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In second free practice early Saturday morning, Mercedes-AMG driver Lucas Auer posted the fastest lap time of the weekend so far. The runner-up in the DTM drivers’ standings completed his lap of the 2.3 kilometres long Norisring street circuit in 47.814 seconds.

Points’ leader René Rast followed in second place with his Audi, having set a time of 47.957 seconds. With Gary Paffett (48.006 seconds), another Mercedes-AMG driver followed in third from Audi drivers Mike Rockenfeller (48.009 seconds) and Nico Müller (48.089 seconds). 

In first free practice on the day before, three BMW drivers ranked among the top four, but this time, only Bruno Spengler (48.090 seconds) as the fastest driver from yesterday made it into the top ten, he ended up sixth. Once again, the field was very closely matched. Classified last, Maxime Martin (BMW) had a time of 46.601 seconds, only 787 thousandths of a second down on the fastest time.

“Generally, I am happy with P2. We have an upward learning curve. Compared to yesterday, we have made some changes to the set up and it worked out better straight away. However, it is only a trend, it doesn’t say too much. It is more important to be up front after qualifying,” René Rast commented.

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A rookie rocks the DTM. In front of 39,500 spectators at the Hungaroring on Sunday, René Rast claimed his maiden win from fellow Audi driver Mattias Ekstrom and BMW’s Maxime Martin in what was only his ninth race in the ‘Champions League of touring car racing’.

In fourth and fifth place respectively, Nico Muller and Jamie Green rounded out the very good result for Audi. In the morning, Rast had already secured pole position in Hungary. With a total of 70 points and one point clear of Mercedes-AMG driver Lucas Auer, the driver from Minden took the lead in the DTM drivers’ standings. Next up are Green (65) and Ekstrom (62).

“I can’t really find words to describe my feelings. I have been waiting for this moment all my career. Crossing the finish line in first place in the DTM is one of the best feelings I have ever had in motorsport. The points’ lead is the icing on the cake. In the past weeks, we have been working hard to improve. Today is a nice reward for that,” a buoyant Rast said.

On the day before, Mercedes-AMG driver Paul Di Resta and the two BMW drivers Timo Glock and Bruno Spengler were the only ones to benefit from an early safety car intervention and the pit stop they had completed just before that and all made it onto the podium.

On Sunday, all manufacturers showed that they had learned from that. Twelve laps into the race, all 18 drivers bar Mercedes-AMG’s Maro Engel, who followed on lap 17, already had completed their stops. There was bad luck for Mike Rockenfeller, whose Audi had to turn into the pits because of a disfunctioning brake line just before the start. ‘Rocky’, who was fifth after qualifying, joined the field from the pitlane to start the race. At least, he still managed to score one point by finishing tenth.

Thus, the order in front with 25 minutes to go was Mattias Ekström from Rast and BMW driver Maxime Martin, who had already come into the pits on lap one. Further down the ranks, there weren’t any position changes either for a long time, until Audi driver Jamie Green first overtook yesterday’s race winner Paul Di Resta for sixth on lap 27 and defending champion Marco Wittmann (BMW) for fifth two laps later.

Soon after that, last year’s champion had to retire with two laps remaining. On lap 31, Rast overtook Ekstrom for the lead. “I knew that Mattias had stopped early and had done a few laps more with his tyres. I followed him for a while, until I saw that he was sliding more than usual in the corners and then I activated my DRS and attacked him,” Rast explained. He had come in for a tyre change on lap eleven, eight laps after the Swede.

All in all, Mattias Ekström was very happy with his weekend: “Having lost ground to Nico and René at the start, I reckoned that stopping early would be my only chance. After I rejoined the race, I had a clear track and I was able to drive as fast as I could. Towards the end, however, I started sliding more and more."

"Defending my podium position was important, so I didn’t attack all out anymore. A pair of third places in qualifying, one fifth and one second place in the races. I was able to score some points here.” Now, however, the Swede is facing a tough challenge away from the race track. The next DTM round at the Norisring, from 30 June till 2 July, clashes with his home round of the world rallycross championship round in the Höljes Motorstadion. In both championship standings, ‘Eki’ is eight poins down on the leaders, with good perspectives.

