The Abt Audi driver recorded his first triumph since 2021, finishing almost two seconds clear of Laurin Heinrich, who led the first phase of the race from pole position.
Van der Linde’s team-mate Ricardo Feller prevailed in a thrilling late scrap with Rene Rast to take the final podium spot, while championship leader Mirko Bortolotti came home in ninth.
The race started on a damp track, with most of the field opting for wet-weather tyres. Team 75 Motorsport Porsche driver Heinrich converted a maiden pole into the lead at turn one, but then was challenged on the climb to turn three by van der Linde.
Heinrich managed to prevail in that battle, with van der Linde slipping to fifth after running wide and then getting swamped on the run to turn four by Heinrich’s team-mate Ayhancan Guven, Mercedes-AMG driver Maro Engel and championship contender Thomas Preining.
Heinrich pulled out a three-second advantage over Engel in the early stages, while van der Linde recovered past Preining and Guven into third. Schubert BMW driver Rene Rast also joined the action, battling his way past Preining into fifth.
Lamborghini driver Bortolotti spent most of the opening 20 minutes in ninth before picking up the pace and gaining a couple of places. He pulled off a wild overtake on Marco Wittmann on the outside of turn six, despite dipping two wheels in the gravel on the exit, and the pinched seventh from Manthey Porsche driver Dennis Olsen.
The leading runners left it late into the pit window before making their mandatory stops as the track continued to dry, eventually switching to slick tyres.
By stopping earlier than his rivals, van der Linde leapfrogged Preining and Engel to gain a five-second lead. Bortolotti came in just before the window closed, briefly emerging ahead of Preining before losing out to his title rival at turn three, and the Italian then lost further places as he struggled to get his slick tyres up to temperature.
The safety car was deployed moments later when Thierry Vermeulen spun his Ferrari into the gravel following contact with Clemens Schmid, who was handed a slow-lap penalty for the incident by officials.
The race resumed with 13 minutes left on the clock, with van der Linde pulling out more than a one-second advantage almost immediately, and from there controlled the remainder of the contest ahead of Heinrich while battles raged behind them.
Preining muscled his way into third past Engel, who ran wide and lost a further place to Feller. But one lap later Preining was instructed to let Engel back through, allowing Feller into third and Engel to fourth. Rast tried to capitalise by drawing alongside Preining, who was able to hold onto fifth.
Despite initially losing out, Rast was soon into fourth past Engel and Preining before engaging in a feisty battle for third with Feller in the final few laps.
Rast tapped the rear of Feller’s Audi twice into turn four, both times drawing alongside on the exit, but Feller put up a determined resistance to remain ahead and then held off his rival once more on the final lap. Engel and Preining continued their own tussle for fifth, with Engel prevailing at the chequered flag.
HRT Mercedes driver Luca Stolz came home seventh ahead of Wittmann, who passed Bortolotti with little more than a lap to go, while Olsen lost out to the pair before the finish and slipped from eighth to tenth.
Guven edged Luca Engstler to 11th, while reigning champion Sheldon van der Linde ran 16th early on and eventually finished 13th.
Source: Boxing News 24