Sheldon van der Linde stormed to a comfortable win in the first race at Lausitzring for Schubert Motorsport.
The South African took the lead from pole-sitter Lucas Auer in the opening stages. Van der Linde then began to build up a steady gap of more than two and a half seconds by lap seven.
Third place man Luca Stolz pulled the trigger first to pit, this decision meant he undercut Auer to take second in the race.
Van der Linde then followed the two Mercedes’ into the pits a lap later. It looked like the Schubert Motorsport driver was going to lose his lead as Stolz decisively closed the deficit to under a second. With Van der Linde also struggling to heat up his tires.
However, Stolz could not build on the momentum, as Van der Linde began to rebuild his advantage.
Rain spots threatened to throw a joker into the pack for the drivers. Spectators were forced to run for cover in the stands, as the unlikely downpour set team and driver radios into overdrive. Although, the promise of changing weather conditions didn’t impact the racing order.
Race two winner at Portimão, Nico Müller, capped off a miserable day as he was forced into retirement due to vibrations.
Lucas Auer would have been disappointed not to turn his front-row start into a race win. But by recording his second podium of the season, he has laid down the foundations for a potential title challenge. Auer also took the championship lead post-race, as his 44 points were enough to topple Mirko Bortolotti.
But it was Van der Linde who was the standout performer on the day. At the checkered flag, he had extended his lead to 3.5 seconds over Stolz.
The South African said post-race: “I’m so happy. Last year was a tough year for me personally and that just makes this one so much better”.