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René Rast heads Nico Müller to win fourth race in a row

René Rast won his fourth race in a row, completing a perfect four out of four at Zolder, to extend his championship leader further, although title rival Nico Müller followed him home in second to limit the damage to his own challenge.

Rast had missed out to the independent WRT Audi of Ferdinand von Habsburg in qualifying, something which the reigning champion was not happy about earlier in the day.

But at the start of the race the Team Rosberg driver sought to make amends for that, challenging for the lead at Turn 2, as behind him Müller moved from fifth on the grid up to third by the first corner.

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Ultimately Rast couldn’t quite get past Habsburg at the first corner, although he remained close to the Austrian for the first laps.

The race was only a lap old when a crash on lap two caused huge ramifications in the title fight. Approaching Turn 8, BMW’s Jonathan Aberdein locked his brakes and crashed into the rear of WRT’s Fabio Scherer, who was running in fifth at the time.

Just a few corners earlier, Audi’s Robin Frijns had got past Scherer after a poor start for the Dutchman, which would ultimately put him in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Aberdein hit Scherer’s Audi, which in turn was sent spearing into the innocent Frijns ahead, taking all three drivers out and bringing out the safety car.

For Frijns, the incident could effectively spell the end of his title chances, as he now heads to the season finale with only an outside chance of the title.

Racing resumed on lap five, but only for one lap, after an incident at the back of the pack. Lucas Auer clipped the back of fellow BMW racer Philipp Eng at the exit of Turn 3, pitching his M4 momentarily into the air.

Both drivers limped on, but were out of the race, with Eng forced to stop before getting back to the pits when his front-left wheel caught fire.

After a second safety car period of five laps, racing resumed again on lap 11 with Habsburg just under a second ahead of Rast.

Rast pitted one lap later than Habsburg on lap 13 but it was enough to give the German the jump on his rival, as Habsburg then fell away from the lead in the middle phase of the race.

Müller passed Habsburg for second on lap 26, as the Austrian rapidly fell away from the pace, with Robert Kubica following a lap later shortly by Timo Glock and most of the remaining runners.

Habsburg made a second pitstop on lap 32 for ‘safety reasons’, ultimately returning to the track a lap down.

By catching and passing Habsburg, Kubica claimed the final podium position, although it still leaves the Pole last of the full-season drivers in the championship standings.

BMW’s Glock was fourth, ahead of Audi’s Jamie Green in fifth. The Team Rosberg driver caught the wrath of Müller on lap 15 when the two were battling, as Green defended his position for a further half a lap after cutting the Turn 5/6 chicane.

Mike Rockenfeller was sixth, ahead of Sheldon van der Linde in seventh, Marco Wittmann in eighth, Harrison Newey in ninth and the distant Habsburg in tenth as the last classified finisher.

Another win for Rast means he has opened up a 19-point championship advantage over Müller, with just two races left to run at the Hockenheimring next month.

Race result

1 33 René RAST Audi Sport Team Rosberg Audi RS5 DTM 40 1:00:29.757 1:20.140 2
2 51 Nico MÜLLER Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline Audi RS5 DTM 40 11.500 1:20.577 5
3 8 Robert KUBICA BMW Team ART Audi RS5 DTM 40 25.785 1:20.899 10
4 16 Timo GLOCK BMW Team RMG BMW M4 DTM 40 29.572 1:21.206 14
5 53 Jamie GREEN Audi Sport Team Rosberg Audi RS5 DTM 40 30.209 1:21.061 7
6 99 Mike ROCKENFELLER Audi Sport Team Phoenix Audi RS5 DTM 40 31.971 1:21.424 9
7 31 Sheldon VAN DER LINDE BMW Team RBM BMW M4 DTM 40 33.095 1:21.559 11
8 11 Marco WITTMANN BMW Team RMG BMW M4 DTM 40 47.199 1:21.614 15
9 10 Harrison NEWEY Audi Sport Team WRT Audi RS5 DTM 40 47.651 1:21.490 12
10 62 Ferdinand VON HABSBURG Audi Sport Team WRT Audi RS5 DTM 39 + 1 LAP 1:20.841 1
R 22 Lucas AUER BMW Team RMR BMW M4 DTM 6 DNF 1:34.403 13
R 19 Benoît TRÉLUYER Audi Sport Team Phoenix Audi RS5 DTM 6 DNF 1:35.050 16
R 25 Philipp ENG BMW Team RBM BMW M4 DTM 5 DNF 1:33.542 8
R 27 Jonathan ABERDEIN BMW Team RMR BMW M4 DTM 2 DNF N/A 6
R 13 Fabio SCHERER Audi Sport Team WRT Audi RS5 DTM 2 DNF N/A 4
R 4 Robin FRIJNS Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline Audi RS5 DTM 1 DNF N/A 3
DTM points deficit after Round 16
Graphic: TouringCars.Net
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