Assen DTM: Wittmann wins for BMW, Lawson takes points lead

Factory BMW driver Marco Wittmann clinched his second victory of the 2021 season at Assen, as Liam Lawson snatched the points lead following a nightmare race for Kelvin van der Linde.

Walkenhorst's Wittmann had dropped to fifth place after a slow pitstop on lap nine, but he charged his way through the field to win from Lamborghini's Mirko Bortolotti, overcoming a five-second penalty for an incident involving Lawson.

An ill-timed safety car for Audi GT3 ace van der Linde left him 12th at the finish, costing him a championship lead he had held since the opening round of the season at Monza.

Story of the race

At the start of the race, Red Bull junior Lawson pulled away cleanly from pole position to take the lead into Turn 1, while guest driver Bortolotti emerged ahead in a three-way fight with Wittmann and Maximilian Gotz to take second.

A safety car was deployed soon after for a startline crash involving multiple drivers, which GruppeM’s Daniel Juncadella claimed was caused by Lawson bunching up the field well after the green light had been shown.

When the action finally resumed on lap 5, T3 Motorsport's Bortolotti was right on the tail of Lawson, who was hamstrung by 25kg of ballast on his AF Corse Ferrari.

After several failed attempts, Bortolotti finally made a move stick on the Red Bull junior at Turn 6 on the sixth lap of the race, putting Lamborghini in prime position for a maiden win in the series.

But a first win went begging when Gotz managed to execute an impressive undercut by pitting at the first opportunity on lap 6, jumping from fourth to first when all pitstops were settled.

Bortolotti held second place at this stage ahead of Lawson, with Philip Ellis Ellis in fourth from Wittmann.

The complexion of the race changed yet again when the safety car was called in for a second time on lap 15 to remove debris on track.

This brought Wittmann back into play, who had lost a chunk of time in the pits due to a slow stop. The German driver quickly cleared Ellis and Bortolotti at the restart and then set about chasing Lawson and Gotz for the net lead of the race.

On lap 20, he muscled his way past Lawson at Turn 8, with the Ferrari driver running wide over the gravel, before executing a similar move on Gotz a few laps later to move up to first.

The race control handed Wittmann a five-second penalty for allegedly making contact with Lawson, but he was able to build a gap of over eight seconds to add to his victory from Zolder last month.

Bortolotti recovered from a slow restart to finish second and secure a maiden podium for Lamborghini in the DTM, having passed Lawson for a second time with two laps left in the race.

Third place, however, was enough for Lawson to claim the championship lead on a difficult day for his title rival van der Linde.

The Abt Sportsline driver was on a reverse strategy, going long in the first stint to run in clear air even as the undercut proved to be extremely powerful at Assen.

But he was caught out when the safety car was deployed for a second time, wiping the time he had gained in the first stint. He finally made his pitstop with three laps to run in the race, dropping to 12th position.

Lawson now leads the championship on 156 points, with van der Linde and Wittmann tied on 148 points and Gotz - who slipped to fourth at the finish - a further point adrift and very much in the mix.

Behind the leading quartet, fifth place in the race went to ex-Formula 1 driver Christian Klien, who enjoyed his best finish of the season in a guest McLaren entry run by JP Motorsport.

Sheldon van der Linde was classified sixth in the sole surviving Rowe Racing BMW, ahead of Ellis’ Winward Mercedes and the second T3 Motorsport Lamborghini of Esteban Muth.

Sophia Floersch bagged her first points in the DTM in a race that saw only 13 finishers - with several drivers eliminated as a result of the startline incident - finishing ninth ahead of the Winward Mercedes of Lucas Auer in the Abt Sportsline Audi.

Esmee Hawkey (T3 Motorsport), Kelvin van der Linde and the latter’s teammate Rockenfeller completed the list of classified finishers.

