“Meanwhile, at the Weekend: “Spengler begins DTM title defence; Rosenqvist makes it 3 from 3 at Red Bull Ring”

DTM (Rd 3, Red Bull Ring)
Schnitzer BMW racer Bruno Spengler’s DTM title defence kicked into gear on Sunday thanks to a dominant display at the Red Bull Ring, finishing ahead MTEK BMW paring Marco Wittmann and Timo Glock.
Starting on Hankook soft tyres, Spengler held a small, but safe lead over Wittmann and Edoardo Mortara in the opening stages, extending his lead gradually until finally making his first stop on lap 29. He regained the lead four tours later as the remaining few ahead pitted; a pattern that repeated itself following his final tyre change five laps from the end. Throughout the race, Spengler controlled the pace and with it the race, finishing 1.5 seconds clear of Wittmann.

Indeed Wittmann had to fight for it early on, having been passed by Mortara at the start; however the MTEK racer retook the spot two tours later whereupon Wittmann ran Spengler close for much of the duration, but rarely seemed to be in a position to trouble the champion. His stop on lap 23 initially put Wittmann behind teammate Glock, only for the positions to reverse during the final tyre changes.
For Glock, a lap 5 visit to the pits garnered the ex-F1 driver clean air to run through during the early portion of the race. Steady pace and healthy tyre conservation allowed Glock to run as high as 2nd (despite a brief, but time-consuming mid-race battle with Miguel Molina) before his final visit to the pits, where he rejoined just behind Wittmann. As traffic fell away, Glock slipped into 3rd to earn his first DTM podium.
Mike Rockenfeller also enjoyed a positive day, using strategy to climb from 13th to 4th by the end. The Phoenix Audi racer also took an early stop, but fell away from Glock as mid-race traffic split them. It was a similar tale for Mattias Ekstrom in the Abt Audi whose early stop set him up for a speedy first stint, allowing him to climb to 5th at the end. Augusto Farfus claimed 6th, just 0.6s ahead of Christian Vietoris, with the pairing guiding a log jam that contained Dirk Werner (8th), Gary Paffett (9th – who took a stop-go penalty for clipping Martin Tomczyk) and Pascal Wehrlein (10th).

European F3 Championship (Rd 5, Red Bull Ring)
Felix Rosenqvist played himself back into title contention at the weekend with three wins in a round where Raffaele Marciello stumbled. At the halfway point in the season, Rosenqvist narrowed the points gap at the top to just 27.5, taking 50 off of Marciello.
The Swede raced away from poleman Daniil Kvyat in race one, with Rosenqvist enjoying a 14.3 second lead come the flag. It was a smooth drive by the Mücke man, who seemed at ease with the Red Bull Ring’s sloping hills and crests. Kvyat, too, had a quiet run as he initially extended himself over Lucas Wolf; before Jordan King took the 3rd place spot for keeps on lap 17. Starting 13th Marciello enjoyed a good first lap breaching the top eight in short order. Contact between Lucas Auer and Sven Muller allowed Marciello to gain further places, while passes on the struggling Wolf and Latifi solidified a credible points finish. Latifi came home 5th, ahead of Muller (6th), while Alex Lynn, Eddie Cheever, Michael Lewis and Auer completed the top ten. Wolf would eventually fall to 16th.

Rosenqvist took his second win of the weekend in style on Saturday afternoon, following a truncated run to the flag. The Swede dropped behind Wolf and Kvyat off the line, only to take both around the outside of the Audi Ultra corner, as they fought amongst themselves. From there Rosenqvist drew away from Kvyat, eventually winning by 7.7s while the Russian extended a safe gap to the inexperienced Wolf.
Unlike race one, Wolf held his pace steady bringing his car home for his first European F3 podium, while Auer took 4th after he capitalised on a clumsy accident between Muller and Latifi. Josh Hill and King initially battled with the Auer / Latifi / Muller group before falling back slightly to the clutches of Harry Tincknell; however the trio would take the finish in that order. Tom Blomqvist, Cheever and Lewis were running 8th, 9th and 10th respectively when the race was red flagged on lap 20 following a crash between Pipo Derani and Lynn on the approach to Schlossgold – both drivers were fine; their cars were not.

Rosenqvist completed the rout on Sunday with another top drive – winning again in front of Kvyat. The Mücke racer started 3rd, but scythed passed front row pairing Kvyat and Marciello as the battled through Schlossgold, although a safety car on the second lap halted any chance of Rosenqvist pulling away.
Upon the restart on lap 9, the Swede enjoyed a slender but confident lead, edging 2.6s up on Kvyat when the clock ran down on lap 20. A poor first few laps after the safety car dropped Marciello down the order, with Auer, Latifi, King, Tincknell and Derani all slipping by within a tour. As Auer escaped, Latifi also went off losing several positions, allowing Tincknell, King and the recovering Marciello to fight it out for 4th, 5th and 6th respectively. Latifi eventually secured a distant 7th, just under a second ahead of Lynn (8th), while Derani fell backwards to 9th as the race aged. Roy Nissany completed the top ten. A long safety car period interrupted proceedings when a blindsided Mans Grenhagen hit the spun Jann Mardenborough, before the former was then rear-ended heavily by Dennis van der Laar. Blomqvist could do little to avoid the spun Mardenborough, sideswiping the Welshman, while Mitch Gilbert also retired with damage.

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