Sheldon van der Linde labeled his victory in Saturday’s DTM race at the Lausitzring as “insane”, saying his emotions were difficult to describe after taking his first DTM win since 2020.
The South African ended his lenghty win drought with a controlled, lights-to-flag victory for Schubert Motorsport ahead of Mercedes duo Luca Stolz and Lucas Auer.
With the victory, Van der Linde scores only his second career win in the series. His last victory came at Assen in September 2020, meaning the 23-year-old went 622 days without a win.
He also had not scored a podium since then after a difficult campaign with Rowe Racing last year, where he recorded just six points finishes and retired from seven out of the last ten races.
“It’s insane. I don’t really know what to say, I have no words,” Van der Linde said.
“It almost feels better than my first ever win in Assen two years ago, when I won from the back.
“So it just really shows how much emotion is involved.
I think what makes this win so special is, after all the struggles we had last year where we came so close to a few podiums and always something happened.
“To finally have a good qualifying and race today is obviously a very good feeling.
“Our qualifying was very strong in Portimao as well, but we somehow went backwards in the race, so that was my main focus in the race: to stay there.”
The groundwork for Van der Linde’s victory was laid on the opening lap, when Van der Linde jumped ahead of polesitter Auer and took the lead of the race on the opening lap.
“I managed to get Luggi at the start, I don’t know if he was sleeping or if just got a better jump,” Van der Linde jokingly said.
“Jokes aside it was a good, clean start and I think that was pretty much the key to success today.”
“I have to correct Sheldon – it was the best reaction I ever had, but his speed was impressive,” Auer countered.
“Even with me winning the start, I think Sheldon just did a mega job today and was in a league of his own.
“Congratulations to him and to his team.”
Van der Linde had the race firmly under control when some light rain began to fall during the pitstop cycle, with several cars turning on their windscreen wipers.
While the rain ultimately did not play a major part in proceedings, Van der Linde admitted he was hoping for the rain to not get any heavier.
“If it starts raining and you are leading by so far, you are the first guy to obviously approach the rain,” he said.
“It makes it that much harder when guys like Luca and Lucas are following you, because they have the reference.
“If it rained slightly more I think it would have been a bit harder for me to retain the lead, or at least stay on track.
“I had a small moment with three laps to go where I almost put it in the gravel at turn 5, but I managed to escape that.”