Marco Wittman took another win in DTM for Walkenhorst Motorsport despite a 5-second penalty whilst Mirko Bortolotti took second in his championship debut.
Championship leader Kelvin van der Linde was odds on to extend his championship lead but a safety car before he’d taken his mandatory pit stop ended his race hopes.
At the start Liam Lawson led away cleanly from the start whilst behind him chaos reigned as the pack concertinaed together leaving the Mercedes-AMGs of Arjun Maini and Vincent Abril limping back to the pits for repairs and the GruppeM Racing Mercedes-AMG of Daniel Juncadella stranded at the pitlane exit.
Lawson and Wittman were slow away which caught out some of the pack who could see the green lights from mid pack and floored the throttle accordingly.
Maxi Götz was able to jink around Wittman and by the end of the straight was going into the first corner three abreast with Wittman and Bortolotti.
By the end of the lap Bortolotti had burst through the chaos to take second behind Lawson but his charge was halted by a safety car to clear up the debris on the start/finish straight.
At the restart Lawson and Bortolotti got away well whilst Götz and Wittman battled for third behind them. Championship leader Kelvin van der Linde was another winner who leapt from eight place on the grid to fifth in the race.
At the front Bortolotti was all over Lawson and took the lead from the Kiwi on lap 6 who was also carrying an extra 25 kilos of success ballast. With Bortolotti not racing for points, Lawson was happy not to fight him too hard and with his weight advantage the Italian was able to pull away from the leading pack.
Lawson pitted on lap 8 but upon re-entering the track lost his position to Götz who pitted a lap earlier and charged around on his outlap to take a 1-second advantage over Lawson.
Bortolotti pitted on lap 9 and again pulled out behind Götz and only just in front of Lawson.
Championship leader Van der Linde stayed out the longest making the most of his tyres but his gamble was ruined when a second safety car was deployed to clear up some debris on track. The rules meant that he couldn’t take his mandatory stop during the safety car period and the 27 second lead he’d built up over the early stoppers was wiped away.
At the restart Van der Linde got away well with teammate Mike Rockenfeller dropping in behind him to act as rear gunner to the chasing pack headed up by championship rival and net leader, Götz.
Wittman wasn’t settling for third though and fought his way to the front first diving up the inside of Lawson giving the the Kiwi a small nudge that put him off the track. Two laps later net leader Götz left the door open enough for Wittman to make a move and take the lead. Götz then immediately lost second to Lawson who didn’t need a second invitation to squeeze past the German.
The stewards however were unimpressed with Wittman’s move on Lawson and issued a 5-second penalty for the contact. This added extra urgency to the German who until now had been sat under the wing of Rockenfeller whose Audi had been doing a stirling job holding up the pack allowing his Team ABT Sportsline team mate to make up a 7-second lead.
Up to this point Wittman would still be looking at the victory as the two Audis ahead still had to pit. Now with a time penalty potentially dropping Wittman to eleventh or worse the German had to get past his countryman and make up the lost time. Muscling through a lap later, with marginally less contact than he had with Lawson, he was past and away down the road.
Wittman was soon 5 seconds ahead of Rockenfeller nullifying his time penalty and handing him the victory again. Lawson had to clear the ever stubborn Rockenfeller whilst keeping an eye on Bortolotti who also was looking at taking the race victory.
At the front Van der Linde couldn’t get any further ahead and with 3 laps remaining had to take his stop re-emerging onto track in a disappointing thirteenth. At the same time Bortolotti made his move on Lawson and took second but with Wittman 8 seconds up the road the win went his way.
The result drops Kelvin van der Linde down to third in the championship with Lawson taking over at the top and Wittman 8 points behind him.
Race 2 is on Sunday starting at 13:30 CET.
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