Nurburgring DTM: Van der Linde extends lead with commanding win

Factory Audi driver Kelvin van der Linde extended his DTM championship lead after converting pole position into a third victory of the 2021 season at the Nurburgring.

At the start of the race, van der Linde had to work hard to fend off Philip Ellis and Marco Wittmann, the trio running three-wide on the run down to Turn 1.

Abt Sportsline man van der Linde was able to hold onto the lead as Wittmann backed out of the battle and Ellis was forced wide into Turn 1, but he had to do it again after the safety car was deployed to recover the stranded Mucke Mercedes of Maximilian Buhk.

At the restart, Ellis was again the quicker of the two but the inside line played into the hands of van der Linde, who was again able to fend off the Winward Mercedes driver's advances to stay at the front.

Having dealt with the initial threat from Ellis, van der Linde had a trouble-free run until the chequered flag, taking the finish with a five-second advantage over the Toksport Mercedes of Luca Stolz and Ellis.

Stolz was the most impressive of the newcomers at the Nurburgring, qualifying a strong fifth on the grid and jumping to third early on, before finishing second ahead of Ellis.

Ellis ran second for much of the race but had to give back a place to an out-of-position Alex Albon after cutting the final chicane, also dropping behind Stolz in the process.

Mike Rockenfeller completed an impressive charge from 16th to fourth in the second Abt Audi, aided by a long first stint that allowed him to run in clear air until lap 32 of 40.

A fifth place finish for HRT Mercedes driver Maximilian Gotz moved him up to second in the drivers' standings, as Wittmann wound up sixth in a Walkenhorst BMW saddled with 25kg of success ballast.

Sheldon van der Linde crossed the line in seventh in the Rowe Racing BMW, having started 18th.

Last year’s DTM runner up Nico Muller delivered an impressive recovery drive after qualifying down in 17th place - one spot behind Rockenfeller - but two five-second penalties for separate infringements left the Team Rosberg driver eighth at the finish.

Completing the top 10 were Mercedes Daniel Juncadella (GruppeM) and Arjun Maini (GetSpeed), the latter bagging his first point in the DTM.

The Red Bull Ferrari team endured its worst outing in the DTM so far, with both Liam Lawson and Albon failing to finish in the points after being involved in separate collisions.

Liam Lawson was running inside the top 10 when he was pitched into a spin by DTM returnee Markus Winkelhock at Turn 2, dropping to the rear of the pack.

Lawson could only recover to 13th after the incident while Winkelhock was hit with a drive-through penalty for causing the collision.

Albon, meanwhile, was also forced into a spin after being tapped by Maini at the same corner earlier in the race, and was later forced into retirement with what appeared to be a technical problem.

Porsche’s DTM debut ended in retirement after Michael Ammermuller suffered terminal damage to the front splitter of his 911 GT3 R in the opening laps.

Several other DTM newcomers or returnees also had a difficult time at the Nurburgring, with Christopher Haase - replacing Dev Gore at Team Rosberg - also suffering a DNF due to accident damage.

Winkelhock was only 16th after serving his drive-through, denying the Abt team a chance of a triple points finish, while Christian Klien could only finish 15th in the JP Motorsport McLaren after having to run wide to avoid the stranded Ferrari of Albon.

Race results:

Cla # Driver Car Laps Gap
1 3 South Africa Kelvin van der Linde
Audi R8 LMS Evo 40
2 7 Germany Luca Stolz
Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 40 4.749
3 57 United Kingdom Philip Ellis
Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 40 13.503
4 9 Germany Mike Rockenfeller
Audi R8 LMS Evo 40 14.050
5 4 Germany Maximilian Götz
Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 40 23.676
6 11 Germany Marco Wittmann
BMW M6 GT3 40 29.262
7 31 South Africa Sheldon Van Der Linde
BMW M6 GT3 40 33.058
8 51 Switzerland Nico Müller
Audi R8 LMS Evo 40 34.495
9 8 Spain Daniel Juncadella
Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 40 34.723
10 36 India Arjun Maini
Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 40 39.935
11 22 Austria Lucas Auer
Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 40 44.411
12 5 France Vincent Abril
Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 40 45.788
13 30 New Zealand Liam Lawson
Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 40 46.588
14 10 Belgium Esteban Muth
Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo 40 49.722
15 15 Austria Christian Klien
McLaren 720S GT3 40 50.162
16 99 Germany Markus Winkelhock
Audi R8 LMS Evo 40 50.449
17 26 United Kingdom Esmee Hawkey
Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo 40 56.459
18 6 Germany Hubert Haupt
Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 40 57.599
19 16 Germany Timo Glock
BMW M6 GT3 40 1'09.126
20 23 Thailand Alex Albon
Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 32 8 Laps
21 92 Michael Ammermüller
Porsche 911 GT3 R 6 34 Laps
22 12 Germany Christopher Haase
Audi R8 LMS Evo 1 39 Laps
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