Wittmann holds off Rast to win Brands DTM opener for BMW

Marco Wittmann held off last-lap pressure from DTM title rival Rene Rast to win the Brands Hatch opener, as Paul Di Resta surprised the field by leading the early laps

Wittmann holds off Rast to win Brands DTM opener for BMW

BMW polesitter Wittmann - as well as Rast - bogged down off the line, while Di Resta made a getaway so swift that it eventually earned him a penalty for a jumped start, as he powered his R-Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage into the lead down Paddock Hill Bend.

At the end of the first lap, Di Resta established a lead of almost one second over Wittmann and defensive driving allowed the underpowered Vantage to hold onto an unlikely lead through the first phase of the race.

Di Resta would concede the lead once he made his mandatory pitstop on the 16th lap of 42, serving a five-second time penalty for his jumped start, but Wittmann had to work his way back into the net lead having stopped two laps earlier.

The crucial move came when Wittmann steered his BMW through a narrow gap caused by the early-stopping Jamie Green running wide at Paddock Hill Bend, opening up space for the two-time DTM champion to power past the Audi driver and then-net leader Rast.

Once the pitstops had shaken out, Wittmann had a lead of over five seconds to Rast.

But a slow lap from Wittmann late in the race allowed Rast to close to within three seconds and the Audi driver loomed large behind the BMW driver on the final lap.

But Rast was unable to find a way past and crossed the line behind Wittmann just 0.3s adrift.

Rast had put himself into position to hound Wittmann by picking off two Audi stablemates on the run to Hawthorns in quick succession following his mandatory pitstop.

He first passed Loic Duval and then relegated title contender Nico Muller to the final place on the podium.

Duval would fall to fifth at the flag after Audi's Robin Frijns pulled off a similar move to Rast to take fourth late on.

Philipp Eng managed a series of aggressive moves to seal sixth on the grid, most notably running side-by-side with Di Resta through Paddock Hill Bend and scything past at Druids before passing Mike Rockenfeller late on.

Rockenfeller finished seventh and the top 10 was rounded out by BMW's Sheldon van der Linde, WRT Audi's Jonathan Aberdein and the highest-placed R-Motorsport entry of Daniel Juncadella.

Juncadella's points finish was aided by an as yet unexplained retirement for Di Resta late on, who joined his team-mates Ferdinand Habsburg and Jake Dennis in the garage.

Habsburg retired not long after an off at the exit of Sheene, while Juncadella's rapid start pushed BMW's Timo Glock into the R-Motorsport driver's team-mate Dennis.

Dennis then collided with the pitwall and damaged the rear of his car, forcing him into retirement.

WRT's Pietro Fittipaldi did not take part in the race after the heavy damage sustained to his Audi in his qualifying crash could not be repaired in time.

BMW's Joel Eriksson also failed to start the race, with the reason for his non-start yet to be made clear.

BMW had replaced Wittmann's engine ahead of the Brands Hatch race and introduced two spare power units, which means it cannot count the points from Wittmann, Eng or van der Linde towards its manufacturers' total.

Race result - 42 laps

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Marco Wittmann RMG BMW 56m39.275s
2 Rene Rast Rosberg Audi 0.374s
3 Nico Muller Abt Audi 8.566s
4 Robin Frijns Abt Audi 15.646s
5 Loic Duval Phoenix Audi 18.236s
6 Philipp Eng RMR BMW 18.813s
7 Mike Rockenfeller Phoenix Audi 20.056s
8 Sheldon van der Linde RBM BMW 29.909s
9 Jonathan Aberdein WRT Audi 37.087s
10 Daniel Juncadella R-Motorsport Aston Martin 37.385s
11 Jamie Green Rosberg Audi 48.996s
12 Bruno Spengler RMG BMW 52.465s
13 Timo Glock RMR BMW 1m05.237s
14 Paul Di Resta R-Motorsport Aston Martin 3 Laps
15 Ferdinand Habsburg R-Motorsport Aston Martin 4 Laps
- Jake Dennis R-Motorsport Aston Martin Retirement
- Pietro Fittipaldi WRT Audi Withdrawn
- Joel Eriksson RBM BMW Not started
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