BMW driver Macro Wittmann converted pole position into victory in challenging conditions of the first race of the weekend in Assen.
Wittmann had to fend off former DTM Champion Rene Rast early on before overtaking Nico Muller late on to secure victory.
With the first three laps being completed under the safety car due to heavy rain falling over the circuit, Wittmann led the field away with Rast challenging the two-time Champion around the outside before finally giving in and slotting in behind.
The safety car came out again after just one lap of green flag running after Aston Martin driver Daniel Juncadella pulled off with a mechanical issue.
Juncadella said: “The formation laps were fine; everything was normal and the grip on the track was ok even though there were a lot of wet patches.
“When we did the restart, I went full throttle and the engine was misfiring and there was a strange noise. We still don’t know what happened, but I think one cylinder broke and there was a lot of oil or fuel under the car, so I just decided to stop. At least we have another opportunity tomorrow.”
The restart saw Wittmann lead the pack away again with Rast this time, unable to mount a challenge.
Timo Glock and Nico Muller swapped positions multiple times, but Glock held on to his fifth position. Muller did finally manage to get through on the next lap when Glock locked up and ran wide through the gravel.
Muller then overtook Pietro Fittipaldi to take fourth before going around the outside of Loic Duval to take third.
Rast went for the under-cut which forced Wittmann in on the next lap, but the BMW driver managed to stay ahead.
However, with Wittmann struggling to get heat into his tyres, Rast closed the gap and was back on his bumper. Wittmann made his BMW increasingly wide with Rast again having to settle in behind.
There was heartbreak for Robin Frijns who ran too wide, losing the back end and going backwards into the tyre barrier.
After putting in many consistent laps out in front Muller finally pitted. The gap was big enough for him to still come out ahead of Wittmann and Rast, but his tyres were colder allowing Wittmann to close up the gap before finding extra grip and slipping past.
Wittmann came through to take his third victory of the season.
“Norisring was quite hard for me on home soil, but what a way to come back – with pole position and the race win,” said Wittmann. “Conditions were pretty tricky, first time for us in the wet here at Assen but I think we had pretty good pace. The Audi’s were quite strong in the early stages of the race, but I managed to pull a little gap. To come through and win is great.”
Rast couldn’t get past his fellow Audi driver and had to settle for third place which still keeps him in the Championship lead.
After the race Rast commented: “It’s good points for the Championship, even though it wasn’t the best race we still finished on the podium which is quite good. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Fourth was Philipp Eng, fifth was Glock with Jonathon Aberdein sixth.
Jamie Green was seventh with Duval eighth, Mike Rockenfeller ninth and Sheldon van der Linde tenth after an earlier spin.
Header image from TouringCars.net
By Jordan Hollands.