At the fifth race weekend of the DTM season, Sheldon van der Linde (RSA) announced his return from the summer break with a perfect result at the Nürburgring (GER). On Saturday, the Schubert Motorsport driver in the #31 BMW M4 GT3 celebrated his third win of the season to return to the top of the drivers’ standings. He claimed pole position on Sunday but dropped back to ninth in the race after a safety car period. With 110 points, van der Linde is now 21 points ahead of his closest challenger. Philipp Eng (AUT) finished sixth on Saturday to score points for himself and his team. Schubert Motorsport remains at the top of the team standings with 149 points.
After heavy fog caused the cancellation of the qualifying session, Sheldon van der Linde started Saturday’s race from second place, corresponding to his position in the championship. Drivers had to wait for visibility to improve before starting the race late in the afternoon and van der Linde benefited from a collision between the two leading cars on his way to victory. He crossed the finish line ahead of his brother Kelvin van der Linde (RSA, Audi) to record another first; two brothers had never previously claimed the top two spots on a DTM podium.
On Sunday, they picked up where they had left off. Sheldon van der Linde secured pole position ahead of his brother to score another three points. At the start of the race, he was in the lead with team-mate Philipp Eng behind him, having moved up from fifth to second thanks to an outstanding start. However, a safety car period then threw the field into disarray as all drivers made their mandatory pit stops. Both Schubert Motorsport drivers fell back some way and Eng then retired after a collision. Van der Linde finished ninth, scoring two points.
Walkenhorst Motorsport endured a tough weekend. Marco Wittmann (GER) finished eighth on Saturday to chalk up some points. On Sunday, an unscheduled trip across the grass during the restart after the safety car period knocked him a long way back and he was unable to improve on tenth place, scoring one point. Esteban Muth (BEL) finished in 13th and 16th positions. 17-year-old Theo Oeverhaus (GER) made a guest appearance in a third Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW M4 GT3, becoming the youngest DTM driver of all time. He crossed the finish line in 19th position in both races.
Reactions to the DTM weekend at the Nürburgring.
Andreas Roos (Head of BMW M Motorsport): “Congratulations to Sheldon van der Linde for his win, and for regaining the lead in the drivers’ championship. Congratulations are also in order for Schubert Motorsport, who have defended the top of the team standings thanks to the points scored by Sheldon van der Linde and Philipp Eng. After the great race on Saturday, we were unfortunately unable to record any top results on Sunday. It started well, with pole position for Sheldon and then he and Philipp were in the top two positions but then we had no chance at all after the safety car period. It was also a shame that Marco Wittmann was unable to convert his good pace into fitting results. Many thanks to all the drivers and teams for their efforts!”
Sheldon van der Linde (#31 BMW M4 GT3, Schubert Motorsport): “I am very pleased with this weekend! I hadn’t expected to be able to score so many points at the Nürburgring. Many thanks to the Schubert team for doing such a superb job. I was absolutely speechless after that one-two result on Saturday for me and my brother Kelvin. We had always been aiming to reach the podium together one day. This dream came true on Saturday. I am now approaching the next race weekends with confidence, in first place in the drivers’ standings.”
Philipp Eng (#25 BMW M4 GT3, Schubert Motorsport): “The car was very good for the whole weekend. On Saturday, I had to start from 14th without any qualifying session, but the balance of the car was perfect and I was able to move up to sixth place. That does not happen as a matter of course in such a strong field and it was a lot of fun, with some tough but fair duels. Qualifying went well on Sunday and I was then in second place in the race, right behind Sheldon. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to pass him and I was in the safety car period for the second pit stop slot, when only one car from each team is allowed to come in. That put me at a massive disadvantage and cost me a lot of positions. Luck was just not on our side this time.”
Marco Wittmann (#11 BMW M4 GT3, Walkenhorst Motorsport): “That was a difficult weekend for us and we just didn’t have the pace required for a top finish. All the delays due to fog made Saturday a chaotic day. At least we were able to match our grid position by finishing eighth. Things briefly looked very good on Sunday when I was up in fourth place but then I got pushed out by another car and fell back a long way. I was able to battle my way back up to tenth but that is still nowhere near what we expect. Congratulations to Sheldon on the win, the pole position and first place in the drivers’ championship.”
Esteban Muth (#10 BMW M4 GT3, Walkenhorst Motorsport): “Our pace was good in Saturday’s race, but we had to start from a very long way back once qualifying was cancelled and the grid positions were determined by the championship standings. Qualifying was disappointing on Sunday for some reason, we had been planning to do better. And then we just didn’t have the pace required in the race. The speed was there in some situations, but then fell away massively at other times. We have to take a look at why that happened.”
Theo Oeverhaus (#34 BMW M4 GT3, Walkenhorst Motorsport): “I am very happy with my DTM premiere and with the fact that I achieved all my personal goals. Many thanks to Walkenhorst Motorsport and BMW M Motorsport for this fantastic opportunity to make a guest appearance in the DTM. It has been a brilliant experience and an honour to be able to drive the BMW M4 GT3 at the highest level after one and a half years in the BMW M2 Cup and with the BMW M4 GT4 in the DTM Trophy.”