Hockenheim DTM: Van der Linde wins to draw level with Lawson

Audi driver Kelvin van der Linde converted pole position into victory in the first DTM race at Hockenheim to draw level on points with Red Bull’s Liam Lawson, as Alex Albon finished second.

Van der Linde held the lead in the opening two corners from a charging Lucas Auer, but a bigger battle was brewing right behind the leading duo.

Having witnessed Lawson bang wheels with Maximilian Gotz as they exited Turn 2, Arjun Maini cleared both Gotz and Daniel Juncadella on the back straight and then set about chasing Lawson and Auer for second. 

But the GetSpeed driver misjudged his braking into the Turn 6 hairpin, slamming into the side of Auer’s Winward Mercedes and bringing out the safety car before the end of the opening lap.

Gotz emerged from the chaos in second position behind race leader van der Linde, with Lawson dropping to third after having to go around the crashed cars of Maini and Lawson.

When the pit window opened at the end of lap 5, Gotz and Lawson pitted at the first opportunity, hoping to undercut van der Linde - who had built a small gap for himself at the restart.

But when the Abt Sportline driver did stop a lap later, he emerged well clear of the chasing duo, staving off any threat of being jumped in the pits.

From there on the South African enjoyed a clear run to the finish, scoring his fourth victory of the season - and first since the second race at the Nurburgring in August.

With Lawson dropping to fourth on the final lap, van der Linde has managed to completely wipe out what had been a 15-point deficit coming into the penultimate round of the season.

Second place in the race went to Lawson's AF Corse teammate Albon, who charged his way up the pack from ninth on the grid after making a relatively late pitstop on lap 12.

Eight laps after bolting on fresh tyres, Albon passed Lawson into Turn 6 and then muscled his way past Juncadella’s Mercedes to secure his fourth podium finish of the season.

2013 champion Mike Rockenfeller completed an even more impressive recovery drive from 17th on the grid to finish third, playing a big role in teammate van der Linde’s title bid in the process.

Stopping for new tyres just 11 laps from the finish, Rockenfeller picked up drivers one by one in the final stages of the race, putting himself on the cusp of a rostrum result going into the final tour.

Lawson covered the inside line into Turn 6 and was able to fend off Rockenfeller into the following right-hander, but the Abt Sportsline driver managed to snatch third place from his AF Corse rival into Turn 8.

Gotz eventually finished fifth behind Lawson having run second for the majority of the race after complaining about brake issues over team radio.

Esteban Muth finished an excellent sixth in the lead T3 Lamborghini ahead of the Mercedes cars of Juncadella (GruppeM), Philip Ellis (Winward) and Vincent Abril (HRT).

The top 10 was rounded out by Rowe Racing’s Timo Glock, the BMW driver bagging the final point following a long tussle with the Mucke Motorsport of debutant Marvin Dienst, who was substituting for the absent Maximilian Buhk.

Making his maiden appearance in the DTM in a fourth Abt-run Audi, Lucas di Grassi finished in 15th place behind another guest driver Hubert Haupt of the HRT Mercedes team.

While Lawson and van der Linde are now level on points in the standings, Marco Wittmann’s title hopes took a big hit after he was forced to retire his Walkenhorst BMW with accidental damage.

The two-time DTM champion had slipped from 13th to 17th after damaging his car in the opening lap incident between Auer and Maini and could never recover thereafter, bringing his car into the pits on lap 24 while running outside the points.

Race results:

Cla Driver Car Gap
1 South Africa Kelvin van der Linde Audi R8 LMS Evo  
2 Thailand Alex Albon Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 5.886
3 Germany Mike Rockenfeller Audi R8 LMS Evo 15.601
4 New Zealand Liam Lawson Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 17.233
5 Germany Maximilian Götz Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 17.940
6 Belgium Esteban Muth BMW M6 GT3 18.779
7 Spain Daniel Juncadella Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 19.966
8 United Kingdom Philip Ellis Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 21.119
9 France Vincent Abril Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 28.817
10 Germany Timo Glock BMW M6 GT3 36.432
11 Germany Marvin Dienst Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 39.674
12 Germany Sophia Flörsch Audi R8 LMS Evo 40.662
13 United Kingdom Esmee Hawkey Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo 44.633
14 Germany Hubert Haupt Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 46.641
15 Brazil Lucas di Grassi Audi R8 LMS Evo 1'02.029
16 United States Dev Gore Audi R8 LMS Evo 1'03.246
  Switzerland Nico Müller Audi R8 LMS Evo 9 Laps
  South Africa Sheldon Van Der Linde BMW M6 GT3 10 Laps
  Germany Marco Wittmann BMW M6 GT3 12 Laps
  Austria Lucas Auer Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 31 Laps
  India Arjun Maini Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo  
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Hockenheim DTM: Van der Linde takes pole, Lawson third

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