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DTM: Sheldon van der Linde still in the overall lead – Philipp Eng secures fifth place on Sunday in his home race in Spielberg.

The penultimate race weekend of the DTM season at the Red Bull Ring (AUT) may not have gone according to plan for Sheldon van der Linde (RSA), but he was able to stay in the overall lead nonetheless. The South African driver missed out on the points in both races, finishing eleventh twice, but still leads by eleven in the drivers’ championship ahead of the season finale in Hockenheim (GER) in two weeks.

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Spielberg. The penultimate race weekend of the DTM season at the Red Bull Ring (AUT) may not have gone according to plan for Sheldon van der Linde (RSA), but he was able to stay in the overall lead nonetheless. The South African driver missed out on the points in both races, finishing eleventh twice, but still leads by eleven in the drivers’ championship ahead of the season finale in Hockenheim (GER) in two weeks. At his home race in Austria, Philipp Eng (AUT) produced the best performance by a BMW M works driver, finishing fifth and just missing out on the podium. The ten points he scored have helped Schubert Motorsport take a 43-point lead in the team standings into the final two races.

 

After a disappointing qualifying session, van der Linde started Saturday’s race from 16th place, finishing just outside the points in eleventh position. However, he exceeded track limits too many times during his chasing performance, receiving a nine-place grid penalty for Sunday's race. This saw him starting 15th after reaching sixth place in qualifying. He then proceeded to spin on the wet surface on lap one, putting him dead last. He was able to catch up very quickly in the closing phase, by using slicks as the surface dried out, but eleventh place was the best he could do.

 

His Schubert team-mate Eng, who had finished twelfth on Saturday, produced a convincing performance in heavy rain to finish fifth in qualifying. He made a good start to the race and was on course for a podium finish for some time. However, his wet-weather tyres deteriorated too rapidly as the track dried out during the closing laps and he dropped back from third to fifth.

 

Marco Wittmann (GER) did not manage to reach the top ten in either race in his #11 BMW M4 GT3 from Walkenhorst Motorsport. He struggled due to the fact that he was unable to secure a good grid position in either qualifying session. The two-time DTM champion finished the races in 14th and 12th positions. He was in fifth place for a while on Sunday, but like Eng he then lost ground due to the wet-weather tyres on the final laps. Leon Köhler (GER) was at the wheel of the #10 BMW M4 GT3 this weekend, replacing the ill Esteban Muth (BEL). He performed very well on his debut in the BMW M4 GT3 and finished 13th on Sunday, right behind Wittmann. He retired from Saturday’s race after a good display.

 

The season finale in Hockenheim, where all the titles will be decided, will take place on 8th/9th October.

 

Reactions to the DTM weekend at the Red Bull Ring.

 

Sheldon van der Linde (#31 BMW M4 GT3, Schubert Motorsport): “We did not do a good job this weekend. My track limits penalty from Saturday knocked us back on Sunday, and then I made that error on lap one. The deficit was simply too large for us to finish in the points. However, all is not lost. I am still in the lead in the drivers’ championship. Now Hockenheim will be decisive and I really believe in my team and in myself - and I believe that we can do it.”

 

Philipp Eng (#25 BMW M4 GT3, Schubert Motorsport): “We managed to turn things around well after some difficulties on Saturday. We coped really well with the very wet conditions on Sunday – it helped that we had done testing here and were well prepared. The race started superbly and I got to third place quickly. Once the circuit started to dry out slowly, I no longer had the pace that I needed to reach the podium in the end. It is disappointing that it didn't work out, as it would have been fantastic to be on the podium in my home race. However, the team did a good job.”

 

Marco Wittmann (#11 BMW M4 GT3, Walkenhorst Motorsport): “Unfortunately, that was a weekend where nothing went right for us. That is extremely disappointing. If you don't hit the mark in qualifying and have to start all the way back there, it is just unbelievably difficult to make progress in the race. On Sunday, things were looking better for a while in fifth place but, to be honest, our strategy was all wrong. Going with wet-weather tyres finished us on those last laps, and slicks would have been the right choice for the closing phase. Things have been going wrong for the last three race weekends. We don’t get the luck during the races, but we have to be frank and admit that we are making strategic mistakes. With conditions like they were on Sunday, the right tactics can make a huge difference. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out. Now I am hoping to round off the season in a positive manner in Hockenheim.”

 

Leon Köhler (#10 BMW M4 GT3, Walkenhorst Motorsport): “Overall, that was a very positive weekend for me. When you consider that I took the wheel of the BMW M4 GT3 for the first time in Friday's practice session, I can be very pleased with that. It was my dream to drive in the DTM just once. So, I was speechless when I heard that Walkenhorst Motorsport was giving me this chance. I think I produced a good performance. Now we’ll see what the future brings.”

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