Zolder DTM: Van der Linde puts Audi on pole in first qualifying

DTM points leader Kelvin van der Linde claimed Audi’s second pole position of the 2021 season in a tightly-contested first qualifying at Zolder.

Zolder DTM: Van der Linde puts Audi on pole in first qualifying

The session was delayed by seven minutes to allow the track to dry out completely, although some wet patches were still visible when the pitlane was opened at 10:07am local time.

Rowe Racing BMW driver Timo Glock was the first driver to break the 1m30s barrier as the track continued to evolve, before Team Rosberg’s Nico Muller set the fastest time of the weekend - a 1m27.735s - to put Audi on top.

There was more time to be found in the first runs, with Mike Rockenfeller lapping the Belgian circuit in 1m27.548s to lead his Abt Sportsline Audi teammate Kelvin van der Linde.

When the drivers returned on track for the final five minutes of the session the track had dried out further, paving the way for more late improvements.

Rockenfeller improved on his own benchmark to strengthen his position, before Sheldon van der Linde snatched the top spot in the second of the Rowe Racing BMWs with a 1m27.499s.

HRT Mercedes driver Maxi Gotz then moved the goalposts further, a 1m27.054s moving him nearly half a second clear of the rest of the field.

However, that time didn’t prove to be enough for pole, with Kelvin van der Linde outpacing him by just 0.021s to top qualifying for the second time this year.

Two-time DTM champion Marco Wittmann enjoyed his best qualifying finish of the 2021 season, ending up just over a tenth off the pace in third position behind Gotz.

Red Bull Formula 1 reserve Alex Albon likewise put together his best one-lap performance of the year, a 1m27.225s putting him on the outside of the second row.

Gotz’s teammate Vincent Abril qualified another 0.035s adrift in fifth position, while Rockenfeller slipped to sixth in the final classification despite improving to a1m27.256s with a late flyer.

Lausitzring Race 1 winner Philip Ellis (Winward Mercedes) and T3 Motorsport driver Esteban Muth will share the fourth row of the grid, the latter running a special art livery on his Lamborghini designed by Princess Delphine of Belgium.

Muller ended up ninth in the best of the Team Rosberg Audis with an identical time to Muth, while Liam Lawson could manage only 10th in the second of the two AF Corse Ferraris. 

Ex-F1 driver and Christian Klien qualified over a second off the pace on McLaren’s debut in the DTM, despite a BoP boost handed to the sole JP Motorsport entry after the first practice on Friday.

The field was propped up by Glock, the 39-year-old classified 20th and last with a time of 1m28.529s.

Update: Albon has been hit with a five-place grid penalty for speeding under a red flag in Friday practice

Zolder DTM - First qualifying results:

Cla # Driver Car Time Gap
1 3 South Africa Kelvin van der Linde
Audi R8 LMS Evo 1'27.054
2 4 Germany Maximilian Götz
Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 1'27.075 0.021
3 11 Germany Marco Wittmann
BMW M6 GT3 1'27.190 0.136
4 23 Thailand Alex Albon
Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 1'27.225 0.171
5 5 France Vincent Abril
Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 1'27.244 0.190
6 9 Germany Mike Rockenfeller
Audi R8 LMS Evo 1'27.256 0.202
7 57 United Kingdom Philip Ellis
Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 1'27.272 0.218
8 10 Belgium Esteban Muth
Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo 1'27.340 0.286
9 51 Switzerland Nico Müller
Audi R8 LMS Evo 1'27.340 0.286
10 30 New Zealand Liam Lawson
Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 1'27.385 0.331
11 31 South Africa Sheldon Van Der Linde
BMW M6 GT3 1'27.392 0.338
12 22 Austria Lucas Auer
Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 1'27.436 0.382
13 18 Germany Maximilian Buhk
Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 1'27.646 0.592
14 8 Spain Daniel Juncadella
Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 1'27.688 0.634
15 36 India Arjun Maini
Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 1'27.838 0.784
16 15 Austria Christian Klien
McLaren 720S GT3 1'28.191 1.137
17 12 United States Dev Gore
Audi R8 LMS Evo 1'28.374 1.320
18 26 United Kingdom Esmee Hawkey
Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo 1'28.477 1.423
19 99 Germany Sophia Flörsch
Audi R8 LMS Evo 1'28.482 1.428
20 16 Germany Timo Glock
BMW M6 GT3 1'28.529 1.475
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