Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline’s Nico Müller scored a crucial victory at the Lausitzring, intensifying the DTM title fight after rival Audi Sport Team Rosberg’s René Rast was forced to retire with a technical issue.
Müller qualified third for the first race of the weekend and looked to be matching Rast who was leading the race in the opening laps. However, drama struck on lap 7 when Rast pulled aside and Müller inherited a lead he would not relinquish.
“It’s very important we took these 25 points,” explained Müller, “It’s what we needed even though I would’ve loved to fight for it on track.
“Once we were in the lead we didn’t put a foot wrong, we controlled it to the end.”
Despite a seemingly straightforward run to the checkered flag, Müller nearly lost the race lead during his mandatory pitstop when the mechanics struggled to change the front right tyre.
The delayed stop comes after the Swiss-driver missed out on the opportunity to challenge Rast for the race two victory at Brands Hatch due to a similar issue.
The eventual race winner admits that he was at risk of being passed by Abt Sportsline teammate Robin Frijns and championship rival BMW Team RMG’s Marco Wittmann.
“We lost a bit of time, but not as much as in Brands Hatch,” described the three-time DTM race winner, “If we had lost that place to Robin and Marco that would’ve been difficult to win the race.
“It wasn’t an optimal pitstop.”
Talk of the paddock now turns to the reduced championship lead Rast holds over Müller. Coming into the Lausitzring weekend it was nearly 40 points, now the gap is now 14 points.
Müller believes that this race result could give himself and the Abt Sportsline team the momentum to take the title fight to the wire.
“It’s definitely that bit of momentum we needed in this moment,” reports Müller, “It’s a very important step and now the game is fully open again.
“I’m very confident that little bit of momentum we gained today we will take it on and try and put him [Rast] under pressure, race-by-race, and hopefully close the gap more.”