“I am somebody who is happy to make decisions, but I am glad that this decision isn’t mine to make. No matter how you decide, there will always be people saying: ‘Just how could you decide like that?’ Dieter Gass really has a nice job,” Ekström said with irony towards his boss.

Classified third, Maxime Martin was also happy after his progress from 18th place on the grid. “I hadn’t expected that. I had opted for an aggressive strategy to see where I would end up. I wasn’t too far away from the duo at the front. Yesterday, I had some technical problems. When you are last after qualifying and then finish on the podium, the weekend wasn’t one to forget after all,” the Belgian said. 

Lucas Auer, on the other hand, had a horrendous day. The Austrian started sixth, locked up under braking during his pit stop on lap six and almost ran over the foot of one of his mechanics in the process. He parked his car at such an angle that the mechanics were hardly able to reach the right rear wheel with the airgun, which cost the former points’ leader a lot of time.

After 23 laps, ‘Luggi’ had to park his Mercedes-AMG in the pits with a technical problem. “I had some slight problems to begin with that finally got worse, which is why I parked up, to be on the safe side. I couldn't continue any further."

"Too bad, because, going by the qualifyings yesterday and today, it looked like I might be able to at least grab a few points."

"I locked up a little when pitting, but that's just how it goes sometimes in motor racing. We've still got another six race weekends, so there's still everything to play for,“ Auer said. Paul Di Resta was the best-placed Mercedes-AMG driver in sixth place in race two.

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BMW claimed the first fastest time of the DTM weekend at the Norisring. Bruno Spengler completed his fastest lap of the 2.3 kilometres long street circuit in Nuremberg in 47.971 seconds and thus was 0.077 seconds faster than Mattias Ekström with his Audi RS 5 DTM. With Tom Blomqvist and Timo Glock, third and fourth place were also in the hands of the Munich-based brand.

“The weather was good, so was my Audi. There isn’t much to report,” was Ekström’s brief comment. “We did some fine tuning for tomorrow, because that is when it matters.”

A lap in the city at an average speed of 172.6 km/h – things are a little bit different at the only street circuit on the DTM calendar. Because of the short track, the times of the DTM drivers are even more closely matched than at a Grand Prix circuit. All 18 drivers posted lap times within 0.842 seconds. That is promising for the two races, the seventh race of the season on Sunday at 13.28 hrs and the eighth one day later at 17.23 hrs.

Behind Swiss driver Nico Müller in fifth place, Gary Paffett was the best driver with a Mercedes-AMG C 63 DTM in sixth place. His fellow Mercedes driver Robert Wickens was seventh at the end of the 30 minutes’ session. Augusto Farfus, Maxime Martin (both BMW) and Mike Rockenfeller (Audi) rounded out the top ten.

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After his maiden DTM pole position on the previous day, Rene Rast again was the benchmark on Sunday as the fastest of all 18 DTM drivers.

With his Audi RS 5 DTM, he posted the fastest time of 1m34.740s in qualifying and thus secured his second pole position in the DTM. Marco Wittmann was only 0.063 seconds slower with his BMW M4 DTM, breaking Audi’s phalanx of drivers by ending up second.

Four drivers with the four rings followed in the next positions: Mattias Ekstrom, Nico Muller, Mike Rockenfeller and Jamie Green were classified in third to sixth place. 

Lucas Auer was the fastest driver with a Mercedes-AMG C 63 DTM in seventh place. In a closed performance, Timo Glock, Augusto Farfus and Tom Blomqvist took eighth to tenth place in the BMW colours.

How close it was in qualifying at the 4.381 kilometres long Hungaroring becomes clear when looking at the times: 17 drivers posted lap times within one second.

That promises excitement for the sixth race of the season that will start at 15.18 hrs. German TV channel ARD will be broadcasting the race live from the Hungaroring from 15.00 hrs onwards.