Race results:

Cla # Driver Car Gap
1 11 Germany Marco Wittmann
2 63 Italy Mirko Bortolotti
Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo 3.100
3 30 New Zealand Liam Lawson
Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 4.336
4 4 Germany Maximilian Götz
Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 5.028
5 15 Austria Christian Klien
McLaren 720S GT3 5.528
6 31 South Africa Sheldon Van Der Linde
BMW M6 GT3 6.176
7 57 United Kingdom Philip Ellis
Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 6.802
8 10 Belgium Esteban Muth
BMW M6 GT3 7.969
9 99 Germany Sophia Flörsch
Audi R8 LMS Evo 11.147
10 22 Austria Lucas Auer
Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 12.615
11 26 United Kingdom Esmee Hawkey
Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo 16.929
12 3 South Africa Kelvin van der Linde
Audi R8 LMS Evo 31.763
13 9 Germany Mike Rockenfeller
Audi R8 LMS Evo 43.062
18 Germany Maximilian Buhk
Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 18 Laps
51 Switzerland Nico Müller
Audi R8 LMS Evo 22 Laps
23 Thailand Alex Albon
Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 24 Laps
16 Germany Timo Glock
BMW M6 GT3 28 Laps
36 India Arjun Maini
Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 34 Laps
5 France Vincent Abril
Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 34 Laps
8 Spain Daniel Juncadella
Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo
How Audi's new DTM flagbearer is closing on his "childhood dream"
Previous article

How Audi's new DTM flagbearer is closing on his "childhood dream"

Next article

Assen DTM: Mercedes' Auer scores first pole since 2018

Assen DTM: Mercedes' Auer scores first pole since 2018
Load comments
How the DTM's shambolic finale poses awkward future questions Prime

How the DTM's shambolic finale poses awkward future questions

OPINION: The scenes at the Norisring as Mercedes used blatant team orders to secure the first DTM title of the new GT3 era totally undermined the credibility of the championship. But as well as overshadowing the season, it also presents uncomfortable questions to series bosses about the direction it is headed in.

Oct 12, 2021
How Audi's new DTM flagbearer is closing on his "childhood dream" Prime

How Audi's new DTM flagbearer is closing on his "childhood dream"

Having learned the ropes in GT3 alongside Rene Rast, Kelvin van der Linde is in line to take up the three-time champion's baton as Audi's new DTM king. From humble origins in South Africa, it's been a remarkable journey so far for the current series leader, but he knows that the 2021 title is a long way from settled just yet.

Sep 18, 2021
The number-crunching behind the new-look DTM's equalisation drive Prime

The number-crunching behind the new-look DTM's equalisation drive

Switching to GT3 regulations marked a fresh start for the DTM in 2021, but it has also drawn a line in the sand against other series using similar cars by engaging AVL Racing to develop a bespoke Balance of Performance system. Here’s how it works.

Jul 23, 2021
The initial verdict on DTM's move to GT3 cars Prime

The initial verdict on DTM's move to GT3 cars

OPINION: Facing collapse last year, the DTM has shifted its philosophy from a championship for silhouette-based touring cars to GT machines not too dissimilar to those racing across multiple series worldwide. But despite some initial BoP-based teething troubles, there were some pleasant findings as the 'new DTM' got underway at Monza

Jun 22, 2021
Why Albon has his work cut out in the new-look DTM Prime

Why Albon has his work cut out in the new-look DTM

The DTM moves into its bold new GT3 era with welcome support from Red Bull, which enters two AF Corse-run Ferraris. That includes one for ex-F1 driver Alex Albon, who’s determined to make a success of his GT switch

Jun 17, 2021
The slow-burner threatening to unseat Audi's DTM king Prime

The slow-burner threatening to unseat Audi's DTM king

It's taken him a while to emerge as a consistent title challenger, but in the final year of DTM's Class One ruleset, Nico Muller has smoothed the rough edges and has double champion stablemate Rene Rast working harder than ever to keep up in the title race.

Oct 14, 2020
Does 2000 hold the answers to the DTM's current crisis? Prime

Does 2000 hold the answers to the DTM's current crisis?

It's 20 years since the DTM roared back into life at a packed Hockenheim with a back-to-basics approach as the antidote to its high-tech past. Now it's on its knees again, so is it time to recall the lessons learned in 2000?

May 28, 2020
Ranking the 10 best Audi DTM drivers Prime

Ranking the 10 best Audi DTM drivers

Audi last week announced it would be exiting the DTM at the end of 2020, bringing the curtain down on 20 years of continuous participation since the series' reboot in 2000.

May 5, 2020