Kelvin van der Linde wins after 40-minute rain break

Kelvin van der Linde (Abt-Audi) won the rainy Saturday race of the DTM at the Lausitzring. The Abt driver celebrated his sixth victory in the traditional German series and the first since September 2023. Starting from pole position, van der Linde was not impressed by an interim interruption of around 40 minutes and made the victory perfect in the first of two races this weekend.

When he crossed the finish line at 6:37 p.m. that evening, the South African had a commanding 2.5 second lead over second-placed Maro Engel (Winward-Mercedes). The AMG veteran, who had started the race from 13th place, benefited from an early and quick pit stop on rain tires and was pushed into second place right at the start. This was to remain the case until the end of the race. The reigning DTM champion Thomas Preining (Manthey-Porsche) completed the podium in third place after starting from P2.

DTM race interrupted due to rain

Because TV partner ProSieben was showing the semifinals of the Ice Hockey World Championship in the Czech Republic live on TV on Saturday, the DTM start was moved to 5 p.m. The race was interrupted for 13 minutes with red flags due to a heavy rain shower: It had started to rain at the beginning of the second lap and the precipitation became increasingly heavier. The safety car was therefore deployed on the eighth lap, and one lap later the race management waved red flags. Because all drivers pitted on rain tires – the brand new mixtures from Pirelli – the field was mixed up.

After the 13-minute break, the race management started a new attempt, which had to be aborted after two laps behind the safety car due to the heavy rain. Another 20 minutes passed before the DTM field was able to continue its journey on the still wet track at 5:54 p.m. The spectators thus experienced a rain break of a total of 40 minutes.

Auer in fourth place despite cold – Feller catches up

Behind winner Kelvin van der Linde, Engel and Preining, Lucas Auer (Winward-Mercedes) achieved fourth place. The Austrian is suffering from a bad cold, but held up well despite the long break. Fifth place went to Ricardo Feller in the second Abt Audi, although the Swiss had to complete a penalty lap for excessive speed in the pit lane and was relegated from P2 to 14th place after starting because of his late tire change.

Former DTM champion Sheldon van der Linde (Schubert-BMW) also managed a great comeback, improving from twelfth place on the grid to sixth, having fallen far behind in the meantime due to a penalty lap. On the last lap, the South African overtook the man in front of him, Arjun Maini (HRT-Mercedes, started from P5), who crossed the finish line in seventh place. Nicki Thiim (SSR-Lamborghini), Christian Engelhart (GRT-Lamborghini) and Luca Stolz (HRT-Mercedes) completed the top 10.

DTM at the Lausitzring: Second race on Sunday

The second race of the The DTM at the Lausitzring will take place on Sunday, May 26th at 1:30 p.m. Before that, the qualifying at 9:40 a.m. will decide the starting grid for the fourth race of the year. ProSieben will show the Sunday race live on free TV, and the qualifying will be broadcast on the ran website.

DTM Lausitzring: This is how the race went on Saturday

The starting line-up: Kelvin van der Linde had to wait 693 days for his seventh pole position in the DTM. The Abt driver was last on the best starting position on July 2, 2022 at the Norisring. Van der Linde won qualifying with a lead of just six thousandths of a second over Thomas Preining. Abt-Audi and Manthey-Porsche shared the first two rows: Ricardo Feller (Abt) and Ayhancan Güven (Manthey) shared row two. They were followed in fifth to eighth place by Arjun Maini, Nicki Thiim, Mirko Bortolotti and Lucas Auer.

The start: Ricardo Feller overtook Thomas Preining before the first corner and took second place behind pole-setter Kelvin van der Linde. Ayhancan Güven in the second Manthey Porsche even lost two positions and fell back to P5 behind Arjun Maini and Nicki Thiim. Sheldon van der Linde was one of the winners of the opening phase, gaining four places from P12 to P18. At the beginning of the second lap, a rain shower began over the start/finish straight.

The first half of the race: Sheldon van der Linde continued his recovery and had already improved to fourth place by lap 4, having overtaken Güven and Thiim in one go. “The BMWs have 100 hp more,” complained Lucas Auer on the team radio. On lap 5, Thiim, Aitken, Maini, Paul, Engelhart, Engel, Schmid and Vermeulen headed for the pit lane to change to rain tires. Leader Kelvin van der Linde and numerous other drivers followed on lap 6, while Feller, Güven, Engstler, Rast (engine off) and Bortolotti completed another lap on slick tires and only came in on lap 7.

Sheldon van der Linde and Christian Engelhart each received a penalty lap for unsafe release, while Luca Engstler went off the track on his out lap. After all the pit stops, Kelvin van der Linde was ahead of Maro Engel (started from P13), Nicki Thiim and Arjun Maini. On lap 8, after around 15 minutes of racing, the safety car turned onto the track due to heavy rain. After one lap behind the safety car, the race was stopped with red flags after lap 9.

After the 13-minute break, the restart took place on a wet track behind the safety car. After two laps behind the neutralization vehicle, red flags were waved again at 5:34 p.m. due to the persistent rain. At 5:54 p.m., with 40 minutes of racing remaining, the field set off behind the safety car for the second time.

The rest of the race: At the restart on lap 17, Kelvin van der Linde stayed ahead of Maro Engel, Nicki Thiim, Arjun Maini and Thomas Preining. Lucas Auer improved to P7, while BMW drivers Wittmann and van der Linde started their penalty laps and fell even further back. Ayhancan Güven was the first driver to turn off for the mandatory tire change to new rain tires in the postponed pit stop window on lap 18, the rest of the field stayed out. Nicki Thiim followed on lap 20 from P3, apparently due to a tire puncture.

The field spread out at the front, van der Linde extended his lead over Engel to more than 4 seconds. Luca Stolz received a penalty lap for spinning his wheels during a pit stop. On lap 22, Arjun Maini had fresh rain tires fitted to his HRT Mercedes from P3 and lost a lot of time in the process, Sheldon van der Linde also came in. Christian Engelhart made his obligatory pit stop on lap 24 while driving in P4.

Tension on lap 26, when leaders van der Linde and Preining (P3) completed their tire changes, while Engel stayed out and initially took the lead. Engel, Feller and Bortolotti took the last opportunity on the following lap (lap 27), with the Lamborghini driver risking a change to slick tires. Feller, meanwhile, received a penalty lap for speeding too high in the pit lane.

After the last pit stops, van der Linde was comfortably in the lead by 6 seconds ahead of Engel, Preining, Auer and Engelhart. On lap 30, Jack Aitken spun on the track after being hit by Ayhancan Güven. Bortolotti turned up the heat on his slick tires and managed to move up to eleventh place. Sheldon van der Linde overtook Arjun Maini for P6 on the last lap (38), while the positions at the top remained unchanged.

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