Marco Wittmann has taken victory in the Saturday DTM race at Assen while Liam Lawson seized the points lead with a podium finish following drama for Kelvin van der Linde.
Wittmann took his second race victory in strong style in a dramatic and incident-filled race. The German was one of several drivers that was caught up in a bizarre collision at the start when he and polesitter Lawson appeared to be slow off the line, causing the rest of the field to check up behind.
This caused several collisions and immediately ended the race for Arjun Maini, Daniel Juncadella and Vincent Abril.
After that, Wittmann fell in behind title rivals Lawson, Maximilian Götz and Kelvin van der Linde, as well as GT3 star Mirko Bortolotti making a one-off appearance for T3 Motorsports.
The race then took a turn when a safety car made a brief appearance for debris out on the circuit, which completely caught out the Abt Sportsline pair of Van der Linde and Mike Rockenfeller, who were the only drivers yet to pit. They would make their stops later and plummeted down the order dealing Van der Linde’s championship hopes a massive blow.
After the restart, Wittmann charged his way up to the front with forceful passes on both Lawson and Götz, earning a five-second penalty for contact with Lawson. However, after passing the yet-to-stop Rockenfeller, the BMW rocketed clear as Lawson struggled to pass the Audi and remained sufficiently clear to take the race win.
Lawson eventually also conceded second place to a charging Bortolotti, but with guest drivers not scoring points, it was enough for the Red Bull AF Corse driver to retake the lead in the championship.
Götz came home in fourth, ahead of Christian Klien, Sheldon van der Linde, Philip Ellis, Esteban Muth and Sophia Floersch.
Disaster for Van der Linde
Kelvin van der Linde came in to the weekend at the Dutch MotoGP venue the points leader, but lost the championship lead due to the safety car.
He and team-mate Mike Rockenfeller stayed out far longer than other drivers and were running one-two until the safety car.
Since pitstops under safety car do not count towards the mandatory pitstop, the South African driver saw his fortunes completely change.
After the restart, Rockenfeller attempted to hold up the charging pack for as long as possible while Van der Linde attempted to build a gap, but it was not enough.
Eventually, both drivers had to pit and Van der Linde eventually scored only a single point with a tenth-placed finish.
As a result, Lawson now leads the standings by eight points over Van der Linde, while Wittmann’s race victory puts him level with the South African in the championship standings.
Bortolotti’s strong showing
Mirko Bortolotti delivered Lamborghini its first podium in DTM history with a strong showing as a guest driver.
The Italian started third and made his mark early on by passing Lawson for the race lead. He fell back after the pitstops as he was surpassed by Götz and Lawson but remained in contention throughout.
In the later stages of the race, he continuously pressured Lawson in the battle for second place and attempted several maneouvres to try and take the position, but Lawson defended fiercely.
Eventually, the Italian took Lawson up the inside, sealing second place and a podium on his DTM debut.