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DTM: Sheldon van der Linde finishes runner-up on Sunday at Spa-Francorchamps and extends his lead in the championship.

Arriving at Spa-Francorchamps (BEL) with three victories to his name, Sheldon van der Linde (RSA) finished on the podium for the fourth time this season in the Sunday race. Second place saw the South African extend his lead in the Drivers’ Championship.

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Spa-Francorchamps . Arriving at Spa-Francorchamps (BEL) with three victories to his name, Sheldon van der Linde (RSA) finished on the podium for the fourth time this season in the Sunday race. Second place saw the South African extend his lead in the Drivers’ Championship. With four rounds remaining, van der Linde has 130 points to his name and a lead of 32 points over his closest rival. Schubert Motorsport has 175 points in the Team competition, 37 more than the second-placed outfit. As well as van der Linde, Philipp Eng (AUT) and Marco Wittmann (GER) also finished in the top ten at Spa-Francorchamps.

 

The third-from-last race weekend of the DTM season was one of two halves for the BMW M Motorsport teams. On Saturday, all the BMW M4 GT3s struggled badly in the rain in qualifying and on a drying track in the race. Wittmann was the only driver to pick up points in ninth place. Van der Linde came home outside the points in twelfth place, but was fortunate to see most of his title rivals also fail to score points.

 

On Sunday, van der Linde showed strong nerve on a drying track in qualifying, securing second place and a spot on the front row. From there, he initially took the lead in the race, but surrendered that to eventual winner Nick Cassidy (NZL, Ferrari) as a result of slight issues during the pit stop. Nevertheless, the 18 points for second place and two points for his qualifying result were enough to see van der Linde significantly extend his lead in the championship. His team-mate Philipp Eng was involved in some impressive battles on his way to seventh place in Sunday’s race. He had previously failed to finish on Saturday, due to a technical issue. Wittmann came home ninth in race two to repeat the previous day’s result.

 

Esteban Muth (BEL) raced in a very special livery at his home event. Muth was supporting the “Make-A-Wish” charity with the livery of his BMW M4 GT3, which was designed by Belgian princess Delphine de Saxe-Cobourg. He ended the two races in 13th and 24th place.

 

The penultimate race weekend of the DTM season takes place from 23rd to 25th September at the Red Bull Ring (AUT).

 

 

Quotes from the DTM weekend at Spa-Francorchamps.

 

Sheldon van der Linde (#31 BMW M4 GT3, Schubert Motorsport): “Sunday went superbly for me. After failing to score on Saturday, I was actually able to extend my lead in the Drivers’ Championship – that is fantastic. I believe I could even have won the race, but unfortunately we lost some time in the pit stop. These things happen. Apart from that, the guys have done a fantastic job all year. When it came to the battle with Nick Cassidy, I was thinking about the points and did not try anything crazy. The championship obviously looks good for me, but I have always done well so far by simply focussing on the next race. I am not going to change that now.”

 

Philipp Eng (#25 BMW M4 GT3, Schubert Motorsport): “On the whole, that was a difficult weekend for me. On Saturday, I chose the wrong tyre pressure in qualifying which meant I had to start well down the field. I then had to retire from the race with a technical issue. The tyre pressure was right on Sunday. I then had a good start to the race, good pace in general, and a good restart after the yellow flags. Seventh place means some good points. I am now hoping for good results at my home event in Austria.”

 

Marco Wittmann (#11 BMW M4 GT3, Walkenhorst Motorsport): “Unfortunately, it was another tough weekend for us. On one hand, we were lacking pace, even compared to our fellow BMWs. On the other hand, we unfortunately did not make good strategic decisions in the qualifying sessions, which really cost us with regard to the grid positions. On a positive note, I was able to fight my way into the points in both races and had a lot of good battles. However, it is obviously a meagre haul.”

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