René Rast climbed from 16th on the grid to win race two at the Hockenheimring thanks to a two-stop strategy giving him newer tyres when those around him were struggling with degradation.
“One of my craziest races ever, I would say,” the 2017 DTM champion admitted, “the very aggressive strategy, stopping under safety car, getting new tyres.”
The Audi Sport Team Rosberg driver pitted under the early safety car period, a stop that would not count as his mandatory visit to the pit lane.
It was revealed that the strategy was decided pre-race, should the safety car be called out.
“We always had it in mind,” explained the 11-time DTM race winner, “outside the top ten you have to gamble and we knew a safety car was our chance to make up positions.”
At the restart Rast set about climbing up the order from 15th, and passed six cars on the first green flag lap.
Although he admits he was lucky to avoid incident.
“Two times I was missed by a few centimetres by cars spinning in front of me.
“[There was] a bit of chaos; I think on track I maybe passed five cars, the rest of the guys spun or got caught by spinning cars in front of me, I was a bit lucky by that.”
Once the race had settled down, however, Rast made his way to the top using the fresh Hankook tyres.
“With the new tyre it took three or four laps until basically I got through the field.”
Once at the front, the Audi Sport Team Rosberg driver pulled away reducing the risk of losing the lead when he made his mandatory, and second, pitstop.
Following a disappointing Saturday, Rast was keen to make amends and start the championship with a good position.
Rast was forced to retire on lap 28 of the opening race, having been in a convincing podium position. In the second qualifying session this morning, the Audi driver had limited running after another mechanical issue left him 16th for the race.
“We had a gearbox issue, which forced us to stop the race unfortunately, otherwise it would have been good points, a podium or a win as well.
“And today in the qualifying session [there was] an issue with the fuelling system.
“It didn’t start well today, but the ending, P3 in the championship, three Audi’s on the podium – it couldn’t be much better.”
Having been narrowly beaten to the title last year by Gary Paffett, by a margin of only four points, Rast knows the importance of scoring at each race. Leaving Hockenheim third in the championship puts the Audi driver in good stead to fight for the DTM crown.