It was a successful weekend at the Lausitzring for South African Sheldon van der Linde with a double victory. Even the 25 kilograms of success ballast weren’t able to stop him. Fans enjoyed a weekend full of spectacle with speeds up to 250 km/h through the banked corner.
Lucas Auer, Mercedes Team Winward, took pole position for the first race of the weekend on Saturday. The Austrian, also the Portimao race 1 winner, had the slightest gap to BMW’s Sheldon van der Linde, only 0.025 seconds split the pair. Two more Mercedes drivers were third and fourth, Maro Engel and Luca Stolz. Felipe Fraga managed to qualify fifth in his Red Bull Ferrari.
Then, the start of race one. Van der Linde took a wide line approach into Turn 1, which is banked. With this move, he overtook Auer for the first place. The South African managed to create a little gap over Auer, when the latter decided to pit on lap seven, the first lap when pitting was allowed. Unfortunately, Auer had some issues and lost a bit of time in the pits and re-joined the track behind his Mercedes teammate Stolz. When Van der Linde headed to the pits just one lap later, he remained ahead of both of them.
He kept his head cool and stayed in the lead throughout the race, never really under pressure. It’s Van der Linde’s first victory since Assen 2020. Stolz finished second ahead of Auer. Also, Van der Linde secured the Autohero Fastest Lap Award, adding an additional point to his tally. ‘Last year was very tough for me, I often not even made it to the finish’ the South African said. ‘Winning again now, two years after my maiden DTM race win, is outstanding.’
It was a positive day for Mercedes, with Arjun Maini and Engel finishing fourth and fifth. Crossing the line in sixth was championship leader Mirko Bortolotti. The Italian suffered a bad start which dropped him to 13th. Though, he recovered to sixth, benefitting from other drivers’ failures and DNFs. Two of the unlucky drivers were Audi’s Ricardo Feller and Ferrari’s Felipe Fraga. Both drivers retired due to problems with the rear-right tyre. One of this year’s rookies, Laurens Vanthoor impressed finishing seventh, best of the Porsches. Rene Rast, Nick Cassidy and 2021 champion Maximilian Gotz completed the top ten.
Now, moving on to Sunday. BMW’s Van der Linde once again impressed, securing pole position for the second race of the weekend. The Schubert BMW driver was the only one to post a sub- 1m31s with a 1:30,998. Lining up alongside him was three-time DTM champion Rene Rast, his first front-row start since returning to the series. Mercedes’ Engel started from third ahead of Bortolotti, making it four different manufacturers in the top four. With four minutes remaining in the session, there was a red-flag situation. This is a result of Fraga’s Ferrari that caught fire. He parked his car alongside the track and got out safe.
As if his Saturday win and Sunday pole weren’t enough, Van der Linde made it a perfect weekend with another victory. Meaning he is the first of 2022 to be a double race winner. Even the additional 25 kilograms did not stop the BMW driver. Finishing in second was Mercedes’ Engel ahead of Audi’s Rast. Both Engel and Rast were involved in some early race battles. Especially when battling Bortolotti, briefly going three-wide. The latter, driving the GRT Lamborghini, headed into this weekend as the championship leader but had to settle for sixth on Sunday.
Finishing just outside the points were BMW’s Philipp Eng and Audi’s Nico Mueller. GRT Lamborghini’s Bortolotti had to settle for sixth once again. Feller, who unfortunately did not finish Saturday’s race crossed the line in seventh ahead of Auer. Completing the top ten are Vanthoor and Marco Wittmann, both losing places to Auer after battling each other.
As a result of this, Van der Linde is now the new championship leader with a gap of 15 points to Bortolotti. However, the next round takes place from 17 to 19 June at Imola, Italy, the home ground of Bortolotti.