Who else should stop Sheldon van der Linde?

Who else should stop Sheldon van der Linde?

Who else should stop Sheldon van der Linde on his way to winning the 2022 DTM championship? The BMW works driver from Schubert Motorsport could theoretically even take the title as early as next race weekend at the Red Bull Ring (September 23-25)!

It will be the fifth time since 2010 that a driver has won the DTM championship prematurely. Martin Tomczyk (2011, Audi), Mike Rockenfeller (2013, Audi), Marco Wittmann (2014, BMW) and Rene Rast (2019, Audi) managed this task recently.

Van der Linde will travel to Spielberg with 130 points. His lead over his close follower and local hero Lucas Auer (Winward-Mercedes) is a comfortable 32 points. “We are now approaching the final phase,” says the AMG driver from Austria. “It will be chaotic and there will be a lot of emotions involved. I think the championship will be decided in Hockenheim on Sunday.”

DTM 2022 table after 12/16 races (top 5)

space the driver the team Points
1 Sheldon van der Linde Schubert BMW 130
2 Lucas Auer Winward Mercedes 98
3 René Rast Abbot Audi 96
4 Mirko Bortolotti GRT Lamborghini 94
5 Dennis Olsen SSR Porsche 87

Introduction: “Van der Linde is too far…”

With 116 points still up for grabs at the Red Bull Ring and in the season finale at Hockenheim (October 7-9), the South African will have to extend his lead to 59 points to stay out of reach in the final.

Van der Linde has already declared that “crazy tricks don’t make any sense”, in other words: With his BMW M4 GT3, the seemingly grown-up 23-year-old will certainly not pull the trigger for victory. He did so recently at Spa-Francorchamps, where an attack on eventual winner Nick Cassidy in the AF Corse Ferrari would have involved a serious risk. Instead, van der Linde preferred to carry 18 points safe for second place.

“Van der Linde is so far away that, really, not much will happen unless he has a bad weekend,” said Thomas Preining, who finished seventh in the championship and works Porsche driver, after the last two races ended in Motorsport – Magazine. .com . “The Red Bull Ring is a BMW track, the car will do well there.”

Schubert-BMW: Back to the place of success

He has already proved three times this season that van der Linde is capable of winning at any time – no other driver in the nearly 30-car field has so far managed to claim more than one win. Van der Linde laid the foundation for the title fight with his double victory at the Lausitzring in May this year, followed by another win at the Nürburgring.

Remarkable: At the same time as van der Linde’s Lausitz play, his Schubert team gave a similar and successful performance elsewhere. Surprisingly, at the Red Bull Ring – the next DTM stop – the team led by team boss Torsten Schubert won twice in the ADAC GT Masters. It was the most successful weekend in the more than 20-year history of the racing team from Oschersleben.

DTM hunts Sheldon van der Linde's Schubert-BMW, ​​Photo: DTM
DTM hunts Sheldon van der Linde’s Schubert-BMW, ​​Photo: DTM

The victory in the GT Masters was clear proof that Spielberg remains fully BMW country even under the new M4 GT3: The car manufacturer from Munich has won five of the ten ADAC GT Masters races on the Alpine circuit since 2018. In the DTM last year, Marco Wittmann drove his ROWE-M6 from pole position to second place behind the powerful Ferrari of Liam Lawson on Sunday.

“On paper, the Red Bull Ring should suit our car,” said van der Linde, who is competing in his fourth DTM season with BMW. “That helps and now at the end of the day it’s important to weigh the risk and reward.” In addition to the BMW, the Ferrari 488 GT3, also powered by a turbo engine and fitted with AF-Corse, is the most powerful car on the 4.318 km Grand Prix circuit.

The Abt-Audi feud: last year without a chance at Spielberg

At the same time, the Audi Abt Sportsline customer team did not have high hopes early on. Not without reason, because all Evo versions of the Audi R8 LMS GT3 have been struggling in Spielberg for years. And three-time DTM champion Rene Rast, Abte has a hot iron in the fire: The future BMW driver and McLaren works is third overall with 96 points.

“We are looking forward to going there, although we know it will be very difficult there with our car,” Abt team boss Thomas Biermaier said. “We saw that last year when we didn’t have a chance.”

Title Contender Bortolotti: “Is it still mathematically possible?”

There is a question mark over the performance of the Lamborghini Huracan GT3, in which the GRT Team from Knittelfeld competes in its home competition. Fourth place in the championship, Mirko Bortolotti has already won the Spielberg race with Lambo. Despite two poor final race weekends at the Nürburgring and Spa, he is ‘only’ 36 points behind van der Linde. Remarkable: Places two through ten in the DTM standings are separated by just 28 points.

“Is it still mathematically possible? Then you gave yourself the answer,” said Bortolotti, who lives in Vienna, at the DTM press conference when asked if he still believed in winning the title. “We have to deliver as a package, that’s the main goal. If we can’t do that, there’s no point in wasting time looking at what the opponents are doing.”