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The brand with the four rings dominated proceedings in Saturday’s second free practice at Spielberg.

At the Red Bull Ring, four Audi drivers came out on top. With a time of 1m22.137s, Jamie Green was fastest, followed by René Rast (1m22.178s), Mattias Ekström (1m22.249s) and Mike Rockenfeller (1m22.321s).

“The car was very good to drive, I have no complaints. Now we have to get  a perfect lap in during qualifying,” DTM points’ leader Mattias Ekström showed himself happy.

Edoardo Mortara was the best-placed Mercedes-AMG driver in fifth with a time of 1m22.393s from local hero Lucas Auer (1m22.425s).

None of the BMW drivers managed to make it into the top ten, defending champion Marco Wittmann was the best of them in eleventh place. However, with his time of 1m22.847s, he was already 0.710 seconds down on Green.

After Friday, Green again was the fastest driver in the field on Saturday morning. “The start of free practice was delayed due to the fog. It was cold. The car handled well, I was happy with the balance."

"Now, I am concentrating on qualifying,” Green said. In the DTM drivers’ standings, he is fifth with 113 points."

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From the involved parties’ point of view, it’s often difficult to decide who was the victim and who the wrongdoer.

The incident when Timo Glock crashed in the Sunday race into the rear of Nico Müller’s Audi caused controversial discussions. At the end of the day, the BMW driver received a booking for having caused the collision.

Glock, however, sensed a conspiracy and accused the Swiss to manipulate and Audi to use team strategy. An embarrassing approach for the fans, he said. Mercedes driver Robert Wickens was of the same opinion.

“We witnessed them outbraking while they didn’t accelerate out of the corners. It was easy to see what they were trying to do,” the race winner said about the drivers representing the Ingolstadters.

DTM.com investigated the case and tried to get to the bottom of the reciprocate accusations. While Timo Glock wasn’t ready to make further statements, Müller defended himself against the criticism and insisted on his point of view that was shared by the DMSB spokesman to a large extent.

“I registered the decision. I already expressed my basic opinion regarding the Sunday race and the games played by Audi. There’s nothing else I have to say,” explained Glock who had appeared as rueful sinner following his fit of rage at Zandvoort. At the Dutch North Sea coast, the BMW driver caused a lot of discussions by blocking Mercedes driver Edoardo Mortara and the following finger affair. This time, however, Glock didn’t change his opinion.

None the less, the DMSB didn’t agree. “Somebody may have come to the conclusion that Müller deliberately drove slowly and braked too early, thus brake-testing and trapping Glock. But perception and evidence are two sides of a coin."

"From the outside and Glock’s point of view it sounds logical. When it comes to the facts, however, Müller must be cleared of the accusations. The range regarding the verdict wasn’t large. In the end, the decision was slightly off the middle. The middle would have been ‘No further action’,” said Michael Kramp regarding Glock’s second booking of the season.

“The DMSB spokes man added: “It’s the same as in the traffic on the road. The one who causes a rear-end collision is responsible. And we are talking about a rear-end collision on the straight. An extremely rare incident. Müller’s car was massively damaged and he was forced into retirement a few laps later."

"Usually, the driver who caused such an incident receives a drive-thru penalty. Exculpatory for Glock was the fact that Müller really braked very early – what could be comprehended by dint of the data. But we couldn’t prove that he did so deliberately to brake-test Glock."

"There was a lot of room to the right, on the racing line. Glock easily could have passed Müller. That’s to Müller’s credit. Glock wasn’t forced to hit Müller. Müller definitely was driving on the inside, on the left – he only braked very late. Had Glock anticipated what was going to happen he could have passed Müller without touching him."

The decision conceded that Müller who currently prepares in Riga for his second appearance in the World Rallycross Championship was right and consequently, the Swiss occupied the moral high ground.

He describes the crash from his point of view: “I may defend my position, We all don’t like losing a position. Therefore, I tried to keep Timo behind me. I defended my position in a square and fair style and brakes as I thought it would be necessary to make it through the corner. It’s normal that you have to brake earlier if you are driving off the racing line with old, dirty tyres."

"I had a bad angle for the tight chicane and my car wasn’t really competitive at that point in time,” said the Swiss who couldn’t forbear taking a dig in the direction of Glock.

“I previously made the same manoeuvre with Robert Wickens and he passed me on the outside. No problem. I expected Timo to make the same move. But he didn’t. Timo just crashed into my car although there was room for two or three cars on the right. The collision could have been avoided. After all, he didn’t hit me when I braked but several metres later. He was just too optimistic and saw red – slightly.”

