Mission Title Defence is ramping up. After finishing as runners-up on Saturday, the Audi R8 LMS pairing of Patric Niederhauser (28, CH) and Kelvin van der Linde (24, ZA, both Rutronik Racing) chalked up their first victory of the season in Race 2 at Hockenheim. Last year’s champions now lead the drivers’ standings for the first time this year. They were followed across the finish line by two other Audis: Max Hofer (21, AUT) and Christopher Haase (32, GER, both Montaplast by Land Motorsport) took second place ahead of Rolf Ineichen (42, CH) and Mirko Bortolotti (30, ITA, both Team WRT) in third. “A mega race and a mega weekend,” was winner Kelvin van der Linde’s happy verdict. “Hockenheim is really starting to become one of my favourite circuits. In the past three years I have won each of the Sunday races here – once with my brother Sheldon and now twice with Patric.”
Key facts, Hockenheimring, Hockenheim, Round 6 of 14
Circuit length: 4,574 metres
Weather: 21°C, sunny
Pole Position: Steijn Schothorst (GRT Grasser Racing Team, Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo), 1:38.193 mins
Winners: Patric Niederhauser and Kelvin van der Linde (Rutronik Racing, Audi R8 LMS)
Fastest lap: Steijn Schothorst (GRT Grasser Racing Team, Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo), 1:40.147 mins
Van der Linde puts in strong first lap
It was a hectic start to Sunday’s race at Hockenheim. Pole-sitter Steijn Schothorst (25, NL, GRT Grasser Racing Team) defended his lead through the initial couple of turns but dropped back to fifth as the lap progressed. South Africa’s Kelvin van der Linde then took his place as the front-runner, after starting out from grid slot six – he had already moved up to P3 by the time he reached the Parabolika. As he approached the hairpin, he pulled out of the slipstream and went by fellow Audi driver Mirko Bortolotti as well as Schothorst to take P1. Haase in his Audi also overtook as he moved into second place from fourth on the grid. Things up front settled down after that. Van der Linde pulled out a small lead on Haase and Bortolotti before finally handing the car over to his Swiss partner Patric Niederhauser at the mandatory pit stop. Niederhauser then controlled the race from the front, widening the gap between himself and the cars behind to more than five seconds at times. He had a 4.3-second lead at the chequered flag. Van der Linde and Niederhauser were thus able to secure their first win of the season and, on 88 points, now lead the overall standings as well.
Also in an Audi, Max Hofer and Christopher Haase came home in second place while P3 went to Rolf Ineichen (42, CH) and Mirko Bortolotti (30, ITA, both Team WRT). For both pairings, it was their first podium of the season in the general classification, while for Ineichen, it was also his third victory in the 2020 Pirelli Trophy class.
Finishing fourth, Indy Dontje (27, NL) and Maximilian Götz (34, GER, both Mann-Filter-Team HTP-Winward) in a Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo achieved their best result of the season so far. In the second stint of the race, they even fought their way past pole-sitters Tim Zimmermann (24, GER) and Steijn Schothorst (25, NL, both GRT Grasser Racing Team), who ultimately had to settle for fifth place. Zimmermann had the consolation of winning the Pirelli Junior classification, as he had done the day before.
Robert Renauer (35, GER) and Sven Müller (28, GER, both Precote Herberth Motorsport) finished sixth in their Porsche 911 GT3 R. Mercedes-AMG drivers Philip Ellis (27, GB) and Raffaele Marciello (25, ITA, both Knaus-Team HTP-Winward) took P7 ahead of Lamborghini works drivers Franck Perera (36, FRA) and Albert Costa Balboa (30, ESP, both GRT Grasser Racing Team). Completing the Top Ten were another Mercedes-AMG with Maro Engel (35, Monte Carlo) and Luca Stolz (25, GER, both Toksport WRT) at the wheel, followed by Kim-Luis Schramm (23, GER) and Christopher Mies (31, GER) in the second Audi R8 LMS fielded by Montaplast by Land Motorsport.
Comments from the winners:
Kelvin van der Linde (Rutronik Racing, Audi R8 LMS): “A solid first lap and having a great car were certainly a big help today. As a team, we are essentially in a good place. We know what we need in terms of pace and, above all, what we have to do to achieve it. Furthermore, we manage to be very consistent from race to race. This is what has made it possible for us to move into the championship lead. We came to Hockenheim almost 30 points behind, so I was not expecting us to be heading for the next race at the Sachsenring as leaders in the general classification.”
Patric Niederhauser (Rutronik Racing, Audi R8 LMS): “We’ve had an incredible weekend with a P1 and a P2. Obviously, it had been our objective to make up ground in the championship. But the fact that we are now top of the table clearly exceeds our expectations. Kelvin laid the foundation for victory with a strong start and first lap. It was then important for me to make sure the driver change went smoothly and that we didn’t lose any time on it. Immediately after the pit stop, I pushed very hard. The car had excellent traction and balance, so we were able to pull out a lead which then had to be managed.”
Source. ADAC GT Masters