The win put Auer back in the DTM Drivers’ title hunt. In the 13th race of the DTM season, the Mercedes-AMG driver drove from pole position to victory in adverse conditions at the Nürburgring and thus moved up from sixth to second in the drivers’ standings. For Auer, it was the fourth race win of his DTM career and his third of the current season. Team mates Paul Di Resta, Robert Wickens and Maro Engel scored second through fourth to ensure an all-Mercedes podium in the opener. “It was a mega race for us,” a delighted Auer said at the finish. “After my pit stop, I was a bit confused, but our strategy worked out in the difficult conditions.”
Behind the Mercedes quartet, René Rast finished as the best-placed Audi driver in fifth ahead of his fellow Audi driver Jamie Green. Augusto Farfus, who dominantly led the race in the opening stages, finished eighth behind Edoardo Mortara and thus was the best-placed BMW driver. Farfus and Audi’s Mattias Ekstrom were rahter unlucky with their tyre choice. Both drivers changed to slick tyres at a time when rain set in again moments later. They both had to make a second pit stop and lost their contact to the front-runners. The Mercedes-AMG DTM drivers, who turned out to be successful, as well as Rast and Green only changed to a fresh set of rain tyres at a very late stage. Ekstrom, who finished 15th in the race, remains in the lead of the standings.
After 13 of this season’s 18 races, Ekström is leading with 128 points from Auer (127), Rast (124), Rockenfeller (110), Green (107), Glock (104), Martin (102) and defending champion Wittmann (97).
In the main race, it was Wickens’ time to shine as he notched up his first win of the season. The Mercedes-AMG driver had started the 14th race of the season from third place on the grid and crossed the finish line as the winner after 40 laps. After the clean sweep of the top four on Saturday, the Stuttgart-based brand scored a 1-2 with Di Resta finishing second this time. For Wickens, it was his sixth victory in his 80th DTM race. Defending champion Marco Wittmann rounded out the podium in the Eifel by finishing third. Wickens commented after the race, “I had a great battle with Marco. The race was demanding, but it was great fun.”
In the standings, everything is still open after 14 of this season’s 18 races. Having started from 13th place, Ekström finished in sixth place and slightly extended his championship lead while Auer, second in the standings, lost his chances of a possible podium finish after spinning out on his own in the early stages of the race. Next to the Austrian, Rast, the third-placed in the standings, didn’t score any points either. Due to a penalty, the Audi driver had to start from the back and never got close to the point-scoring positions.
Wittmann, who had started from pole position, first was the hunter, but then was the prey. After losing out to Di Resta in the duel at the start, he closed the gap to the leader again and was able to claim back first place on lap 15. However, his joy only was a brief affair, three laps later, the two times’ champion had to hand his position to eventual race winner Wickens. Wittmann did try to attack the Canadian in the remaining race time, but had to give up another position to Di Resta on lap 35.
With four races remaining, the battle for the drivers’ title remains thrilling with Ekström leading with 136 points from Auer (127), Rast (124), Wittmann (115), Green (113), Rockenfeller (110) and Glock (108). With 112 points still at stake in the four races and qualifying sessions, approximately ten drivers still have realistic chances of winning the title.
The battle for the DTM title continues at Spielberg’s Red Bull Ring in Austria in two weeks, from 22-24 September. The grand finale will be held at Hockenheim mid-October.