Rene Rast remarkable end-of-season run continued at the Hockenheimring today when he took his sixth consecutive victory, but it was not enough to wrestle the title from Gary Paffett.
BMW’s Marco Wittmann came home 2nd, with Paffett securing 3rd to ensure all three marques appeared on the podium – an ideal result for Mercedes, who depart the series following eighteen years in the category.
Paul di Resta – the final championship challenger – struggled in the pack after qualifying 11th.
Rast made a dream start from 2nd to jump poleman Wittmann, with Paffett keeping 3rd ahead BMW pairing Bruno Spengler and Augusto Farfus.
Behind the leading group, Edo Mortara lined up 6th, ahead of Joel Eriksson (7th), Nico Müller (8th), the quick starting Di Resta and Philip Eng (10th). Di Resta was unable to keep Eng at bay, however, and he fell behind Eng on lap three.
With the most to gamble, the Scot was the first stop for his mandatory pit maintenance lap seven, but upon returning to the track in clear air, his times proved no quicker than those battling at the front.
Meanwhile, Rast held a small but confident lead ahead of Wittmann and Paffett and the Audi man seemed content to extend the gap by small tenths in the opening stint, rather than unnecessarily pushing his Hankook’s over the edge.
Although 3rd place would be good enough for Paffett to win his 2nd DTM title, Mercedes elected to bring the Englishman in on lap twelve in an effort to undercut the leading pair. Rast came in two laps later, but if anything the gap to Paffett extended in the early stages out of the pits; however Paffett did enough to get ahead of Wittmann, once the BMW man came in on lap 18.
It would not last, however, as Witmann on fresher tyres and Paffett taking things relatively easily passed the Mercedes racer to regain 2nd place on lap 25. It mattered little though, the fifteen points for 3rd place was enough to give Paffett the crown by four points.
Out front, Rast – hardly seen on screen for the most part – built a 3.7s gap to claim his sixth consecutive win, but just fell short of retaining his DTM crown; however it was valiant effort by the Audi man.
Wittmann’s 2nd place in the race was enough for him to secure 4th in the championship and while the former-champion will be reasonably happy with that, he knows BMW can come back stronger.
Nico Müller took 4th at the flag and drew quite close to Paffett in the later laps, thanks to a stellar stint in the 1’35s – running between 0.5s and 1.5s per lap quicker than Paffett, but the gap was just too big to bridge.
Robin Frijns secured 5th to end his rookie year as a DTM racer. The Dutchman took the flag ahead of Spengler, who lost time in the pits), Farfus, Eng, Eriksson, while Timo Glock rounded out the top ten.
Mike Rockenfeller ended the day a muted 11th, just ahead of Audi Loïc Duval. Mortara and Spengler stopped on lap 13, with Mortara earning a drive through penalty for an unsafe release, as he was launched right into the path of Spengler, as the BMW ran down the pitlane exit, leaving Mortara 13th at the end.
Di Resta finished a disappointing 14th, having not featured at all through the final Sunday. Dani Juncadella came home 15th, heading the rearguard of Lucas Auer (16th), Jamie Green (17th) and Pascal Wehrlein (18th).
There were no retirements and relatively few incidents on track, beyond the occasional track limits notification.