DTM: Kelvin van der Linde celebrates first DTM win on 25th birthday

Feature Image Credit: DTM Facebook

After Saturday’s debut with DTM’s new format with GT3 cars, Sunday was an even better day. Man of the day was Kelvin van der Linde, who scored his maiden DTM pole position and later a victory on his birthday. Race 1 winner Liam Lawson was unlucky after a spin.

GT3 star Kelvin van der Linde ended Sunday morning in a good mood. The South African scored his maiden DTM pole position with a time of 1:46.604, set on his first run. Therefore, he beat Saturday’s race winner Liam Lawson, who only could set a competetive laptime in the final minutes of the session. The gap between the pair was only 0.078. This despite Lawson carrying a lot of extra weight as a result of his race win the day before. The second van der Linde brother, Sheldon, put his ROWE Racing BMW third on the grid. Nico Mueller, driving for Team Rosberg in his Audi R8 LMS, was fourth on the grid ahead of rookie Esteban Muth in the Lamborghini Huracan.

Then, moving on to the race. DTM’s new era with GT3 rules also means no more standing starts but rolling starts. Kelvin van der Linde placed his foot down and kept the lead going into the first chicane Turn 1. He left the battle for second to the others, allowing himself to create a little gap early on already. On the second lap of the race, three and sometimes four cars battled it out for second place. Mueller, Lawson, Sheldon van der Linde and Muth. Sometimes even three abreast. By the end of the lap, Sheldon claimed second place with a move into the first Lesmo.

Mueller then managed to overtake Lawson, resulting in the Kiwi having to defend from Muth. A hard but fair battle. Unfortunately, his battle resulted in Lawson being spun around after a slight touch with Muth in his Lamborghini. Lawson resumed his race, but from the back of the grid. While these four drivers battled for second, Kelvin van der Linde could create a gap of five seconds by the end of lap seven. But, as he made his mandatory pitstop quite late compared to all the others, it brought the gap down a little to four seconds. No on could challenge him though, resulting in a first DTM victory for the South African. Even on his 25th birthday!

Image Credit: Kelvin van der Linde Facebook

‘This is a proud moment for me’ van der Linde commented. ‘I have been working hard to get into DTM for such a long time. Now, both my brother Sheldon and myself have scored DTM race wins. Surely, our parents are over the moon.’

Audi scored a 1-2 with Mueller joining van der Linde on the podium. Last year’s runner up made his pitstop on lap 7, trying the undercut with Sheldon van der Linde who made his stop one lap later. It appeared the right decision as the undercut worked. Lucas Auer claimed the final spot on the podium after starting from seventh on the grid. The Austrian took advantage of an early pitstop as soon as it is allowed, at the end of lap five.

Image Credit: DTM Facebook

Sheldon van der Linde finished just outside of the podium, losing one position compared to where he qualified. Though, the South African was able to fend off Marco Wittmann in the final laps of the race despite serious pressure. Philip Ellis finished sixth after battling with Alex Albon. The ex-F1 driver had to start from 12th on the grid. Monza is known for the dificulty to overtake. Though, an exiciting battle between 2013 DTM champion Mike Rockenfeller and rookie Muth made the final laps interesting. A fight between the Abt Audi of Rockenfeller and the Lamborghini of Muth went on for several laps. Rockenfeller was only able to pass Muth around the outside of the second Lesmo on the penultimate lap of the race. Rocky finished eighth ahead of Muth in ninth. Maximilian Gotz completed the top ten.

Just outside of the points finished Vincent Abril, Saturday’s polesitter. Followed by Daniel Juncadella and Maximilian Buhk, all three Mercedes drivers. Lawson, who suffered a spin early on in the race, finished 14th. Sophia Floersch and Esmee Hawkey finished 16th and 17th. Two DNF’s today, Timo Glock and Arjun Maini.

A succesful first race weekend of the new DTM era. The second race weekend is scheduled at the Lausitzring from 23-25 July.

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