René Rast moved into the lead of the DTM drivers’ standings with a comfortable victory in race one at Circuit Zolder, finishing ahead of title rival Robin Frijns after a controlled drive.
Rast had started the race from pole position and was in control of the race throughout, with the German never being seriously challenged for the win.
The early laps saw the reigning champion’s closest challenge come from fellow front-row starter Ferdinand von Habsburg, who pursues early on in his WRT Audi.
But the Austrian lost out to the charging Frijns on lap ten, with the Dutchman then managing to reduce Rast’s lead to just over half a second at the closest, halfway through the race.
Despite looking like he could pose a threat to Rast, Frijns then dropped away over the following laps and ultimately finished just under a second back, taking his 11th podium finish of the season.
Rast’s third consecutive win, and another poor race for Nico Müller, means he moves into the championship lead, with a ten-point advantage over Müller heading into Sunday’s race.
Despite losing second early on, von Habsburg held on to third to claim a first-ever podium in the DTM, although the BMW of Jonathan Aberdein pushed the Austrian hard in the final laps.
For Aberdein, fourth represents the South African driver’s best result of the year, equalling his best result in the series which he claimed twice in 2019.
It was another strong race for the independent WRT team, with Fabio Scherer in fifth to equal his best result claimed in just the preceding race last weekend.
Erstwhile points leader Müller was just sixth, after the Swiss had a torrid opening lap. After qualifying in a lowly eighth, Müller was pushed wide at turn 2 on the first lap by Harrison Newey, dropping him to 15th.
The Abt Sportsline driver fought back well in the race, including a fast pitstop seeing him move ahead of BMW’s Marco Wittmann, but the recovery was not enough to stop him losing the series lead for the first time this year.
Newey himself was seventh, having been pressured into a mistake at Turn 1 by Müller on lap nine shortly after both had pitted.
Jamie Green was eighth, although the Team Rosberg driver could have been higher had he not been turned into a spin by BMW’s Philipp Eng at the first chicane on lap 11, for which Eng was given a drive-through penalty.
BMW’s Timo Glock and Marco Wittmann completed the top ten, Glock having twice been passed by Green after the Brit’s first move was deemed to be unfair by the stewards who had ordered the places be switched.
Audi’s Mike Rockenfeller retired from the race after just four laps due to an oil leak, whilst BMW Team ART’s Robert Kubica was out after 18 laps when his car’s engine dropped down a cylinder.
Series débutant Benoît Tréluyer finished last, one lap down, the Frenchman continuing to struggle for pace except in the pitlane, where he was caught speeding and given a drive-through penalty.
|1||33||René RAST||Audi Sport Team Rosberg||Audi RS5 DTM||41||58:10.281||1:20.396||1|
|2||4||Robin FRIJNS||Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline||Audi RS5 DTM||41||0.877||1:20.422||3|
|3||62||Ferdinand VON HABSBURG||Audi Sport Team WRT||Audi RS5 DTM||41||22.790||1:20.989||2|
|4||27||Jonathan ABERDEIN||BMW Team RMR||BMW M4 DTM||41||26.462||1:21.211||4|
|5||13||Fabio SCHERER||Audi Sport Team WRT||Audi RS5 DTM||41||34.695||1:21.123||9|
|6||51||Nico MÜLLER||Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline||Audi RS5 DTM||41||35.154||1:21.462||8|
|7||10||Harrison NEWEY||Audi Sport Team WRT||Audi RS5 DTM||41||36.041||1:21.216||6|
|8||53||Jamie GREEN||Audi Sport Team Rosberg||Audi RS5 DTM||41||42.515||1:20.947||5|
|9||16||Timo GLOCK||BMW Team RMG||BMW M4 DTM||41||42.982||1:21.419||13|
|10||11||Marco WITTMANN||BMW Team RMG||BMW M4 DTM||41||1:11.634||1:22.334||14|
|11||22||Lucas AUER||BMW Team RMR||BMW M4 DTM||41||1:14.729||1:21.736||15|
|12||25||Philipp ENG||BMW Team RBM||BMW M4 DTM||41||1:17.833||1:21.273||7|
|13||31||Sheldon VAN DER LINDE||BMW Team RBM||BMW M4 DTM||41||1:18.323||1:21.784||11|
|14||19||Benoît TRÉLUYER||Audi Sport Team Phoenix||Audi RS5 DTM||40||+ 1 LAP||1:22.022||16|
|R||8||Robert KUBICA||BMW Team ART||Audi RS5 DTM||18||DNF||1:21.908||12|
|R||99||Mike ROCKENFELLER||Audi Sport Team Phoenix||Audi RS5 DTM||4||DNF||1:48.574||10|