Kelvin van der Linde and Ricardo Feller were again the fastest Audi drivers by far at the Sachsenring. After the first qualifying session on Saturday, both drivers were each demoted by five grid positions because they had each received three reprimands during the season. From the eighth and twelfth positions on the grid, the ABT duo fought their way up to fourth and fifth in the first race, also thanks to good strategy, quick pit stops and mistakes made by their competition.
On Sunday, the gap to the top was even greater than the previous day. Ricardo Feller was more than half a second off of pole position in fifth place – an unusually large gap in the DTM. An early pit stop brought the young Swiss forward to third place in the race. However, the team’s joy about the podium did not last long: a subsequent 5-second penalty dropped Feller from third to sixth place.
Kelvin van der Linde had to complete three so-called “penalty laps” early on Sunday due to contact in the hectic start phase of the race. From last place, the South African, who lives near Kempten, still fought his way into the points, finishing in 13th place.
“Saturday was actually a good day,” said van der Linde. “Without losing the grid positions, we probably would have finished on the podium. On Sunday, I still fought my way into the points from the very back after the penalty laps and at least scored two more points. But of course, I expected more this weekend.”
Ricardo Feller collected a total of 23 points at the Sachsenring, but was still disappointed. “Before the weekend, I would have thought we were among the favourites here, but that was not the case at all,” said the Swiss. “Some manufacturers were much faster and were able to manage their pace. On Sunday, I couldn’t even get past Luca Stolz, even though he had 20 kilograms of extra weight.”
The ABT driver has a clear opinion on the controversial situation on lap 17, which led to the retrospective time penalty on Sunday: “For me, that was a normal racing accident for which nobody is fully to blame. Jack came out of the pits on cold tyres, I already had warm tyres. He had already made contact with Luca (Stolz). This opened up a gap, which I took advantage of. He defended himself aggressively and turned in. To be penalised for something like that is incomprehensible to me.”
ABT Motorsport Director Martin Tomczyk saw it the same way: “For me, this penalty is not understandable. This is a way of preventing people from seeing exciting racing in the DTM. That has always been the DNA of the DTM. And it should stay like this. In the title fight, of course, this is a setback. But those who know us know that we never give up – even if we again fought with blunt weapons here. I very much hope that a balanced Balance of Performance will be found for the Red Bull Ring and Hockenheim in order to ensure a fair title fight.”
Despite the setback at the Sachsenring, ABT Sportsline still has a chance of winning both championship titles. In the drivers’ standings, Ricardo Feller is 31 points behind in third place. In the teams’ standings, ABT Sportsline is also 31 points behind in third place.
The DTM season continues at the Red Bull Ring in 14 days’ time.