Three in a row for Nico Muller
Three wins in a row for Nico Müller. At the Lausitzring the Audi racer became the first DTM driver in history to win the first three races in one season. However, claiming victory for the 28-year-old Swissman wasn’t as easy as during the Spa-Francorchamps season opener where he secured the maximum point score in both races. After a disappointing weekend in Belgium, BMW showed itself considerably stronger and claimed second place with Sheldon van der Linde. Temporarily, the 21-year-old even put Müller under pressure and was in contention for victory. Next to six Audis, four BMWs made it into the top ten. Third across the finish line was Robin Frijns (Audi) who, like at Spa, was unable to convert his pole position into his maiden DTM race win. Ferdinand Habsburg, meanwhile, sprang a surprise. With the privately-run Audi of Belgian team WRT, the Austrian secured sixth place with a competitive performance.
Prior to the fourth race of the season on Sunday, last year’s runner-up Müller is leading the drivers’ standings with 80 points already. Frijns is now second (43) from defending champion Rast (35). At the Lausitzring the DTM is having its first-ever double header as only one week hence, the fifth and sixth race of the season will be held at the same venue.
In a race that included numerous position fights, Nico Müller already laid the foundation for his success at the start. In the run to the critical first corner, he pipped his Dutch fellow Audi driver Robin Frijns. Sheldon van der Linde also made up a position at the start and claimed third place from Loïc Duval (Audi) who ended up as the only driver not to make it to the finish. Defending champion René Rast also managed to make up ground at the start, but then became victim of a contact and had to head out onto the grass at turn 3 in avoidance.
Van der Linde confirmed BMW’s upward trend and put Frijns under pressure. The South African came into the pits for his tyre change early and made his way past Frijns later on as the Dutchman rejoined the race following his pit stop. After that, van der Linde showed his spirit with the BMW M4 DTM and steadily reduced the gap to Müller for several laps. The Swiss, however, saw off the attack, made no mistake and eventually safely brought victory home ahead of van der Linde and Frijns. With fourth and fifth place respectively, double champion Marco Wittmann and ex-Formula 1 driver Timo Glock underlined the fact that BMW has made significant progress in only a fortnight. Rast, meanwhile, who also lost time during the tyre change, only finished seventh behind Habsburg. On Friday, the two-time DTM champion had lost his victory from the Sunday race at Spa following a decision from the officials. Due to the unauthorised use of additional power (push-to-pass), the German was given a time penalty and dropped to third position.
Repeating his performance from Spa-Francorchamps on Saturday, Frijns had claimed his second pole position of the season in qualifying. Müller and Loïc Duval rounded out the clean sweep of the first three grid positions for Audi. BMW showed itself considerably stronger than during the season opener in Belgium and also had three of its cars among the first three rows of the grid with Sheldon van der Linde, Glock and Wittmann.