Assen DTM: Lawson pips Wittmann to Saturday pole

Red Bull Formula 1 protege Liam Lawson claimed his second pole position of the 2021 DTM season at Assen, edging the BMW of Marco Wittmann by just 0.016s in Saturday qualifying.

AF Corse driver Lawson set the first benchmark of the session with a 1m32.584s, before Maximilian Gotz posted a 1m32.563s in the HRT Mercedes to snatch the top spot away from the Kiwi.

Lawson responded with a 1m32.168s and that laptime proved to be just enough to claim a second pole in the last three qualifying sessions, with none of his rivals able to match his time in the second run.

The 19-year-old was, in fact going, even quicker on his final flyer after setting purple times in sectors 1 and 2, but chose to abort the lap once it was clear his previous time would be good enough for the top spot on the grid.

Two-time DTM champion Wittmann was the closest challenger to Lawson in the venerable BMW M6 GT3, posting a time of 1m32.202s to secure a spot on the front row.

Gotz eventually ended up third-quickest after failing to match Lawson in the second runs, finishing 0.121s down on the Kiwi with a time of 1m32.323s.

Philip Ellis was fourth for Team Winward, another 0.027s adrift of his Mercedes stablemate Gotz, while championship leader Kelvin van der Linde qualified as the top Audi driver in fifth.

The Abt Sportsline driver banged wheels with Ellis on his outlap, forcing him to come to the pits for a fresh rear-left tyre with just two minutes left in the session.

Last year’s runner-up Nico Muller enjoyed improved fortunes after a difficult run of races in the lead Team Rosberg Audi entry, securing his best starting position since Zolder in sixth.

Seventh place went to Vincent Abril in the second HRT Mercedes, ahead of Sheldon van der Linde in the Rowe Racing BMW.

The top 10 was rounded out by Mercedes drivers Arjun Maini (GetSpeed) and Maximilian Buhk (Mucke Motorsport).

Several drivers lost their best laps to track limits infringement right at the end of the session, dropping to the second half of the grid.

Ex-F1 driver Christian Klien had originally qualified fifth on his final race weekend with the JP Motorsport McLaren team, but he was eventually demoted to 16th place. Red Bull’s Alex Albon likewise dropped from sixth to 14th, while factory Lamborghini driver Mirko Bortolotti slipped to 12th.

Bortolotti, however, did beat his T3 Motorsport teammates on his guest appearance, with Esteban Muth and Esmee Hawkey finishing only 18th and 20th in their Huracan GT3s.

Qualifying was red-flagged with under six minutes left on the clock when Dev Gore crashed at the exit of Turn 7, suffering damage to the right-rear side of his Team Rosberg Audi.

Qualifying results:

Cla # Driver Car Time Gap
1 30 New Zealand Liam Lawson
Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 1'32.186
2 11 Germany Marco Wittmann
BMW M6 GT3 1'32.202 0.016
3 4 Germany Maximilian Götz
Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 1'32.323 0.137
4 57 United Kingdom Philip Ellis
Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 1'32.350 0.164
5 3 South Africa Kelvin van der Linde
Audi R8 LMS Evo 1'32.444 0.258
6 51 Switzerland Nico Müller
Audi R8 LMS Evo 1'32.487 0.301
7 5 France Vincent Abril
Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 1'32.553 0.367
8 31 South Africa Sheldon Van Der Linde
BMW M6 GT3 1'32.561 0.375
9 36 India Arjun Maini
Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 1'32.598 0.412
10 18 Germany Maximilian Buhk
Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 1'32.651 0.465
11 8 Spain Daniel Juncadella
Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 1'32.663 0.477
12 63 Italy Mirko Bortolotti
Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo 1'32.700 0.514
13 22 Austria Lucas Auer
Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 1'32.720 0.534
14 23 Thailand Alex Albon
Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 1'32.740 0.554
15 9 Germany Mike Rockenfeller
Audi R8 LMS Evo 1'32.865 0.679
16 15 Austria Christian Klien
McLaren 720S GT3 1'32.879 0.693
17 16 Germany Timo Glock
BMW M6 GT3 1'33.157 0.971
18 10 Belgium Esteban Muth
BMW M6 GT3 1'33.398 1.212
19 99 Germany Sophia Flörsch
Audi R8 LMS Evo 1'33.450 1.264
20 26 United Kingdom Esmee Hawkey
Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo 1'33.772 1.586
21 12 United States Dev Gore
Audi R8 LMS Evo 1'33.914 1.728
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