Rene Rast scored his third consecutive DTM victory to close in on new points leader Paul di Resta at the Red Bull Ring this afternoon.
His Audi stablemates Mike Rockenfeller and Nico Müller played the team game on the final lap to allow Rast to take full points in the race.
Starting 9th, Rast avoided a spun Robin Frijns to move to 8th staying there for the first third of the race when pit stops began in earnest. With the track relatively slow to dry, Rast stayed out until lap 17, emerging behind former champion Marco Wittmann (BMW), all the while maintaining a solid pace.
He rose to 4th as the varied strategies played out, surrounded this time by a pack that included Wittmann, Müller and Mercedes trio di Rest, Lucas Ayer and Edo Mortara.
Rast fell to 6th just before the second safety car period, when an aggressive Wittmann pushed him out wide on the back end of the circuit.
Following a brief stoppage to clear Timothy Glock’s broken BMW, Rast jumped past Wittmann and di Resta on the restart and was then gifted two further positions when Rockenfeller and Müller stepped aside in the final corners.
Initially Mercedes racer Dani Juncadella looked to have taken the main prize, only for a late race penalty to drop him to the rear of the field. The Spaniard was adjudged to have impeded Rockenfeller during a late safety car restart, giving himself an easier run into the first corner. The penalty demoted Juncadella to 14th in the final standing and promoted Rast, Rockenfeller and Müller, securing an all-Audi podium.
Di Resta took 4th and the series lead after Juncadella’s penalty, while a late off by Wittmann also gifted the Scot additional scores. Along with Wittmann, the Mercedes racer had also chased Augusta Farfus and Müller, before disposing of the former; however di Resta fell just three-tenths shy of the podium come race end.
Jamie Green made it four Audi’s in the top five, thanks to a stunning final restart during which he climbed from 10th to 6th, later becoming 5th with Juncadella’s penalty. Green has a fairly anonymous first half of the race, when he mostly ran 14th, but the Briton cleared Pascal Wehrlein (Mercedes) and Philipp Eng (BMW) during the stops and then 12th as the late pitters peeled off for new Hankook tyres.
Lucas Auer (Mercedes) followed Green home to take 6th, but he enjoyed a comfortable gap to Wittmann who lost five seconds to the leading pack in the final few tours. Eng (8th) crossed the line almost door-to-door with Wittmann and Mortara.
Like Juncadella, Mortara received a 30s post race penalty that dropped him to 16th, promoting Farfus to 9th and former points leader Paffett to 10th
It was a surprising score for Paffett who took damage to the front and rear following a first lap incident with Robin Frijns, Eng and Duval that caused the latter to retire with heavy damage.
Frijns also stopped but rejoined toward the rear and eventually climbed to 11th. Guest driver Sebastien Ogier scored a respectable 12th place on his DTM debut, ahead of Wehrlein, the penalised Juncadella, Joel Eriksson (who suffered an early off).
Timo Glock retired with six laps to go and the placement of his stricken BMW initiated the second safety car. After an anonymous weekend, Bruno Spengler retired seven laps from the end.