Rene Rast keeps title hopes alive with fifth-straight win
Rene Rast's incredible comeback continued on Saturday at Hockenheim, ensuring the title battle will go down to Sunday's final race of the 2018 DTM season.
Rast took his fifth consecutive victory to make history yet again as he championship leader Gary Paffett duelled it out for the win before a Safety Car saw Paffett drop down the order to finish only fourth, but crucially ahead of his closest title rival Paul di Resta.
Pole sitter Lucas Auer dropped down to second at the start with Paffett getting a better start to take the lead into Turn 8. Rast meanwhile dropped back to fourth before recovering to third behind Auer as he quickly dispatched the BMW of Augusto Farfus.
Auer was next on the list and Rast made short work of the Mercedes driver to slot into second behind Paffett. The pair pulled away from the chasing pack and it looked set to become a two-horse race to the chequered flag.
During the pitstop phase it was Rast that came in first on Lap 14, but the undercut failed to work as Paffett resumed in the lead after his stop for fresh tyres, but the German stayed close to the Britain and made his move a lap later to take over the lead.
Paffett kept the pressure high but couldn't make any of his repeated attempts to pass stick until Lap 23 when it finally paid off and he reclaimed the lead. It didn't last long however. Rast was quickly back past, but not without making brief contact with his rival under breaking for Turn 8.
Their thrilling duel finally came to an end when Farfus' door fell off of his car and forced a Safety Car period.
Door recovered and Safety Car in, the race resumed with Rast getting the perfect start to keep the lead, unlike Paffett who fell into the claws of Timo Glock and Robin Frijns, both of which jumped the Mercedes before later swapping positions which saw Glock take the final podium spot behind Frijns and winner Rast.
Paffett still took the championship lead from di Resta with his fourth place as the Scot could only muster eighth place after he lost out to the charging Audis of Loic Duval, Mike Rockenfeller and Nico Muller late on.
Paffett holds a nine-point lead over di Resta, with Rast only 15 adrift in what will certainly be a thrilling finale.
The race saw three retirements in Farfus, Wittmann – who went off during the restart – and Auer who also retired with a mechanical problem.