drawn a line in the sand against other series using similar cars by engaging AVL Racing to develop a bespoke Balance of Performance system. Here’s how it works.

DTM
Jul 23, 2021
The initial verdict on DTM's move to GT3 cars Prime

The initial verdict on DTM's move to GT3 cars

OPINION: Facing collapse last year, the DTM has shifted its philosophy from a championship for silhouette-based touring cars to GT machines not too dissimilar to those racing across multiple series worldwide. But despite some initial BoP-based teething troubles, there were some pleasant findings as the 'new DTM' got underway at Monza

DTM
Jun 22, 2021
Why Albon has his work cut out in the new-look DTM Prime

Why Albon has his work cut out in the new-look DTM

The DTM moves into its bold new GT3 era with welcome support from Red Bull, which enters two AF Corse-run Ferraris. That includes one for ex-F1 driver Alex Albon, who’s determined to make a success of his GT switch

DTM
Jun 17, 2021
The slow-burner threatening to unseat Audi's DTM king Prime

The slow-burner threatening to unseat Audi's DTM king

It's taken him a while to emerge as a consistent title challenger, but in the final year of DTM's Class One ruleset, Nico Muller has smoothed the rough edges and has double champion stablemate Rene Rast working harder than ever to keep up in the title race.

DTM
Oct 14, 2020
Does 2000 hold the answers to the DTM's current crisis? Prime

Does 2000 hold the answers to the DTM's current crisis?

It's 20 years since the DTM roared back into life at a packed Hockenheim with a back-to-basics approach as the antidote to its high-tech past. Now it's on its knees again, so is it time to recall the lessons learned in 2000?

DTM
May 28, 2020
Ranking the 10 best Audi DTM drivers Prime

Ranking the 10 best Audi DTM drivers

Audi last week announced it would be exiting the DTM at the end of 2020, bringing the curtain down on 20 years of continuous participation since the series' reboot in 2000.

DTM
May 5, 2020