Germany’s Marco Wittmann claimed a brilliantly assertive wet-weather victory as the DTM put on a spectacular show at the TT Circuit Assen, the Netherlands’ ‘Cathedral of Speed’.
Starting from pole position, and running the first three laps behind the Safety Car, the BMW driver braved the worst weather conditions to pull a narrow lead over title rival Rene Rast (GER, Audi). On a similar strategy, the leading pair dropped behind Nico Muller (SUI, Audi), who crept through the field after cleverly gambling on a late stop for fresh rubber in a bid to maximize his pace in the closing laps.
On colder rubber, the Swiss was unable to resist Wittmann’s advances, but, once his tires were up to temperature, he could build a narrow cushion over Rast, eventually claiming a superb runner-up spot.
At the exact halfway point of the season (nine races of 18 completed), the top four championship contenders booked out today’s top four finishing positions, with Philipp Eng (AUT, BMW) coming home fourth.
Today’s result means that Rast (145 points) drops just one point to Muller (121), who sits ahead of Eng (111) and Wittmann (100).
Challenging conditions – maximum speed at minimal grip
The Assen circuit is the fastest track on the DTM calendar, with the infamous ‘Ramshoek’ the quickest corner of the entire season, taken at speeds of 270km/h in dry conditions, and with a lateral force of around 3g. Saturday’s showery weather added further spice to the action: the race director electing to begin the race behind the Safety Car for the opening three laps. During the race, the rains slightly abated, meaning a drier line could emerge, but the predicted heavy thunderstorms happily never arrived.
Positive results for Glock, Aston Martin
After a disappointing start to his season, Timo Glock (GER, BMW) enjoyed one of the most competitive outings of the year, driving superbly and finishing a strong fifth – despite plowing through the gravel after an off in the early laps.
R-Motorsport Aston Martin continued to make progress: Jake Dennis (GBR) and Ferdinand von Habsburg (AUT) finished 12th and 13th respectively. Paul Di Resta showed genuinely impressive pace but his race was stymied by a lengthy pit-stop, meaning he could only finish 14th.
Quotes – 1st race, Assen
“Making a comeback after my difficult home race at the Norisring with pole position and victory here is a super feeling. To earn the maximum number of available points is an outstanding result. Today, I had a mega good car, just sensational. Thanks to the team for that! However, it wasn’t as easy as it seemed. None of the drivers were familiar with such conditions and Audi was strong as well – particularly in the opening stages."
Marco Wittmann, winner
“Our car was extremely fast. And moving up from sixth to second was really good. So we can be happy and we’ll be attacking again tomorrow. Today, our goal was to make our stop at a late stage, get the set of tires to the right pressure and keep up the pace. Sadly, we didn’t get the second set to the right temperature quickly enough – I needed another half a lap to try and keep Marco behind."
Nico Muller, 2nd place
“In cold conditions, we were better than BMW at getting the rain tires to the right temperature. Still, we were stuck behind Marco, so I wasn’t able to benefit from this slight advantage. Nevertheless, the duel in the opening stages was fun. As the points leader, you can’t afford to start any crazy actions because points are crucial. Therefore, I happily settled for position. For us, third place is a good result to score many valuable points."
Rene Rast, 3rd place
Assen 1 – Race Result
Pos Driver Team Gap
1 Marco Wittmann BMW Team RMG
2 Nico Muller Audi Team Abt Sportsline 3.1
3 Rene Rast Audi Team Rosberg 8.0
4 Philipp Eng BMW Team RBM 25.3
5 Timo Glock BMW Team RMG 25.5
6 Jonathan Aberdein Audi WRT Racing 27.8
7 Jamie Green Audi Team Rosberg 36.0
8 Loic Duval Audi Team Phoenix 42.4
9 Mike Rockenfeller Audi Team Phoenix 43.6
10 Sheldon Van Der Linde BMW Team RBM 44.1
11 Pietro Fittipaldi Audi WRT Racing 45.1
12 Jake Dennis Aston Martin R-Motorsport 45.8
13 Ferdinand von Habsburg Aston Martin R-Motorsport 48.0
14 Paul di Resta Aston Martin R-Motorsport 48.9
15 Bruno Spengler BMW Team RBM 53.3
16 Joel Eriksson BMW Team RBM 61.1
17 Robin Frijns Audi Team Abt Sportsline DNF
18 Daniel Juncadella Aston Martin R-Motorsport DNF