It was a typical ‘Brands Hatch script’ the one that WRT Team Audi Sport had to withstand in the sixth DTM round of the season. The great hopes of the Belgian squad were dashed in Qualifying 1 when both its Audi RS 5 DTM crashed on the damp track. Only Jonathan Aberdein could take the start of Race 1, in last row, finishing an excellent 9th.

Race 2 was also packed with events, but Pietro Fittipaldi posted the fastest lap, and Aberdein was in the front-running group before a spin in the final laps barred him from the top-10, proving thus the Belgian squad is raising its game in its debut season in the DTM…

The weekend started well, with both cars in the top-10 in the sole free practice session on Saturday morning, with Aberdein 7thand Fittipaldi 10th. Unfortunately, qualifying turned out into a nightmare after only a couple of laps. On a drying track after the morning rain, most drivers opted for slicks and so did also Pietro and Jonathan. Unluckily, the Brazilian went off at relatively high speed at Clearways hitting hard the barriers with the rear and the left side. Only a few seconds later, the South African went through an identical misfortune, only a few meters past Fittipaldi’s impact, going straight into the tire walls, although with less violence.

The double set-back resulted in severe damage to both cars, with the one of Fittipaldi impossible to repair for Race 1. Aberdein’s car made it to the grid last minute, in last position. Still, the South African managed to pass four cars at the start and in first lap, stabilizing in P12. A very early pit stop, in lap 6, put him in P15, from where he started to climb positions. In the final phases, he was fighting in the top-10, eventually taking a final P9, excellent under the circumstances.

On Sunday, Qualifying 2 was luckily much quieter, with both drivers doing well and taking the fourth row. Fittipaldi qualified 7th, after the WRT Team Audi Sport crews worked into early morning to rebuild his car, right ahead Aberdein, the two team mates being separated by only … 0s001!

At the start of Race 2, Fittipaldi had a somehow difficult kick-off (and then also a contact during first lap), while Aberdein maintained his 8thposition. Both were on an early pit stop strategy, with Jonathan stopping in lap 11 and Pietro one lap later. By lap 23, they were running in P11 and P16, respectively, before the Brazilian had a slight off-track at Paddock Hill, pitting again for new tires one lap later, not improving his final position but signing the fastest lap in the race. Aberdein, on his side, climbed up to 7th in the final phase, only 5 seconds behind the leader, but unfortunately, he could not avoid a spin at Surtees bend four laps to the end, dropping to P13.

Vincent Vosse: “What a crazy weekend! We lived everything we could possibly live… The first thing I want to say is that the team has done a tremendous job to rebuild the cars, especially Pietro’s, working all night. It’s tough to lose both cars in Q1 that way, but the guys did a fantastic job to put the situation straight again. It’s a pity that they were not rewarded properly by the results, but there is a lot of positive too: the pace was there, we were quick, Pietro signed the fastest race lap on Sunday and we have never been as close to the top in the closing lap as Jonathan was before his spin. We continue learning and we will try to do better next time.”

Jonathan Aberdein: “Overall, a very frustrating weekend. We definitely had the speed to be somewhere at the front but we couldn’t really put everything together. Just mistakes from myself and some strategy errors prevented to do so. On the positive side, we were among the quickest cars on track, so we definitely have something to look forward to in the next races.”

Pietro Fittipaldi: “First of all, a very big thanks to the team for getting the car back together after the qualifying shunt. I qualified 7th on Sunday, so obviously the car was perfect, and credit for that goes to the guys. Unfortunately, in the race, I got stuck behind some cars after the pit stop, and when I saw a yellow, I took the risk to pit again for fresh tires, but it was a wrong call, my fault”.

DTM – Round 6
Brands Hatch, United Kingdom, 10-11 August 2019

Race 1 Result
1. Marco Wittmann (BMW) 42 laps

2. René Rast (Audi) + 0s374

3. Nico Müller (Audi) + 8s566
4. Robin Frijns (Audi) +15s646
5. Loïc Duval (Audi) +18s236
9. Jonathan Aberdein (Audi) +37s087
DNS Pietro Fittipaldi (Audi)

Race 2 Result
1. René Rast (Audi) 42 laps

2. Nico Müller (Audi) + 0s240
3. Robin Frijns (Audi) + 0s598
4. Loïc Duval (Audi) + 2s362

5. Philipp Eng (BMW) + 2s889

13. Jonathan Aberdein (Audi) +27s882
16. Pietro Fittipaldi (Audi) +55s065

PHOTO: Audi Sport