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Sheldon van der Linde claims maiden DTM win at wet Assen

BMW’s Sheldon van der Linde claimed the victory in a wet second DTM race at Assen in The Netherlands, with the South African coming from 14th on the grid to first in a race interrupted by a late red flag.

The race had officially begun behind the safety car as heavy rain just before the start left track conditions significantly different to any other time in the weekend. However, a standing start was still carried out on the third lap.

When proceedings did get going, it was initially Audi’s Loïc Duval who passed pole-sitter René Rast at the start, as Rast moved to block title rival Nico Müller.

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That also allowed Robin Frijns into second, with Rast settling into third and the fast-starting WRT Audi of Ferdinand von Habsburg in fourth – at least for the first half dozen laps.

Robert Kubica was the first driver to pit on lap six for fresh wet rubber, with the majority of the field electing to remain on the wet-weather tyres.

Van der Linde had been just the second driver to come in for his mandatory stop, pitting on lap ten, in a strategy which saw him emerge as the leader of the group who had pitted.

It wasn’t until lap 22 that van der Linde assumed the actual lead on track, with just one lap of running before the race was temporarily red-flagged when WRT’s Fabio Scherer crashed heavily at Turn 8.

After a 15-minute delay, racing resumed for just seven laps, with van der Linde in front of Frijns, Müller and Glock.

In the end, Frijns – also a new winner this weekend – had no answer to the BMW driver in front’s pace, with 21-year-old van der Linde becoming the first South African DTM winner.

“I’m super, super happy to be back on the podium for the second time in a month,” said van der Linde. “Things are really working out for us at the moment.

“From P14 to P1 we never ever thought that [was possible] at the start of the race, but it just shows that anything is possible.”

Frijns claimed second, closing the points gap to Müller to 26 points, with the Swiss completing the podium.

Duval was fourth, having got past BMW’s Timo Glock at Turn 2 on the restart, followed by Rast in fifth, who took Glock just a few corners later.

Glock claimed sixth as the second-best BMW driver, ahead of WRT’s Habsburg in seventh.

BMW’s Marco Wittmann was eighth, ahead of Austrian BMW duo Philipp Eng and Lucas Auer in ninth and tenth respectively.

Mike Rockenfeller had been one of a small handful of drivers to experiment with slick tyres halfway through the race, pitting on lap 17 for the dry-weather rubber.

But it proved to be the wrong call, and the German was back in the pits for wets on lap 21, dropping him to the back. The Audi driver recovered three places after the restart, but missed out on the points in 11th.

WRT’s Harrison Newey finished a lap down, the Brit also experimenting with slicks, whilst Scherer was the race’s only retirement after his crash. Notably, only four drivers all season so far have failed to finish a race out of a combined total of 128 starts.

Müller continues to lead the standings with 164 points, ahead of Frijns on 138, Rast on 120 and Duval on 71.

Race result

1 31 Sheldon VAN DER LINDE BMW Team RBM BMW M4 DTM 31 1:13:27.930 1:35.854 14
2 4 Robin FRIJNS Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline Audi RS5 DTM 31 2.621 1:37.429 3
3 51 Nico MÜLLER Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline Audi RS5 DTM 31 3.658 1:37.612 4
4 28 Loïc DUVAL Audi Sport Team Phoenix Audi RS5 DTM 31 9.414 1:36.723 2
5 33 René RAST Audi Sport Team Rosberg Audi RS5 DTM 31 9.455 1:37.850 1
6 16 Timo GLOCK BMW Team RMG BMW M4 DTM 31 9.870 1:37.547 8
7 62 Ferdinand VON HABSBURG Audi Sport Team WRT Audi RS5 DTM 31 11.048 1:38.513 7
8 11 Marco WITTMANN BMW Team RMG BMW M4 DTM 31 11.666 1:36.938 11
9 25 Philipp ENG BMW Team RBM BMW M4 DTM 31 12.436 1:38.932 13
10 22 Lucas AUER BMW Team RMR BMW M4 DTM 31 13.033 1:37.150 16
11 99 Mike ROCKENFELLER Audi Sport Team Phoenix Audi RS5 DTM 31 14.015 1:38.327 5
12 53 Jamie GREEN Audi Sport Team Rosberg Audi RS5 DTM 31 14.396 1:37.583 12
13 27 Jonathan ABERDEIN BMW Team RMR BMW M4 DTM 31 17.018 1:38.223 6
14 8 Robert KUBICA BMW Team ART Audi RS5 DTM 31 17.863 1:38.438 10
15 10 Harrison NEWEY Audi Sport Team WRT Audi RS5 DTM 30 + 1 LAP 1:38.945 9
R 13 Fabio SCHERER Audi Sport Team WRT Audi RS5 DTM 21 DNF 1:39.324 15
DTM points deficit after Round 8
Graphic: TouringCars.Net
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