After finishing third in qualifying, Bruno Spengler got off to a flying start in sunny conditions in Zolder. The BMW driver moved ahead of his brand colleagues, pole-setter Marco Wittmann and René Rast (Audi), leading the race comfortably until the 15th lap. Then the safety car appeared after technical problems saw two cars come to a standstill alongside the track, heralding the rise of Philipp Eng (BMW).
On the 12th lap, the Austrian driver had already made his mandatory pit stop from fifth place to claim his new set of Hankook race tyres. He benefited as the safety car phase negated the advantage built up by the leading trio, who then fell back through the field after their mandatory pit stops. There was then no stopping the 28-year-old, who overtook the DTM drivers Nico Müller (Audi) and Joel Eriksson (BMW) ahead of him to move into first place on lap 28. He then proceeded to extend his lead to over eight seconds by the time he crossed the line. Behind Joel Eriksson and Nico Müller, Loic Duval (Audi) claimed fourth place, while newcomer Ferdinand Habsburg (Aston Martin) finished ninth to score his first DTM points.
An energetic performance saw Marco Wittmann secure seventh place, defending his lead in the overall standings and staying ahead of Philipp Eng, who moves up to second. Bruno Spengler held the lead for some time and finished tenth to score one point. René Rast (Audi) retired on lap 28 with technical problems. Manfred Sandbichler, Hankook Motorsport Director Europe: “For Philipp, it was just a question of time until he won his first DTM race. Of course, he did benefit a bit from the safety car but he was already in a promising fifth place and he was rewarded for the bold choice to make an early pit stop. After cool weather during qualifying, we had plenty of sunshine and much higher temperatures for the race. We saw that the intended drop-off effect for the Hankook race tyre came into play much later, and with less emphasis, due to the safety car phase, but we had expected earlier and increased tyre wear. Once again, this showed that tyre management is an important key to success in the DTM.”
Philipp Eng (BMW): “I am the happiest person on the planet. I had always dreamed of this win but it feels even better in reality. Of course, I had a bit of luck with the safety car phase but that is part of motor racing. My second stint was very long, lasting over 35 minutes, but the Hankook race tyres lasted very well until the finish.”
Joel Eriksson (BMW): “We really tested the Hankook race tyre today. I was one of the first in the pits and then drove 31 laps with a single set of tyres. That worked out very well, the Hankook tyre did great and I am very happy with my second place.”
Nico Müller (Audi): “That was a journey into the unknown today, as the wet and cold conditions meant that we did not do any long runs during the practice session. So, it was difficult to estimate how the Hankook tyre would do over the whole race. As expected, there was a bit of wear and the tyres worked very well over the whole distance. Towards the end, I was able to put a bit of pressure on Joel but he did a great job with his older tyres and I just couldn’t overtake him.”
Ferdinand Habsburg (Aston Martin): “I drove right over a chunk of carbon on turn two and thought I had wrecked my tyres. But the Hankook race tyres held out and were great for the whole race. And I know what I am talking about, as I have been driving with Hankook tyres for years. We also had a great car set-up and our strategy of driving a longer second stint was a great success, thanks to the Hankook tyre.”