Lucas Auer won DTM race 2 at TT Circuit Assen having started from pole position and never giving up the lead from the start. 1.8 seconds clear at the end of the first lap, Auer was making a statement of intent from the start and proving his tenth career pole this morning was no fluke.
Former championship leader Kelvin van de Linde was somewhat mugged at the start, initially holding onto the fifth place he fought so hard to gain in the morning’s qualifying session. However, within three corners he was down to eighth with a mountain to climb to keep his championship hopes on track.
At the end of lap five, with a three-second gap to second place, leader Auer was the first to take the mandatory pitstop followed closely by Liam Lawson and Maxi Götz.
Wittman followed on the next lap and a quick 7.6-second stop wasn’t enough to keep his place as Lawson on fully warmed up tyres was able to dive underneath Wittman to take third, having already cleared teammate Alex Albon.
From then on, the order was mostly settled with Daniel Juncadella taking third place and Wittmann and Albon squabbling over fourth. The German was equal to everything that Albon could throw at him and by the mid-point Götz and Bortolotti had caught the pair resulting in a four-way battle for third.
At the front, Kelvin van de Linde was once again playing the long game despite being caught out by safety cars in Saturdays race, the Team ABT Sportline crew were sticking to the same strategy of going long on the first stint.
Eventually, on lap 20 after having shredded his tyres from pushing hard to build up a gap, Van der Linde pitted for an 8-second stop that brought him out marginally infront of third place runner Marco Wittmann. The Walkenhorst BMW had the momentum and tyre temperature to slip underneath Van der Linde in turn three, but with 20 minutes remaining, Wittmann would have to work hard to defend from the Audi.
Van de Linde would also have to defend from Alex Albon who got a little too close into turn 1 and drove into the back of the Audi under braking. Both continued having escaped any serious damage.
With just 2 minutes remaining, there was heartbreak for Juncadella who pulled off the track after a mechanical fault robbed the Spaniard of a sure podium. Meanwhile, Lawson was right on the tail of Auer and in the final laps was pushing the Austrian hard, ready to capitalise from any mistakes, but Auer was content to keep the Kiwi behind him to the flag and take the victory.
Wittmann took third and Van de Linde’s strategy finally worked out, taking fourth ahead of Alex Albon and Maxi Götz.
The result leaves Lawson 10 points clear in the championship lead on 175 points, ahead of Marco Wittman (165) who in turn is 5 points clear of Kelvin van de Linde (160) and Götz on 155. With four races remaining and 110 points still up for grabs, the championship will likely fall to one of these four drivers.
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