Rookie tour de force
Sheldon van der Linde, the young South African who celebrated his 20th birthday earlier this week, took his first ever DTM pole position, maintaining BMW’s clean sweep of top-starting places in 2019.
The rookie showed impressive speed and bravery during the season opener at Hockenheim earlier this month, was stymied by the Safety Car in yesterday’s race at Zolder, but pulled out all the stops – including a wild ride over the gravel – to claim top spot for today’s Belgian race.
“I’m probably even happier than Philipp after his race win yesterday,” said an elated van der Linde as he climbed from his car. “I can’t believe it! This is only my fourth race in DTM, and I never thought we’d progress so quickly.
“I’ve been dreaming about this since I was very young. Being in the DTM was already great – but the first pole is just amazing!”
Van der Linde’s fastest lap of 1m21.590s was fractionally slower than yesterday’s best time, set by Marco Wittmann, but he finished 0.006s ahead of second-placed René Rast, who once again starts from the front row at Zolder. The German was confident enough with his lap-time to sit out the last remaining minutes of the session following a red flag to remove a stricken car.
Yesterday’s race winner Philipp Eng qualified third, just ahead of local driver Robin Frijns. Timo Glock, Mike Rockenfeller, Marco Wittmann, Jonathan Aberdein, Jamie Green and Joel Eriksson rounded out the top 10.
With 3m30s remaining, red flags were out after Paul Di Resta parked his R-Motorsport Aston Martin on the grass at Sterrewachtbocht. The action resumed five minutes later but wasn’t sufficient to alter any of the top positions.
Highest placed Aston Martin driver is Jake Dennis, who lines up 13th.