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Nico Müller dominates opening race at Spa as tyre wear strikes rivals

Nico Müller won the opening DTM race of the season at Spa-Francorchamps, leading home an Audi 1-2-3-4-5 ahead of Jamie Green and Loïc Duval as tyre wear issues struck some of his main rivals.

Dutchman Robin Frijns had qualified on pole position and led the first handful of laps, until lap five when Müller was able to use DRS to his advantage and pass for the lead on the Kemmel straight.

Thereafter the Swiss driver was able to control the race, only needing to pit once to secure the first win of the season.

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Green came through to send, despite qualifying as the worst of the Audi drivers, after an impressive drive which saw him move into second on the penultimate lap when he got past Duval, with the duo having both picked off Mike Rockenfeller when the German struggled with his own tyres late in the race.

Rockenfeller managed to hang on to fourth, albeit losing a further ten seconds in the final laps, ahead of reigning champion René Rast in fifth.

Rast had, unlike most of the field, switched to a two-stop strategy part-way through the race, seeing the Audi driver drop from third to tenth on lap 20.

Whilst Rast was able to claw back some positions, he could only managed fifth and was just three seconds behind Rockenfeller at the finish.

Philipp Eng was the leading BMW driver in sixth, ahead of stable-mates Lucas Auer and Timo Glock in a race that the Munich marque again struggled to make much of an impact in.

Pole-sitter Robin Frijns and BMW’s Jonathan Aberdein completed the top ten, with Frijns dropping down the order in the closing stages.

BMW’s Sheldon van der Linde was the only driver to fail to take the finish, having suffered from technical issues which forced him to pit on lap two whilst running in sixth.

WRT’s Fabio Scherer was the best of the DTM rookies in 12th, ahead of Brit Harrison Newey in 13th.

Former Formula 1 driver Robert Kubica could only manage 14th in his ART-run BMW in the Pole’s first race in the tin-top series.

Team WRT’s Ferdinand von Habsburg failed to take the start after the Austrian’s accident in practice.

Race two is scheduled to get underway at 13:33 CEST (12:33 BST) on Sunday.

Race result

1 51 Nico MÜLLER Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline Audi RS5 DTM 26 57:58.596 2:09.756 2
2 53 Jamie GREEN Audi Sport Team Rosberg Audi RS5 DTM 26 19.502 2:10.184 11
3 28 Loïc DUVAL Audi Sport Team Phoenix Audi RS5 DTM 26 22.839 2:11.429 7
4 99 Mike ROCKENFELLER Audi Sport Team Phoenix Audi RS5 DTM 26 29.234 2:10.054 4
5 33 René RAST Audi Sport Team Rosberg Audi RS5 DTM 26 32.023 2:10.241 3
6 25 Philipp ENG BMW Team RBM BMW M4 DTM 26 36.424 2:11.394 10
7 22 Lucas AUER BMW Team RMR BMW M4 DTM 26 38.205 2:12.008 9
8 16 Timo GLOCK BMW Team RMG BMW M4 DTM 26 42.692 2:10.777 6
9 4 Robin FRIJNS Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline Audi RS5 DTM 26 51.888 2:09.861 1
10 27 Jonathan ABERDEIN BMW Team RMR BMW M4 DTM 26 54.149 2:12.603 13
11 11 Marco WITTMANN BMW Team RMG BMW M4 DTM 26 54.584 2:10.117 8
12 13 Fabio SCHERER Audi Sport Team WRT Audi RS5 DTM 26 57.743 2:12.365 12
13 10 Harrison NEWEY Audi Sport Team WRT Audi RS5 DTM 26 1:11.793 2:12.207 15
14 8 Robert KUBICA BMW Team ART BMW M4 DTM 26 1:18.844 2:12.945 14
15 31 Sheldon VAN DER LINDE BMW Team RBM BMW M4 DTM 23 + 3 LAPS 2:12.105 5
NS 62 Ferdinand VON HABSBURG Audi Sport Team WRT Audi RS5 DTM DNS N/A 16
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