Sheldon Van Der Linde held onto the championship lead after a post qualifying penalty saw him start from P16. In a dramatic race that included safety cars and red flags, the South African drove to second place and picked up the fastest lap award. Race winner Lucas Auer looked on course to take the lead in the championship but following Van Der Linde’s drive he is just two points behind with just one race remaining.
At the start Auer, driving the #22 Mercedes AMG Team Winward car, held the lead into the first turn however a safety car was called before the end of the first lap as Arjun Maini went backwards into the barrier coming around Parabolica after contact with Maro Engel. Kelvin Van Der Linde also lost time after picking up a puncture following contact with Luca Stolz which tore the carcass of the tyre off which then bounced through the field.
Through all this Sheldon Van Der Linde driving the #31 Schubert Motorsport BMW had recovered up to P8 having started from P16 following a 10 place grid penalty for a pit lane infringement by team before qualifying began.
Lining up behind the safety car Auer held the lead with the #11 Walkenhorst BMW of Marco Wittmann in second place and René Rast behind him in the #33 Team ABT Audi. The #4 Mercedes AMG Team HRT car of Luca Stolz was in P4 and Mirko Bortolotti had dropped from his P3 starting place to P5 in the #63 GRT Lamborghini.
At the restart Wittmann drove around the outside of Auer and trying to defend the place Auer ended up dropping to P3 after Rast took the opportunity to also get past Auer. Further back Phillip Eng got sideways on the exit of the corner and collided with Rolf Ineichen before being collected by Marius Zug.
With debris covering the track this incident alone would have been enough for a safety car but on the approach to turn 8 Schumacher and Preining came together and both hit the barrier. Behind them Ricardo Feller tangled with Denis Olsen which put the Porsche into the barrier on the inside of the corner before spinning back into the middle of the track leaving a fireball in it’s wake as the engine separated from the car.
Following a lengthy red flag to clear up the mess the race got underway with just 17 cars remaining on track. Nearly an hour after the official race start with 35 minutes of racing remaining and still no full lap completed by any competitor the race director ordered a single file restart to ensure the race could finally get properly underway.
Auer led from Wittmann and Rast with Van Der Linde down in P8. At the pit stops Auer and WIttmann pitted together one lap after Rast who lost P3 to Luca Stolz. The top two held their positions however behind them Sheldon Van Der Linde was on a charge and with 15 minutes remaining had fought his way up to P3 following passes on Rast and Stolz. With pitstops complete the leader was Dev Gore who was not showing as having completed his official stop due to taking an early stop. The team believed it was within the pit window and kept Gore out but an investigation would be required to settle it.
His impact on the race would be minimal as his tyres started to fail, the leading trio cruised up behind him and Auer was the first to drive past him as Gore went deep into the hairpin leaving the door wide open for Auer to take the lead. Two corners later Van Der Linde took Wittmann by surprise with a late move into turn 8 to grab second place. On the following lap Gore dropped further back leaving Auer, Van Der Linde and Wittmann to take the podium positions. To top it Van Der Linde also took the fastest lap which kept the South African in the lead of the championship by just 2 points ahead of Auer.
The result also seals the teams championship for Schubert motorsport with 211 points compared to Mercedes AMG Team Winward and there 146 points and moving ahead of ABT Sportsline who failed to score points in the race.
Qualifying for DTM race two is at 10:10 CET on Sunday with the championship deciding race setting off at 13:30 CET.
Please consider making a donation so we can keep bringing you our best content from the racetrack.