Schubert Motorsport extends championship lead at the Nürburgring: Sheldon van der Linde scores another win and pole position in the DTM
Game, set and match for Schubert Motorsport at the fifth stop of the 2022 DTM championship. The BMW M Motorsport team kicked off the second half of the season in the prestigious racing series this weekend at the Nürburgring with a victory and a pole position. BMW factory driver Sheldon van der Linde underlined his title ambitions in the Eifel mountains. The 23-year-old South African triumphed in Saturday's race for the third time this season behind the wheel of his BMW M4 GT3. On Sunday, an unfortunate safety car period thwarted a repeat of the feat. BMW teammate Philipp Eng scored valuable points for the team standings with sixth place in the first race.
For the Schubert Motorsport crew, the race weekend on the Nürburgring's 3.629 km long sprint circuit began with classic Eifel weather. On Saturday, qualifying had to be cancelled due to dense fog. The race was started four hours late and the starting grid was determined on the basis of the driver standings. Sheldon van der Linde thus started Saturday's race in second place, while Philipp Eng lined up on the seventh row of the grid.
Dampness and cool temperatures of just 13 degrees Celsius presented the drivers with challenging conditions in the early stages of the race which lasted 55 minutes and one lap. Sheldon van der Linde took advantage of his good starting position and maintained his spot in the leading group after the start. In the midfield, Philipp Eng once again played out his formidable racecraft and made up four positions on the opening lap. On the drying track, the drivers found their rhythm better and better and the Schubert Motorsport pitwall made the right decision on strategy on both sides of the garage.
Philipp Eng got himself a run in clean air with an early pit stop on the tenth lap and moved up to sixth position in the second stint, for which he was rewarded with eight championship points at the finish. At the front, Sheldon van der Linde kept the pressure on the leaders until the pitstop and then showed a tactical race. With ten minutes to go, he benefited from a coming together of his rivals and drove away to his third win of the season, having already scored two victories for Schubert Motorsport at the Lausitzring.
On Sunday, the BMW factory driver continued his strong form. Despite 25 kilograms of success ballast for the victory the day before, he captured his second pole position of the season in qualifying, which was also rewarded with three bonus points. Philipp Eng also secured a promising starting position in sixth place. While Sheldon van der Linde held on to his lead at the start, the 32-year-old Austrian surged into second position with a brilliant first lap, giving Schubert Motorsport a double lead. However, the path to the double victory was blocked a little later by a safety car period.
During the full course yellow, the pit crew at first could only change Sheldon van der Linde's tyres, as the regulations do not allow a second car to queue up in the pit area. Philipp Eng had to complete another lap as a result and dropped back to 17th position for the restart. The situation also had a negative effect on Sheldon van der Linde. He slipped back to fifth place. Immediately after the restart, Eng was involved in a collision through no fault of his own and had to park his car early. Van der Linde struggled fighting in the pack due to the success ballast on board and secured two valuable points in ninth place.
With three events still to go, Schubert Motorsport leads the team championship by 21 points. In the driver standings, Sheldon van der Linde is 21 points clear as well. Philipp Eng occupies 15th place. The next round of the DTM is scheduled for Torsten Schubert's squad from 9 to 11 September at the Formula 1 circuit of Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium.
Sheldon van der Linde (RSA)
BMW M4 GT3 - #31
Grid 1: P2 - Race 1: P1
Grid 2: P1 - Race 2: P9
Sheldon van der Linde: "I am very pleased with this weekend! I hadn't expected to be able to score so many points at the Nürburgring. Many thanks to the Schubert team for doing such a superb job. I was absolutely speechless after that one-two result on Saturday for me and my brother Kelvin. We had always been aiming to reach the podium together one day. This dream came true on Saturday. I am now approaching the next race weekends with confidence, in first place in the drivers’ standings."
Philipp Eng (AUT)
BMW M4 GT3 - #25
Grid 1: P14 - Race 1: P6
Grid 2: P6 - Race 2: DNF
Philipp Eng: "The car was very good for the whole weekend. On Saturday, I had to start from 14th without any qualifying session, but the balance of the car was perfect and I was able to move up to sixth place. That does not happen as a matter of course in such a strong field and it was a lot of fun, with some tough but fair duels. Qualifying went well on Sunday and I was then in second place in the race, right behind Sheldon. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to pass him and I was in the safety car period for the second pit stop slot, when only one car from each team is allowed to come in. That put me at a massive disadvantage and cost me a lot of positions. Luck was just not on our side this time."
Team Manager Marcel Schmidt: "We leave the Nürburgring with one eye laughing and one eye crying. The team and the drivers really did a flawless job, which we can all be very proud of. Our BMW M4 GT3 was fast and we made the right decision in every situation. Victory on Saturday was the well-deserved reward for this impeccable performance. On Sunday, we could have gone one better. Sheldon was phenomenal in qualifying and the start from Phillip was fantastic. Unfortunately, we were set back by the safety car period with both cars. Sheldon lost a few positions in the pits and Phillip was forced to do an extra lap, which led to him dropping back even further. That was very unlucky and we are disappointed with the outcome of the race. On the other hand, we have nothing to blame ourselves for. The team did everything right and we leave the Eifel with this good feeling."