Müller also was accused by Glock to have cleared the way for Ekström in the Sunday races at Moscow and Zandvoort.

Another accusation the Swiss can’t comprehend. At Moscow, Müller pitted with just three more laps to go and slowed down the field. Ekström finished second behind Mercedes-AMG’s Maro Engel. “These races differ a lot. Discussing the situation at Moscow isn’t necessary."

"In that round, the entire race was jumbled by the safety car. I just was one of those who had not yet pitted and tried to make the best of the situation."

"Therefore, we opted for changing our strategy. And it should be clear that I won’t let pass a driver on a fresh set of tyres.” The safety-car period was caused by Maxime Martin who had to stop his car on lap five.”

 

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With the penultimate race weekend of the season at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, the battle for the DTM title is entering its decisive stage.

In the first encounter on Friday afternoon, the drivers from Audi and Mercedes-AMG ended up in the top positions. Audi’s Jamie Green topped the time sheets with the fastest time of 1m23.267s. “That was a good start into the race weekend,” British driver Green was happy after the 30 minutes’ session.

“This was a perfectly normal Friday. We did long runs to get into the rhythm and we tried to find a set-up for the race.”

With his Mercedes-AMG, local hero Lucas Auer was only 24 hundredths of a second slower with a time of 1m23.291s. “First of all, we have to analyse free practice. Here at the Red Bull Ring, the lap times are always very closely together. Everyone is looking for the perfect balance. Tomorrow is when the cards will be put on the table,” the runner-up from the drivers’ standings says.

René Rast (Audi/1m23.352s), Nico Müller (Audi/1m23.387s) and Gary Paffett (Mercedes-AMG/1m23.485s) rounded out the top five of the classification. With a personal best time of 1m23.768s, Maxime Martin ended up ninth as the best-placed BMW driver. Audi’s Mike Rockenfeller had bad luck as he had to park his car in the pits due to a gearbox problem after only one lap.

For the 18 DTM drivers, action starts in earnest on Saturday at 11.40 hrs. In the weekend’s first qualifying session, the starting grid positions for the 15th race of the season will be determined. The race starts at 14.45 hrs.

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With a forward-looking agreement, the three manufacturers involved in the touring-car series DTM have cleared the way to abolish the highly controversial performance weights.

Together with DTM promoter and rights holder ITR, Audi, BMW and Mercedes amicably agreed upon completely abolishing the performance-dependent handicap weights with immediate effect.

Subject to agreement by the DMSB (German Motor Sport Association), all the racing cars will contest the two remaining race meetings at the Red Bull Ring (22nd to 24th September) and Hockenheim (13th to 15th October) with identical weights while no performance weights according to the achievements of a manufacturer in the previous races will be assigned.

“All those involved listened to the fans. I am really delighted about the fact that the manufacturers act in consent and for the benefit of the series,” said ITR Chairman Gerhard Berger and added: “That’s a strong signal for DTM. We will submit a proposal at DMSB before long. And as DMSB already indicated that they will support a proposal unanimously submitted by ITR and the manufacturer I expect the approval of the association.”

The abolition of the handicap weights is supposed to also be in force in the seasons beyond 2017. In addition, the manufacturers agreed upon optimising the aerodynamics for 2018. As a reult, standardised geometries are supposed to be stipulated for selected aero components.

Audi Motor Sport Director Dieter Gass:”I’m happy that the performance-weight discussion finally is no longer an issue and that the racing again will be given priority. There still are four races to be contested and every manufacturer is represented by at least one driver in the top four. The battle for the title still is wide open and will remain thrilling up to the final race.”

BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt: “This is a good day for DTM, its fans and real motor racing. Today, everybody is a winner. In the past weeks, we and all the parties involved have intensely been looking for a solution and found it with a consensus. For the coming months we will build on that to make DTM fit for the future. This platform will be made even more attractive – and it’s open for other manufacturers.”

Mercedes-AMG Motorsport’s DTM Team Principal Ulrich Fritz: “We are really delighted with finally having found a solution and with the way for abolishing the performance weight having been cleared. With this decision, DTM fulfils the wishes of fans and drivers. I’m convinced that we are about to witness a hot battle for the title. A battle we look forward to and even more so as the discussions about the performance weights finally is over and the sport is back in the spotlight.”

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