Rene Rast claimed his second victory of the 2020 DTM season in a wet-dry race at the Lausitzring after overhauling fellow Audi drivers Nico Muller and Robin Frijns.
Muller pulled away cleanly from pole position in his Abt Audi, with team-mate Frijns following behind in second after getting the jump on Rast, who made a sluggish start from the front row of the grid.
Muller initially faced intense pressure from Frijns as they ran nose-to-tail in the opening laps, but he was able to eventually pull away from his team-mate and establish a three-second lead out front.
The complexion of the race changed approaching the midway point of the 55-minute encounter, as the sole round of mandatory pitstops began from lap 10 onwards.
Fabio Scherer was the first driver to head to the pitlane to dump his worn wet tyres, and immediately found himself two seconds quicker on slicks than race leader Muller, prompting others to follow suit.
Among the frontrunners, Frijns and Rast were the first to stop on lap 13, with Muller staying out for another tour before diving into the pits.
This turned out to be the crucial moment of the race, as both Frijns and Philipp Eng – who had pitted even earlier on lap 12 – cleared Muller while the Abt driver got heat into his tyres after his stop.
Muller subsequently lost further positions to both Marco Wittmann and Rast, dropping down to fifth place.
However, as the laps wore on, the race started coming back towards Rast and Muller, both clearing the BMWs of Eng and Wittmann to move back into podium positions.
Rast, who was running ahead of Muller, then started chasing Frijns for the lead, closing right on his tail by lap 27.
The reigning champion initially tried to pass Frijns on the outside of Turn 1, but then moved across to gain the inside line into Turn 2, which proved crucial in him taking the lead of the race.
Muller followed Rast two laps later, but was unable to close the two-second gap to his title rival and had to settle for second, as Frijns dropped five seconds behind the leaders but hung onto the final spot on the podium.
Former Formula 1 driver Timo Glock staged an amazing recovery drive after beaching his car in qualifying, finishing as the top BMW in fourth.
Glock had originally qualified dead last for the race, but gained two positions after WRT Audi duo Ferdinand Habsburg and Harrison Newey were penalised for speeding under a red flag in qualifying.
The German driver was up to 10th by the fourth lap and then took advantage of an early stop to record his best result since last year’s Hockenheim finale.
Wittmann dropped to fifth in the sister BMW after struggling for pace late on, but still finished six seconds clear of the factory Audi of Mike Rockenfeller, whom he had lost a place to prior to the pitstops.
Loic Duval made a great start to move up to sixth early on but was unable to make any further progress and finished in seventh, ahead of the BMWs of Eng and Sheldon van der Linde.
Completing the top 10 was Audi’s Jamie Green, who beat Habsburg for the final points-paying position by a second.
Robert Kubica was promoted to 12th on the grid after penalties for Habsburg and Newey, but made a slow start off the line and dropped to 16th in his ART-run BMW.
DTM Lausitzring II race one result – 32 laps
|9||Sheldon van der Linde||RBM||22.665s|