René Rast took victory in race one of the DTM at Imola this afternoon after a commanding race which followed on from his domination of qualifying. Nico Müller took P2 but it was Mirko Bortolotti who utilised a late pit stop to leap up the order following a post qualifying penalty.
Rast driving the #33 Team Abt Audi R8 held the lead into Tamburello despite a strong challenge from Nico Müller in the #51 Team Rosberg Audi who started in P2. Behind them the pack behaved itself through the first two tight chicanes. At the end of the first lap it was just the #55 Ceccato Racing BMW of Timo Glock which limped into the pits with rear damage. The 5 times DTM race winner was forced to retire with suspension damage and was clear with his displeasure towards Mikael Grenier who he claimed hit him at least 15 times on the opening lap.
At the pit stop window Rast and the #24 KÜS Team Bernhard Porsche of Thomas Preining stopped immediately from first and third respectively leaving Nico Müller to hold the lead ahead of Clemens Schmid and Kelvin van der Linde. Müller and Schmid stopped on the next lap meaning all the leaders would be managing their tyres for a long second stint where they would be dealing with a track temperature of 49.5 C.
At his stop, Van der Linde’s ABT Sportsline team managed to turn around the Audi to get the South African out in front of Preining giving him a net third place, but with warmer tyres Preining fought hard to regain the place and with two wheels on the grass he was back to P3 at Tosa.
Having picked up a post qualifying penalty for use of incorrect tyres, Mirko Bortolotti driving the #63 GRT Lamborghini found himself starting the race from P16 as opposed to his original P6. Waiting until the very last moment to pit, Bortolotti returned to the race in P8 and with fresher tyres to enable him to attack the leaders in the final 15 minutes.
Bortolotti made his intentions clear having past Marco Wittmann to take P6 and claiming the fastest lap with a time of 1.40.957 he chased down Clemens Schmid driving the #85 GRT Grasser-Racing.com Lamborghini in P5. Schmid was leap frogged within a couple of laps and with 8 minutes remaining Bortolotti was off after Kelvin van der Linde 4 seconds further up the road.
Van der Linde was cleared with under 4 minutes remaining and it only took a single lap for Bortolotti to pass Thomas Preining to get himself into the podium places. It was a strong defence from Preining but with tyres substantially older than those on the chasing Lamborghini it was only a matter of time. On the exit of Tosa the two made small contact as Preining attempted to give the KÜS Team Bernhard their first podium but Bortolotti had the inside line into Piratella to take P3 from a P16 start.
At the front René Rast was comfortable with a 4.5 second lead over second placed Nico Müller who himself may have been looking over his shoulder to the charging Bortolotti but the defence by Preining meant there wouldn’t be enough time to chase down Müller.
The result brought championship leader Sheldon van der Linde into the grasp of Bortolotti with the gap between first and second reducing to just 3 points after Van der Linde could only finish in P8.
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