• Robin Frijns second in Sunday’s race ahead of championship leader Nico Müller • Audi in second, third, fourth and fifth • Tire strategy and race interruption were decisive factors
After the five-fold victory on Saturday, Audi also achieved a strong result in Sunday’s DTM race in Assen with second, third, fourth and fifth places. Robin Frijns and Nico Müller handed Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline a double podium.
Heavy rain showers caused difficult conditions on Sunday. For Robin Frijns, there was the first surprise as early as on the starting grid: His partner Maike Frik, who is responsible for organization in Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline, stood in front of his blue Audi RS 5 DTM as a “grid girl”. “Last year, she made the promise to do this for me when I take my first victory in the DTM,” said Frijns. “Respect that she not only remembered it, but also pulled it off in these weather conditions.”
Frijns did not disappoint his partner afterwards. On lap eleven, he overtook Audi Sport Team Phoenix’s Loïc Duval, who had been leading up to that point, and then continued to pull away from his pursuers. The Dutchman pitted for tires with a lead of almost ten seconds. “I was quite surprised that I was only second after the pit stop and suddenly had to fight with Sheldon van der Linde (BMW driver).”
The South African had pitted very early for a tire change, exactly the right strategy on the wet track. A red flag shortly before the end of the race also played into van der Linde’s hands: The BMW driver was able to change tires during the break and defended his lead after the restart.
“After the red flag, the conditions were very dangerous,” said Robin Frijns. “There was an extreme amount of water on the track. It would have been stupid to risk too much and throw away second place. With my victory yesterday and second today, I managed to have a great weekend in front of my home crowd.”
Frijns collected the most points at Assen and is now only 26 points behind teammate Nico Müller in the drivers’ championship. The Swiss experienced a déjà-vu of the previous day on Sunday. “After a good start, I was stuck behind Loïc and Robin,” said Müller. “It was annoying that I again lost several places on the first lap. The poor visibility in the rain made it very difficult to catch up. Nevertheless, I managed to work my way up to second behind Robin. BMW managed a pretty smart move with the early pit stop for Sheldon. The red flag of course helped them even more. Third place is a good result, but we didn’t get the maximum here. The hunger for victory is definitely getting bigger again.”
Loïc Duval had to settle for fourth place after his initial lead. “We have to find out why we couldn’t maintain the pace from the first laps, otherwise I would have won easily today,” said the Frenchman. “When my team gave me rain tires again at the pit stop, I thought it was a mistake at first, but it was just right, because it started to rain again.” Teammate Mike Rockenfeller, on the other hand, got slicks and had to come to the pits for a second tire change. He just missed the points in eleventh place.
Defending champion René Rast from Audi Sport Team Rosberg secured pole position in a close qualifying session on a dry track on Sunday. “But, the race again didn’t go our way,” said Rast after a hard-fought fifth place. “There were a lot of decisions needing to be made in these conditions. Sometimes we were right, sometimes not. In addition, we had a small technical problem with the car that cost me power. I lost a lot of points to Nico and Robin again, but we will keep on fighting. A lot can still happen this season.” Teammate Jamie Green did not score points in twelfth place after two tire changes.
Ferdinand Habsburg again scored points for the customer team WRT Team Audi Sport in seventh place.
“It was another exciting DTM race,” said Head of Audi Motorsport Dieter Gass. “With the rain at the start, the conditions were very difficult. It was not quite sure whether the track would dry off or if more rain showers would come. There were different sets of information on this. We saw various tire strategies. At the end, an early stop was the lucky strategy today. The race stoppage also played a role, because I think that without the red flag, our drivers would have caught Sheldon in the end, but that’s racing! Second, third, fourth and fifth place is a good overall team performance. Now we are looking forward to the Nürburgring.”
There, a total of four more DTM races are on the agenda over the next two weekends.