BMW’s Marco Wittmann converted his pole position into victory in the opening DTM race of the season at the Hockenheimring, dominating a race held in wet conditions to beat Audi’s Mike Rockenfeller.
Witmman led away at the start, which was slightly delayed after the field completed extra formation laps in the wet conditions.
The two-time champion initially led from Rockenfeller, but it was a charging René Rast who was the man to watch in the first laps, with the Audi driver recovering after early contact with BMW’s Timo Glock at the first corner saw the latter complete a full 360 degree spin.
Rast was up to second by lap 13, passing stable-mate Rockenfeller with ease at the hairpin, before setting about catch Wittmann, who st that stage had a 1.5 second lead.
Although Rast was able to get slightly closer to Wittmann, the BMW driver maintained enough of an advantage to see off any immediate threat, and on lap 29 Rast pulled off the circuit with mechanical issues, ending his race.
That effectively gave Wittmann a clear run to victory, with the 29-year-old more than 38 seconds ahead at the front of the race, which saw the track gradually dry out towards the end.
Rockenfeller took second, whilst Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline’s Robin Frijns completed the podium, the Dutchman taking his second podium in as many meetings, after also ending 2018 with a top three.
Despite his spin, BMW Team RMG’s Timo Glock took fourth, ahead of Audi’s Loïc Duval in fifth, the Frenchman having made strong progress in the early stages of the race from 12th on the grid.
BMW rookie Sheldon van der Linde was an impressive sixth the South African’s first DTM race, with the Team RBM driver passing the Aston Martin of Paul di Resta for the position on lap 14 before holding station for the rest of the race.
Bruno Spengler brought his Team MG BMW M4 home in seventh, ahead of the Abt Audi of Nico Müller in eighth.
R-Motorsport’s Daniel Juncadella was the best of the Aston Martin drivers in ninth, having made his mandatory pit stop on the opening lap of the race, whilst WRT’s Pietro Fittipaldi completed the top ten in his Audi, securing a point on his DTM début.
Brits Jake Dennis and Jamie Green just missed out on the points and were 11th and 12th respectively, the former bringing his Aston Martin home as the last driver on the lead lap.
The Aston of Ferdinand von Habsburg retired on the first lap, with the Austrian reporting that he had an issue with the power train on his Vantage DTM, although he could not be completely certain of the issue.
WRT’s Jonathan Aberdein had been running inside the top ten on his début but the South African Audi driver dropped down the order in the latter stages, eventually finishing in 15th as the last classified driver after a number of offs.
Qualifying for race two gets underway at 10:45 CEST (09:45 BST) on Sunday.
|1||11||Marco WITTMANN||BMW Team RMG||BMW M4 DTM||34||1:03:30.158||1:43.574||1|
|2||99||Mike ROCKENFELLER||Audi Sport Team Phoenix||Audi RS5 DTM||34||13.727||1:44.266||2|
|3||4||Robin FRIJNS||Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline||Audi RS5 DTM||34||34.681||1:44.063||5|
|4||16||Timo GLOCK||BMW Team RMG||BMW M4 DTM||34||37.407||1:42.469||8|
|5||28||Loïc DUVAL||Audi Sport Team Phoenix||Audi RS5 DTM||34||1:03.383||1:42.663||12|
|6||31||Sheldon VAN DER LINDE||BMW Team RBM||BMW M4 DTM||34||1:05.453||1:42.554||7|
|7||7||Bruno SPENGLER||BMW Team RMG||BMW M4 DTM||34||1:13.886||1:44.560||14|
|8||51||Nico MÜLLER||Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline||Audi RS5 DTM||34||1:29.780||1:43.777||10|
|9||23||Daniel JUNCADELLA||R-Motorsport||Aston Martin Vantage DTM||34||1:30.322||1:44.438||11|
|10||21||Pietro FITTIPALDI||Audi Sport Team WRT||Audi RS5 DTM||34||1:31.873||1:42.821||15|
|11||76||Jake DENNIS||R-Motorsport||Aston Martin Vantage DTM||34||1:36.899||1:42.797||6|
|12||53||Jamie GREEN||Audi Sport Team Rosberg||Audi RS5 DTM||33||+ 1 LAP||1:44.756||13|
|13||47||Joel ERIKSSON||BMW Team RBM||BMW M4 DTM||33||+ 1 LAP||1:49.458||9|
|14||25||Philipp ENG||BMW Team RBM||BMW M4 DTM||33||+ 1 LAP||1:44.008||17|
|15||27||Jonathan ABERDEIN||Audi Sport Team WRT||Audi RS5 DTM||33||+ 1 LAP||1:45.058||18|
|R||33||René RAST||Audi Sport Team Rosberg||Audi RS5 DTM||28||DNF||1:47.237||4|
|R||3||Paul DI RESTA||R-Motorsport||Aston Martin Vantage DTM||17||DNF||1:55.565||3|
|R||62||Ferdinand VON HABSBURG||R-Motorsport||Aston Martin Vantage DTM||2||DNF||2:21.899||16|