Pole-sitter Kelvin van der Linde claimed a lights-to-flag victory in round two of the 2021 DTM season at Monza driving for the Abt Sportsline Audi squad.
Van der Linde held firm against a challenge from Saturday race winner Liam Lawson into Turn 1 at the start, before establishing breathing room at the head of the field.
Lawson in his Red Bull-backed Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 soon turned his attention to Nico Mueller, who overtook the New Zealander at the start of the second lap.
Lawson responded by fighting back at the next chicane, but this only enabled ROWE Racing BMW driver Sheldon van der Linde to get a run on the dueling pair before making a terrific pass for second at the first Lesmo.
Mueller re-took Lawson after slipping to fourth, before the Ferrari driver rotated at the second chicane on lap three amid a challenge from Esteban Muth aboard the No. 10 T3 Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo.
Van der Linde’s BMW ran in second behind his older brother’s Audi until the pit stops, with Mueller and Muth applying pressure and Lawson running 20 seconds back in last.
Mueller pitted after seven laps, with Sheldon van der Linde coming in one lap later. The Rosberg Audi drove past the ROWE BMW as it emerged back onto the track, creating a net Audi one-two.
Race leader van der Linde and Muth were the last of the front-runners to pit on nine laps and rejoined in first and seventh respectively.
Lucas Auer, who ran fifth in the opening stint, followed Mueller past Sheldon van der Linde as the BMW exited the pits, and was up to third after Muth’s slower stop.
Mueller took a bite out of van der Linde’s four-second lead but could do nothing to break the leading driver’s momentum. Van der Linde finished 3.3 seconds ahead of the 2020 championship runner-up to clinch his first career DTM victory.
Auer completed the podium for Mercedes-AMG Team Winward, 11 seconds down on van der Linde’s Audi, while Sheldon van der Linde settled for fourth.
Marco Wittmann completed the top five in the Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW after out-braking Winward’s Philip Ellis into the Rettifilio chicane on lap 13.
Ellis took sixth, half a second ahead of AF Corse Ferrari driver Alex Albon who had a further 5.5 seconds in hand to Mike Rockenfeller.
Abt Sportsline Audi driver Rockenfeller claimed eighth with a bold overtake on Muth’s Lamborghini between the two Lesmo right-handers.
Maximilian Goetz completed the top ten after coming under pressure from his Haupt Racing Team teammate Vincent Abril and fellow Mercedes-AMG driver Daniel Juncadella in the closing stages.
Lawson recovered from his early spin to finish 14th, behind Maximilian Buhk’s Muecke Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo.
Dev Gore, Sophia Floersch and Esmee Hawkey completed the list of finishers.
Arjun Maini and Timo Glock were the two retirements from Race 2 after separate contact incidents that resulted in mechanical issues for their cars.
RESULTS: Monza Race 2 (provisional)