Assen DTM: Wittmann wins for BMW, Lawson takes points lead

Factory BMW driver Marco Wittmann clinched his second victory of the 2021 season at Assen, as Liam Lawson snatched the points lead following a nightmare race for Kelvin van der Linde.

Walkenhorst's Wittmann had dropped to fifth place after a slow pitstop on lap nine, but he charged his way through the field to win from Lamborghini's Mirko Bortolotti, overcoming a five-second penalty for an incident involving Lawson.

An ill-timed safety car for Audi GT3 ace van der Linde left him 12th at the finish, costing him a championship lead he had held since the opening round of the season at Monza.

Story of the race

At the start of the race, Red Bull junior Lawson pulled away cleanly from pole position to take the lead into Turn 1, while guest driver Bortolotti emerged ahead in a three-way fight with Wittmann and Maximilian Gotz to take second.

A safety car was deployed soon after for a startline crash involving multiple drivers, which GruppeM’s Daniel Juncadella claimed was caused by Lawson bunching up the field well after the green light had been shown.

When the action finally resumed on lap 5, T3 Motorsport's Bortolotti was right on the tail of Lawson, who was hamstrung by 25kg of ballast on his AF Corse Ferrari.

After several failed attempts, Bortolotti finally made a move stick on the Red Bull junior at Turn 6 on the sixth lap of the race, putting Lamborghini in prime position for a maiden win in the series.

But a first win went begging when Gotz managed to execute an impressive undercut by pitting at the first opportunity on lap 6, jumping from fourth to first when all pitstops were settled.

Bortolotti held second place at this stage ahead of Lawson, with Philip Ellis Ellis in fourth from Wittmann.

The complexion of the race changed yet again when the safety car was called in for a second time on lap 15 to remove debris on track.

This brought Wittmann back into play, who had lost a chunk of time in the pits due to a slow stop. The German driver quickly cleared Ellis and Bortolotti at the restart and then set about chasing Lawson and Gotz for the net lead of the race.

On lap 20, he muscled his way past Lawson at Turn 8, with the Ferrari driver running wide over the gravel, before executing a similar move on Gotz a few laps later to move up to first.

The race control handed Wittmann a five-second penalty for allegedly making contact with Lawson, but he was able to build a gap of over eight seconds to add to his victory from Zolder last month.

Bortolotti recovered from a slow restart to finish second and secure a maiden podium for Lamborghini in the DTM, having passed Lawson for a second time with two laps left in the race.

Third place, however, was enough for Lawson to claim the championship lead on a difficult day for his title rival van der Linde.

The Abt Sportsline driver was on a reverse strategy, going long in the first stint to run in clear air even as the undercut proved to be extremely powerful at Assen.

But he was caught out when the safety car was deployed for a second time, wiping the time he had gained in the first stint. He finally made his pitstop with three laps to run in the race, dropping to 12th position.

Lawson now leads the championship on 156 points, with van der Linde and Wittmann tied on 148 points and Gotz - who slipped to fourth at the finish - a further point adrift and very much in the mix.

Behind the leading quartet, fifth place in the race went to ex-Formula 1 driver Christian Klien, who enjoyed his best finish of the season in a guest McLaren entry run by JP Motorsport.

Sheldon van der Linde was classified sixth in the sole surviving Rowe Racing BMW, ahead of Ellis’ Winward Mercedes and the second T3 Motorsport Lamborghini of Esteban Muth.

Sophia Floersch bagged her first points in the DTM in a race that saw only 13 finishers - with several drivers eliminated as a result of the startline incident - finishing ninth ahead of the Winward Mercedes of Lucas Auer in the Abt Sportsline Audi.

Esmee Hawkey (T3 Motorsport), Kelvin van der Linde and the latter’s teammate Rockenfeller completed the list of classified finishers.

Race results:

Cla # Driver Car Gap
1 11 Germany Marco Wittmann BMW M6 GT3  
2 63 Italy Mirko Bortolotti Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo 3.100
3 30 New Zealand Liam Lawson Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 4.336
4 4 Germany Maximilian Götz Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 5.028
5 15 Austria Christian Klien McLaren 720S GT3 5.528
6 31 South Africa Sheldon Van Der Linde BMW M6 GT3 6.176
7 57 United Kingdom Philip Ellis Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 6.802
8 10 Belgium Esteban Muth BMW M6 GT3 7.969
9 99 Germany Sophia Flörsch Audi R8 LMS Evo 11.147
10 22 Austria Lucas Auer Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 12.615
11 26 United Kingdom Esmee Hawkey Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo 16.929
12 3 South Africa Kelvin van der Linde Audi R8 LMS Evo 31.763
13 9 Germany Mike Rockenfeller Audi R8 LMS Evo 43.062
  18 Germany Maximilian Buhk Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 18 Laps
  51 Switzerland Nico Müller Audi R8 LMS Evo 22 Laps
  23 Thailand Alex Albon Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 24 Laps
  16 Germany Timo Glock BMW M6 GT3 28 Laps
  36 India Arjun Maini Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 34 Laps
  5 France Vincent Abril Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 34 Laps
  8 Spain Daniel Juncadella Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo  
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