Maximillian Götz took victory and the 2021 DTM title at his home town race at the Norisring this afternoon in a dramatic and bruising final round. His main rivals for the title, Liam Lawson and Kelvin van der Linde both failed to score after contact with each other and others saw them finish at the back of the pack.
As expected the drama started right at the start as Van der Linde driving the Team Abt Sportsline Audit R8 GT3 was left behind a little by Lawson in the Red Bull AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3 on the run down to the first corner. A move that could only be described as optimistic saw Van der Linde off the track on the inside of the turn with no option but to torpedo the Ferrari of Lawson which in turn collided with team-mate Cassidy in the Alpha Tauri Ferrari 488 GT3 who was unsuccessfully trying to stay out of trouble on the outside line.
The contact left both Ferraris stranded at turn one whilst Lucas Auer in the Team Winward Mercedes-AMG GT3 was the main beneficiary, exiting the corner in first place with Van der Linde recovering not far behind him with Philip Ellis on his tail.
Both Ferraris were able to restart but Lawson was reporting significant damage to his steering. The team sent him out anyway to circulate as best he could in the hope that further DNF’s would push him up the field. Lapping some 25 seconds per lap slower than the field, Lawson finished the race 23 laps down on the leaders.
The action from Van der Linde earned him a 5 second time penalty and even with Lawson not scoring, Van der Linde would need to win the race to take the championship.
Things were looking up for Van der Linde when Philip Ellis in the second Team Winward Mercedes-AMG GT3 picked up a 5 second penalty for a pitstop infringement. This gifted second place to Van der Linde but with Auer some 7 seconds up the road it was doubtful that he would catch him.
With 13 minutes remaining Van der Linde entered the pits and took his penalty. He exited just ahead of Götz who with warmer tyres pushed the South African hard for the position. Exiting the first hairpin they were nose to tail and by the second hairpin Götz was in front but Van der Linde went up the inside and took the place back.
On the following lap and at the same location it was Götz who tried to power past Van der Linde on the exit. Defending the position, Van der Linde came across the track making significant contact with the Team HRT Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Götz but both continued. Unfortunately for Van der Linde the contact had damaged his rear tyre which gave up at the Schöller-S. The rapidly deflating tyre span the Audi around and handed the position to Götz.
The title now looked to be Lawson’s but with a few minutes remaining the leading Mercedes of Lucas Auer who was over 7 seconds ahead started to slow. This allowed the second placed Mercedes of Götz to take the lead and ultimately take the title by just 3 points ahead of Liam Lawson.
Lawson’s team-mate Nick Cassidy made a last ditch effort to swing the result back to Ferrari. With the Mercedes of Juncadella, Ellis and Auer between Cassidy and the leading Mercedes of Götz. Cassidy pushed hard to find a way through the AMG wall but contact with Ellis was too much for the Ferrari which finished the race limping into the pit lane whilst Ellis dropped to seventh place.
Götz crossed the line in first place taking the championship by 3 points from Liam Lawson whilst Kelvin van der Linde finished in third place on 208 points.
On the road behind Götz, Lucas Auer took second place with Maximillian Buhk, benefitting from Cassidy’s DNF, a penalty for Juncadella and damage to Ellis, jumped from sixth to third in the Mucke Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3. Fourth place went to Mike Rockenfeller who finished his last DTM race for Audi in P4.
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