After yesterday’s race win for BMW Team RBM with Philipp Eng, it’s time for another celebration as rookie Sheldon van der Linde takes pole in only his second DTM race weekend. He claimed his maiden pole after a short red-flag period.
The 20-year old South Africa set the fastest time in the first half of the session – a 1m21.590s. As it turned out, this time would remain unbeaten. Just after setting this fastest lap, he almost ended up in the gravel as he took too much speed going in to turn 4. Though he rejoined the track without problems.
‘I’ve been dreaming about this since I was very young. Being in the DTM was already great – but the first pole is just amazing!’, van der Linde said after he climbed out of his car.
Around halftime, most drivers came back to their garage’s to prepare for another stint. Rene Rast was among the first ones to go out again with just a little under ten minutes to go. At this point, he had the second-best time. Followed by yesterday’s race winner Eng, Robin Frijns and Timo Glock.
With 3m30s to go in the session, we had a yellow flag. Followed by a red flag caused by R-Motorsport Aston Martin driver Paul di Resta, who was stuck without power. The session resumed a few minutes later, which meant lots of cars on track for the final three minutes of running. An exception from the pack was Rast – who decided to not do another run as the track probably wouldn’t improve. His best time at that point was a 1m21.596s – 0.006s slower than van der Linde’s provisional pole time. He was right and will start the second race in Zolder from the first row on the grid alongside the BMW driver. Philipp Eng will start in third.
Audi’s Robin Frijns – who sees this as his home race as he lives only 20 minutes from the track – will start this afternoon’s race from fourth. A positive outcome after finishing yesterday’s first race outside the points in twelfth. The third row on the grid is for BMW’s Timo Glock and Audi’s Mike Rockenfeller. A far better result than yesterday’s qualifying disaster for Rockenfeller, who struggled with his car and due to changes to his car had to start from the back of the grid.
Rounding out the top-ten are Marco Wittmann – who took pole position yesterday, WRT’s Jonathan Aberdein, Audi’s Jamie Green and BMW’s Joel Eriksson. Again, all Aston Martin drivers outside the first ten positions. Best placed for the British manufacturer is Jake Dennis in 13th. Daniel Juncadella, Ferdinand Habsburg and Paul di Resta round out the grid in the last three places.
Van der Linde is the youngest pole-sitter in BMW’s DTM history – an extraordinary achievement for the rookie. The second and final race of this weekend will start later this afternoon at 13:30 local time (12:30 UK time).