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Engel drove with 90-degree steering angle on straights in Hockenheim DTM

Mercedes driver Maro Engel has revealed the extent of technical issues he was nursing in the final stages of Sunday’s DTM race at Hockenheim.

Watch: Round 8: Hockenheim - Race 2 Highlights

After reporting an undisclosed issue to his team over radio, Engel was having to drive with a 90-degree steering angle to keep his Mercedes-AMG GT3 going in a straight line, as he valiantly tried to defend third place against the Schubert BMW of Rene Rast.

The 38-year-old eventually lost out to both Rast and Sheldon van der Linde on the final lap, but was lucky to even make it to the finish in fifth after his car completely broke down on its way back to the pits. 

The problem was linked to the tie rod, which forms an important part of the connection between the steering and the wheels.

"It's just emblematic of our season,” Engel told Autosport’s sister title Motorsport-Total.com.

"Five laps before the end, I noticed that the steering had moved at the exit of the last corner. Something had come loose.

"But the steering kept changing more and more. You could tell there was play and movement in the suspension, it was getting more and more.

“I then kept away from the kerbs, except for Turn 1, otherwise the BMWs would have been over immediately.

“The [steering] rack broke, at least in part. I then drove down the straight with a 90-degree steering angle. 

“In the end it was luck, because on the in-lap it broke completely. It was impossible to drive there, so I couldn't bring the car back.”

Maro Engel, Mercedes-AMG Team Landgraf Motorsport

Photo by: Alexander Trienitz

Maro Engel, Mercedes-AMG Team Landgraf Motorsport

Having been unable to set a competitive time in qualifying due to traffic, Rast started from near the rear of the pack but had advanced to 11th by the time the safety car was deployed on lap three due to a collision between fellow BMW driver Marco Wittmann and the Lamborghini of Christian Engelhart.

A decision to extend the first stint until lap 18 of 36 paid dividends, even allowing him to take the lead of the race as he exited the pits. Although Rast stayed in that position for less than a lap as a gaggle of cars overtook him while he struggled on cold tyres, he was able to consolidate fourth place.

Engel’s technical troubles then allowed Rast to score his 50th career podium in DTM.

Rast was himself surprised to gain so many positions over the course of the race, having previously thought it would be impossible to finish on the podium from so far down the grid.

"We had a different strategy in qualifying and drove offset to everyone else,” he explained.

“Then I always had traffic on my laps and had to stop again and again. That's why I was only 23rd. Of course, that went stupidly, so we gambled a bit.

"Then in the race you saw what the pace could have been in qualifying. From 23rd to third. If you'd told me that before the race, I'd have said, ‘have you looked at the new DTM?’

"That's actually impossible if it's a normal race. It can happen under a safety car or something, but in a normal race it's actually impossible.

Podium: third place René Rast, Schubert Motorsport

Photo by: Alexander Trienitz

Podium: third place René Rast, Schubert Motorsport

"I stayed out for a long time and set fast lap times. Meanwhile, the others were fighting and I was making up places virtually.

“That's how I came out first after the pit stop. I thought I was in the wrong movie, I was very surprised.

"I then dueled with Maro at a distance. I always looked to see what his tyres looked like. He slid properly, and so did I at some point.

"And in the last three laps it just looked strange with him. He was just snaking on the straights.”

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