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Rachit Thukral

Spa DTM: Rast claims last-gasp pole in drying qualifying

With the track still damp after overnight showers, the entire field initially headed out on wet tyres for their first runs in the 20-minute pole shootout.

It was the Red Bull Ferrari of Nick Cassidy that set the early pace, leading the Porsche of Saturday race winner Dennis Olsen with a time of 2m28.459s.

Going into the second half of the session, the track had dried out sufficiently for some drivers to gamble on slick rubber, with reigning champion Maximilian Gotz the first to make the switch in his Winward Mercedes.

The Abt Audi of last year’s GT Masters champion Ricardo Feller followed suit and went more than a second quicker than Cassidy’s benchmark with a 2m27.190s, making it clear that slicks were now the tyres to be on.

As the track continued to dry out, a flurry of quick laps followed, with a new driver moving to the top spot every 30 seconds.

It soon turned into a race of who could be the last to cross the finish line, and three-time champion Rast timed his run perfectly, posting a rapid time of 2m23.424s at the death of the session to seal pole position.

The Abt Audi driver ended up just 0.044s up on the Schubert BMW of van der Linde, who had looked set for his third pole position of the year until Rast overhauled him with a late flier.

Behind the two championship contenders, Cassidy secured his best qualifying finish in DTM with a time of 2m23.476s in his AF Corse Ferrari, just 0.052s shy off the top spot.

GruppeM driver Mikael Greinier was Mercedes’ top qualifier in fourth, ahead of teammate Maro Engel and fellow AMG GT3 driver Gotz, while Feller had to settle for seventh despite his early heroics on slick tyres.

Thomas Preining put his Team Bernhard 75 Porsche up to eighth, while Grasser’s Clemens Schmid was the only Lamborghini driver inside the top 10 in ninth.

10th place went to the Winward Mercedes of Lucas Auer, who retired from Saturday’s race while running in second, as Kelvin van der Linde (Abt Audi) and Felipe Fraga (Red Bull Ferrari) qualified right behind him in 11th and 12th respectively.

Mirko Bortolotti’s title hopes took another blow as he struggled to 22nd in qualifying in his Grasser Lamborghini with a time that was nearly 3s off his title rivals Rast and Sheldon van der Linde, who locked out the front row.

Spa DTM - Qualifying results:

 Cla   Nº   Driver   Car / Engine   Time  Gap
33  Rene Rast Audi 2'23.424  
31  Sheldon van der Linde BMW 2'23.468 0.044
37  Nick Cassidy Ferrari 2'23.476 0.052
55  Mikaël Grenier Mercedes 2'23.703 0.279
88  Maro Engel Mercedes 2'23.966 0.542
Maximilian Gotz Mercedes 2'24.041 0.617
Ricardo Feller Audi 2'24.163 0.739
24  Thomas Preining Porsche 2'24.246 0.822
85  Clemens Schmid Lamborghini 2'24.556 1.132
10  22  Lucas Auer Mercedes 2'24.593 1.169
11  Kelvin van der Linde Audi 2'24.604 1.180
12  74  Felipe Fraga Ferrari 2'24.940 1.516
13  11  Marco Wittmann BMW 2'24.940 1.516
14  25  Philipp Eng BMW 2'24.994 1.570
15  Luca Stolz Mercedes 2'25.113 1.689
16  66  Marius Zug Audi 2'25.258 1.834
17  51  Nico Müller Audi 2'25.347 1.923
18  36  Arjun Maini Mercedes 2'25.453 2.029
19  18  Maximilian Buhk Mercedes 2'25.741 2.317
20  92  Laurens Vanthoor Porsche 2'25.892 2.468
21  10  Esteban Muth BMW 2'26.196 2.772
22  63  Mirko Bortolotti Lamborghini 2'26.237 2.813
23  94  Dennis Olsen Porsche 2'26.385 2.961
24  12  Dev Gore Audi 2'27.552 4.128
25  27  David Schumacher Mercedes 2'27.650 4.226
26  19  Rolf Ineichen Lamborghini 2'29.256 5.832
27  Alessio Deledda Lamborghini 2'32.494 9.070
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