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Nico Müller controls opening race at the Nürburgring to extend advantage

Nico Müller extended his championship lead at the top of the DTM standings with a controlled victory in the opening race at the Nürburgring, finishing over 15 seconds ahead of fellow Audi driver René Rast.

Müller started the race from pole position and was never really changed during the race in sunny conditions in the Eifel region, with Rast providing the closest competition in the early stages of the race.

By the time the Swiss racer made his mandatory pit stop on lap 12 he had opened up an advantage of three seconds, which he extended in the second phase of the race on fresh rubber to a comfortable 15.655 seconds.

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Rast claimed second, but had to battle hard with Robin Frijns for the position, which in turn helped Müller to get away at the front.

The battle came to a head just four laps from the finish when Frijns, clearly faster than Rast and on tyres which were a lap newer, used to DRS to make a move into Turn 1, but the dutchman carried too much speed and clattered the inside kerb before spinning out.

The pirouette for Frijns dropped him two places, with BMW’s Marco Wittmann and Audi’s Mike Rockenfeller also getting past.

Wittmann ran fifth in the early phases of the race but the two-time champion closed up to Rockenfeller with fresher rubber and on lap 23 made a pass on his fellow German at Turn 1, although it took until Turn 4 for the move to be completed.

Rockenfeller claimed fourth, just ahead of the recovering Frijns, who remains second in the points in fifth.

BMW’s Philipp Eng was sixth, ahead of stable-mate Timo Glock in seventh, with Glock having gained a place when he passed Audi’s Loïc Duval in the pitstop phase of the race with a faster tyre change.

BMW’s Sheldon van der Linde was eighth, the South African gaining a place due to a penalty for Duval which came for corssing the white line at the pit entrance.

Duval nonetheless lost just one place for his penalty, originally five seconds but increased to ten before the end of the race, with BMW’s Jonathan Aberdein completing the top ten.

Aberdein only gained the final points-paying position because team-mate Lucas Auer was given a post-race four-second penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage.

That also promoted WRT’s Ferdinand von Habsburg to 11th, ahead of his fellow Austrian Auer, who was thus 12th.

All 16 drivers finished the race, with Team ART’s Robert Kubica in last, 25 seconds behind the next nearest car and with a fastest race lap which was over two seconds slower than the best.

Race result

1 51 Nico MÜLLER Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline Audi RS5 DTM 31 58:10.251 1:49.975 1
2 33 René RAST Audi Sport Team Rosberg Audi RS5 DTM 31 15.655 1:50.512 2
3 11 Marco WITTMANN BMW Team RMG BMW M4 DTM 31 18.141 1:51.016 4
4 99 Mike ROCKENFELLER Audi Sport Team Phoenix Audi RS5 DTM 31 20.842 1:50.998 5
5 4 Robin FRIJNS Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline Audi RS5 DTM 31 22.978 1:50.788 3
6 25 Philipp ENG BMW Team RBM BMW M4 DTM 31 23.389 1:51.114 9
7 16 Timo GLOCK BMW Team RMG BMW M4 DTM 31 28.101 1:50.901 12
8 31 Sheldon VAN DER LINDE BMW Team RBM BMW M4 DTM 31 31.236 1:51.184 6
9 28 Loïc DUVAL Audi Sport Team Phoenix Audi RS5 DTM 31 38.442 1:51.094 8
10 27 Jonathan ABERDEIN BMW Team RMR BMW M4 DTM 31 46.735 1:50.765 16
11 62 Ferdinand VON HABSBURG Audi Sport Team WRT Audi RS5 DTM 31 47.537 1:51.571 11
12 22 Lucas AUER BMW Team RMR BMW M4 DTM 31 47.905 1:51.380 10
13 53 Jamie GREEN Audi Sport Team Rosberg Audi RS5 DTM 31 49.168 1:50.556 7
14 10 Harrison NEWEY Audi Sport Team WRT Audi RS5 DTM 31 50.200 1:51.002 13
15 13 Fabio SCHERER Audi Sport Team WRT Audi RS5 DTM 31 51.984 1:51.064 15
16 8 Robert KUBICA BMW Team ART Audi RS5 DTM 31 1:16.023 1:52.206 14
DTM points deficit after Round 9
Graphic: TouringCars.Net
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