DTM Hockenheim: Van der Linde crowned champion, Wittmann wins finale

BMW’s Sheldon van der Linde clinched the 2022 DTM title with a third-place finish in the championship finale at Hockenheim, as Marco Wittmann made a rapid launch to score his first win of the year.

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Van der Linde arrived into the final race with a meagre two-point lead over Mercedes’ Lucas Auer and a 19-point advantage over departing Audi driver Rene Rast.

With Rast failing to score the win he needed to have any chance of clinching a fourth championship and Auer finishing behind him, a third-place result for van der Linde was enough to secure him a maiden title in the DTM.

At the start of the race, Rast was unable to take full advantage of pole position as he slipped to second behind a fast-charging Wittmann, who leapt from fourth to first on the run down to Turn 1. 

Van der Linde dropped to sixth place in his Schubert BMW on the opening lap, but capitalised on Audi duo Marius Zug and Dev Gore battling with each other to overtake both of them into one move into Turn 1.

Further down the pack, Auer quickly propelled his Winward Mercedes inside the top 10 after a truncated qualifying had left him down in 11th place on the grid, but he was still too far behind van der Linde to overhaul him in the champ

Van der Linde arrived into the final race with a meagre two-point lead over Mercedes' Lucas Auer and a 19-point advantage over departing Audi driver Rene Rast.

With Rast failing to score the win he needed to have any chance of clinching a fourth championship and Auer finishing behind him, a third-place result for van der Linde was enough to secure him a maiden title in the DTM.

At the start of the race, Rast was unable to take full advantage of pole position as he slipped to second behind a fast-charging Wittmann, who leapt from fourth to first on the run down to Turn 1. 

Van der Linde dropped to sixth place in his Schubert BMW on the opening lap, but capitalised on Audi duo Marius Zug and Dev Gore battling with each other to overtake both of them into one move into Turn 1.

Further down the pack, Auer quickly propelled his Winward Mercedes inside the top 10 after a truncated qualifying had left him down in 11th place on the grid, but he was still too far behind van der Linde to overhaul him in the championship.

Van der Linde and Auer pitted at the same time on lap 6, with the two drivers returning in the same positions as previously as the South African continued to maintain the edge on his main rival.

Auer was unable to make any in-roads into van der Linde's lead in his second stint and was even repassed by the Rosberg Audi of Nico Muller, dropping back to seventh place.

Van der Linde meanwhile moved up into podium positions when Grasser Lamborghini driver Clemens Schmid tumbled down the order with a puncture, moving him further clear of Auer in the championship standings.

Although the South African did come under pressure from Zug's Attempto Audi in the final stages of the race, he was able to hang on to third and secure his maiden title in the DTM.

It ended a six-year winless streak for BMW in Germany's premier racing category, with the Munich-based brand having last won a championship in 2016 with Wittmann.

Coincidentally, it was Wittmann who claimed victory in the Hockenheim finale after emerging on top in a close duel with Rast that saw them bang wheels multiple times after their pitstops.

Having stopped for fresh tyres a lap clear of the Walkenhorst driver, Rast was able to rapidly close in on him and sent his car up the inside into Turn 6, with the two drivers running side-by-side into the following right-hander.

Rast and Wittmann then made contact going into Turn 8 with the Audi driver sent wide over the run-off area, but Rast kept the foot on the throttle and finally completed the move into Turn 12.

However, uncharacteristically for the three-time champion, he made a slight error going into the Turn 5 kink on the following lap, running wide over the grass and into a sponsorship hoarding before rejoining the track.

This gave Wittmann the incentive to retake the lead and he duly made the move around the outside into the hairpin en route to victory.

Rast, hence, had to settle for second in his final race outing as an Audi driver, while van der Linde finished 10s behind the leading duo to secure the title.

Attempto Audi's Zug clinched his first top 10 result of the season in fourth, while Kelvin van der Linde charged from near the back of the pack to finish fifth in the Abt Audi.

Muller was classified sixth, while Auer could make no progress in the second stint carrying 25kg success ballast on his Winward Mercedes as he crossed the line a disappointing seventh.

The top 10 was completed by Leon Kohler (Walkenhorst BMW), Luca Stolz (HRT Mercedes) and Ricardo Feller (Abt Audi), the last-named grabbing the final championship point despite having to make an extra puncture to replace a damaged tyre.

DTM Hockenheim - Race results:

Cla # Driver Car Gap
1 11 Germany Marco Wittmann BMW M4 GT3  
2 33 Germany René Rast Audi R8 LMS Evo II 4.425
3 31 South Africa Sheldon Van Der Linde BMW M4 GT3 14.793
4 66 Germany Marius Zug Audi R8 LMS Evo II 15.084
5 3 South Africa Kelvin van der Linde Audi R8 LMS Evo II 23.821
6 51 Switzerland Nico Müller Audi R8 LMS Evo II 41.011
7 22 Austria Lucas Auer Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 41.433
8 10 Leon Köhler BMW M4 GT3 41.557
9 4 Germany Luca Stolz Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 42.360
10 7 Switzerland Ricardo Feller Audi R8 LMS Evo II 42.716
11 6 Italy Alessio Deledda Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo 43.164
12 12 United States Dev Gore Audi R8 LMS Evo II 1'05.349
  88 Germany Maro Engel Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 11 Laps
  85 Austria Clemens Schmid Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo 12 Laps
  18 Germany Maximilian Buhk Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 21 Laps
  25 Austria Philipp Eng BMW M4 GT3 30 Laps
  63 Italy Mirko Bortolotti Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo 30 Laps
  92 Germany Christian Engelhart Porsche 911 GT3 R 33 Laps
  1 Germany Maximilian Götz Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo  
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DTM Hockenheim: Rast takes pole as red flag compromises title rivals
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