Lausitzring DTM: Ellis scores Mercedes’ first win since return
At the start of the race, Sheldon van der Linde made a clean getaway from pole position in the Rowe Racing BMW, leading the Abt Sportsline Audi of elder brother Kelvin van der Linde as Lamborghini driver Esteban Muth and Red Bull junior Liam Lawson battled over third position.
The safety car was deployed just three laps into the race when Esmee Hawkey crashed heavily into the concrete wall at the banked Turn 1, sustaining heavy damage to her T3 Motorsport Lamborghini.
When the action resumed, Winward driver Ellis was on the move, laying the foundation to his first win in the DTM.
Having already moved from ninth to fifth in the opening laps, the Swiss driver took the inside line into the banked Turn 1 to pass both Muth and Mike Rockenfeller in one move and then overtake Kelvin van der Linde under braking for Turn 2.
After the mandatory round of pitstops, Sheldon van der Linde appeared to lose pace, allowing Ellis to come through and take the lead heading into the opening turn on lap 20.
Lawson, who had recovered from a difficult opening few laps with a rapid pitstop in the AF Corse Ferrari, also managed to pass van der Linde to move up to second, setting up a two-way fight for victory.
The 19-year-old initially kept Ellis honest as they circulated at the head of the pack, but the Mercedes driver managed to pull clear soon after to take his maiden victory in the series.
It also marked the Stuttgart-based manufacturer’s first win in the DTM since it returned to the championship this season to coincide with its switch to GT3 regulations.
Behind Ellis and Lawson, Sheldon van der Linde managed to fend off 2013 champion Mike Rockenfeller to finish third on the road, but a five-second penalty for a pitstop infringement dropped him down to ninth.
That elevated Abt driver Rockenfeller to the final spot on the podium, the German driver leading his teammate Kelvin van der Linde, who lost several places during the pitstop cycle and could only manage fourth at the flag.
Red Bull driver Alex Albon, who was retroactively promoted to a podium spot in Monza following the disqualification of Mercedes driver Vincent Abril, was classified fifth in the second of the AF Corse Ferraris.
Ellis’ teammate Lucas Auer ended up sixth ahead of two-time DTM champion Marco Wittmann (Walkenhorst BMW), with T3 Motorsport driver Muth slipping to eighth at the flag.
A mid-race pass over Rowe Racing’s Timo Glock ensured Mucke Motorsport Mercedes driver Maximilian Buhk picked the final point in 10th behind Sheldon van der Linde.
Last year’s runner up Nico Muller (Team Rosberg Audi) was unable to recover from his poor qualifying effort and was the last of the classified finishers in 13th after making a late pitstop two laps from the finish.
There were six retirees from the race, as several Mercedes runners were hit with technical issues.