History was written on Saturday at the Nürburgring as Sheldon van der Linde led home his brother Kelvin van der Linde for a brotherly one-two victory in DTM. Their win came after Mirko Bortolotti took out race leader Felipe Fraga in a failed attempt to overtake the Ferrari.
After an almost four-hour delay and a cancelled qualifying, the first race took place after all when the fog suddenly lifted. A 30-minute notice was given and at 17:15 the fans finally got what they had been waiting for.
With the grid set by championship points, Mirko Bortolotti led the field to the green for the 55-minute race. Covering the inside of the first corner, the #63 GRT Lamborghini Huracán GT3 held on to the lead but immediately had Felipe Fraga challenge him throughout the opening lap, with the #74 Red Bull AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3 taking the lead at the tight Veedol-Schikane. Behind the two leaders, Lucas Auer moved up two places, finishing the first lap in the third position ahead of Sheldon van der Linde and Thomas Preining.
Fraga and Auer’s lighting start from the third row came at the expensive of Sheldon van der Linde and René Rast who initially seemed to have a great start, but soon lost heaps of places after the first corner.
Back in his rhythm after a few laps, Van der Linde’s #31 Schubert Motorsport BMW M4 GT3 retook third from Auer outbraking the #27 Mercedes-AMG Team Winward into the first corner.
The opening phase saw action continue with Thomas Preining and Maximilian Götz moving up rapidly, slotting into fourth and fifth respectively after they shortly fought Auer and Ricardo Feller for the positions just as the pitstop window opened. Preining, however, damaged the splitter of his Porsche jumping the kerbs at the chicane and forcing #24 Küs Team Bernhard into retirement.
Immediately after being overtaken by the duo, Auer steered his Mercedes-AMG GT3 into the pits for his mandatory stop. Back out, he seemed to have the better pace on the damp Nürburgring Sprint track winning the battle from Schubert’s Philipp Eng who had jumped Auer through the pitstops.
Halfway into the race, Fraga had not rid himself of Bortolotti, who the longer the stint went on, the closer he got to the Brazilian. They were closely followed by Sheldon van der Linde who decided to not get involved in the battle and stop earlier than the cars ahead of him.
Coming in one lap later than his rival, Bortolotti exited the pits just in front of Fraga. Out on still cold tyres, however, the Italian slipped up ever so slightly in the AMG Arena. As it opened the door for Fraga, it was all he needed to retake the position.
After everyone had made their pitstops, Fraga reappeared in the actual led with Bortolotti still stuck to his rear wing. Van der Linde, with his earlier pitstop, was seconds behind in third while Abt Sportsline drivers Ricardo Feller and Kelvin van der Linde followed in fourth and fifth.
It all came to a head with 11 minutes left. Coming to the final corner, Bortolotti came in for a late move but on the damp track was unable to stop his car in time. Catching Fraga unaware, the Lamborghini rammed the rear of the Ferrari as both men spun around, ending their race.
Without having to involve himself in the battle, Sheldon van der Linde squeezed past the stranded Bortolotti and the guardrail to grab the lead with a healthy margin to his brother, who meanwhile had gotten past his teammate, and raced to the chequered flag for a ‘VDL’ brothers one-two victory.
For Ricardo Feller it was a fighting finale for third place trying to fend off Götz who had been on a roll all race coming from a lowly 16th place on the grid. The defending champion was picking off cars left, right and centre, but ran out of time getting past the Audi works driver.
Fifth place went to Lucas Auer, another result that was to be earned as the Austrian had a long line of cars behind him to defend from. Philipp Eng, Nick Cassidy, Marco Wittmann, René Rast and Mikael Grenier completed the top 10.
Sunday is expected to start out cloudy but clear up at midday for a sunny race. If fog doesn’t again throw a wrench into the machine, qualifying 2 will take place at 10:15 CEST with the second race starting at 13:33 CEST. Watch all the action live on GT.REPORT/live.
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