Sheldon van der Linde is the new DTM champion! As the first South African, the 23-year-old won the title in the long-standing series with the BMW M4 run by Schubert Motorsport. In the thrilling finale, DTM Hockenheimring powered by AUDI, third place was enough for Sheldon van der Linde to seal his outstanding triumph. BMW had a double reason to celebrate as two-time champion Marco Wittmann (GER) scored his 18th DTM career win with the Walkenhorst BMW. René Rast (GER) finished second with the ABT Audi, but that didn’t suffice for the German to seal his fourth DTM title. Austrian Lucas Auer, who was just two points down on van der Linde going into the race, finished seventh with the WINWARD Mercedes-AMG and secured runner-up spot in the drivers’ standings ahead of Rast as a result. Sheldon van der Linde is the successor of Maximilian Götz (GER), who had won last year’s title at Norisring for Mercedes-AMG.
The freshly-crowned champion was overwhelmed with congratulations at the finish, from his parents, his brother Kelvin, who finished fifth behind Marius Zug (GER, Attempto Audi) and was in contention for the title in 2021 himself, his manager Dennis Rostek and of course his team Schubert Motorsport. On Sunday, Sheldon competed in his 68th DTM race since his series’ debut in 2019. The BMW works driver has scored four race wins and four pole positions so far. Gerhard Berger congratulated as well: “Congratulations to Sheldon van der Linde, who, with his consistent, impressive achievements is a worthy 2022 DTM champion. But at this stage also congratulations to runner-up Lucas Auer, his team and Mercedes-AMG who were also battling for the title until the end in a fair way and with great manoeuvres. Sheldon and Lucas, like all the other DTM drivers, have delivered an outstanding, highly exciting season that has delighted us and all the many fans at the race tracks and in front of the screens. Congratulations also to Schubert Motorsport, the new teams’ champions, and to Audi as the new manufacturers’ champions. We had a great final race with perfect conditions and so unbelievably many fans at the race track, I am touched.”
“In 2016, I came from South Africa to Germany as a young lad to become a professional racing driver. That was my dream when I still was a kid. Now standing here as the DTM champion is just simply unbelievably,” a visibly moved Sheldon van der Linde said after the race. René Rast was satisfied, too: “I have always been in the top three, so on the podium, in each of my five seasons in DTM,” the three-time DTM champion said. Marco Wittmann’s verdict was similar: “Concluding a difficult season with a victory is just super good.”
In its maiden season in DTM, Schubert Motorsport from Oschersleben with the two BMW works drivers Sheldon van der Linde and Philipp Eng (AUT) won the title as the most successful team and therefore became the successor of Red Bull AlphaTauri AF Corse. “That is the reward for the hard work this year. I am glad that it has all paid off,” team principal Torsten Schubert commented. In the 36th DTM season, a BMW driver won the title for the seventh time, the last driver to date to win the big trophy for the white-and-blue brand was Marco Wittmann in 2014 and 2016. Audi followed on Mercedes-AMG as the new manufacturers’ champion.
Sheldon van der Linde, Lucas Auer, René Rast: prior to the 16th and final race of the 2022 DTM, there was an entertaining three-way battle for the title. In qualifying, Mirko Bortolotti (ITA, GRT Lamborghini) had dropped out of the circle of the title contenders with 18th place on the grid. As Felipe Fraga (BRA, Red Bull AF Corse Ferrari) had crashed into the barriers, he gifted Rast his fourth pole position of the season and three valuable points. Fraga was missing on the starting grid of the decisive race, just like those involved in the accidents in the spectacular Saturday race including Thomas Preining, Dennis Olsen, Rolf Ineichen and David Schumacher, who all had been able to leave the hospital following examination in the evening.
For Rast, just like for sixth-placed Nico Müller (SUI, Team Rosberg), it was the final race start with the Audi R8 as both drivers are leaving the Ingolstadt-based brand after many successful years. Moreover, Maximilian Buhk (Mercedes-AMG Team Mücke Motorsport) had announced in the morning that he would end his career at 29 years. With a strong performance, the youngest driver in the field at 19 years, Marius Zug with the Attempto Audi, finished fourth in the race. Austrian Clemens Schmid was running third for a long time with the GRT Lamborghini until a puncture blew his hopes of a podium result.