The DTM Championship got to Spa Francorchamps at the weekend and saw Sheldon van der Linde increase his lead in the championship whilst Nick Cassidy took his maiden victory.
Race one saw an all Porsche front row with Thomas Preining driving the #24 Kus Team Bernhard Porsche lined up next to Dennis Olsen in the #94 SSR Performance Porsche. At the start the pair sent their cars into La Source together but a moment for Preining through Eau Rouge saw him go up the hill sideways following contact with the #1 Mercedes Team Winward Mercedes AMG of reigning champion Maximilian Götz.
Lucas Auer in the #22 Mercedes Team Winward car benefitted to jump into second place behind Olsen whilst Preining dropped to eighth place. However a slow pit stop after the front left tyre wasn’t secured correctly saw Auer lose 3 seconds in the stops. Race leader Olsen had his own issues, reporting to the team on his outlap that he struck the pitwall on his exit.
It didn’t seem to affect his pace however and he kept hold of the lead whilst behind him Auer lost P2 to after Götz pitted a lap later and enjoyed a clean stop. Auer had the advantage of warmer tyres and was able to drive past Götz down the Kemmel Straight. Unforunately for Auer he was forced to give the place back after a front left puncture saw him disappear down the order.
At the front Olsen kept hold of the lead to take victory ahead of Götz and Preining who had fought his way back up through the field.
René Rast driving the #33 Team Abt Audi started on pole ahead of championship leader Sheldon van der Linde in the #31 Schubert Motorsport BMW and Nick Cassidy starting from P3 in the #37 Red Bull Alpha Tauri AF Corse Ferrari. Race one winner Dennis Olsen had a disappointing qualifying session and would start from P21.
At the green flag van der Linde had the better run out of La Source and managed to build a narrow advantage over second placed Rast who was dealing with severe pressure from Cassidy.
The battle between the pair allowed van der Linde to get away at the front and it took several laps for the pair to come to an agreement over position with Cassidy’s overtake starting on the run into La Source where a robust defence from Rast saw the pair swap paint before running side by side all the way to Le Combe where Cassidy was able to get ahead on the inside line. It would prove to be academic for Rast who first picked up a 5 second penalty for the clash with Cassidy into La Source but with 5 minutes remaining he was forced to stop at Le Combe.
At the pit stops van der Linde lost a few seconds to a stubborn left front which delayed the South African enough for Cassidy to take the lead but van der Linde wasn’t going to give it up that easily. The battle between the two drivers continued all the way to Bruxelle were van der Linde had to concede that he wasn’t going to get past the Ferrari on that lap.
With a full course yellow called to retrieve Rasts car the race finished with a one lap sprint which saw Cassidy hold the lead ahead of van der Linde to take his first win in DTM. van der Linde followed him home with Thomas Preining taking P3.
The result sees Sheldon van der Linde extend his lead in the championship taking him to 130 points with Lucas Auer moving up to second place with 98 points and Rene Rast in third place with 96 points.
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