Nico Muller delivered an impressive performance to score his third consecutive victory of the DTM season in the first Lausitzring race, as Sheldon van Linde put BMW on the podium.
Muller made a better launch than polesitter Robin Frijns to lead into Turn 1, with van der Linde passing Loic Duval to move himself up to third.
The leading three drivers ran head-to-tail in the opening 10 laps of the race, with Muller having to work hard to keep the chasing pack at bay.
However, the Audi driver was slowly able to carve a gap for himself, which grew to as much as 1.5 seconds before the pitstops began.
Van der Linde was the first of the leaders to stop on lap 14, with both Frijns and fourth-placed Duval following the next lap to cover off the BMW driver.
While the Audi duo emerged just ahead of van der Linde after completing their pitstops, cold tyres meant they were unable to prevent the BMW driver from passing and assuming second position.
Meanwhile, Muller waited until lap 20 to complete his mandatory pitstop and returned on track with an extended lead of more than 6s.
The gap between the two drivers dropped to under 3s after a safe zone caution, before van der Linde closed in further on Muller, potentially setting up a late-race showdown.
However, van der Linde’s tyres began to fade in the final stages of the race, allowing Muller to rebuild the gap and win by 2.87s.
Second place nevertheless was enough for van der Linde to score BMW’s first podium of the year after the Munich-based manufacturer failed to finish inside the top five at Spa.
Frijns finished third for Audi after successfully fending off the BMW of Marco Wittmann, who completed a remarkable turnaround after scoring just a single point in the season opener.
Timo Glock ran wide at Turn 2 on the opening lap while trying to move up the order but recovered enough to finish fifth and make it three BMWs in the top five.
Ferdinand Habsburg secured the first points of the WRT Audi customer team in 2020 with sixth, finishing just 0.4s clear of Audi’s reigning champion Rene Rast.
Rast, fresh off a podium finish in the penultimate Formula E race of 2019-20 season in Berlin, had a subdued race en route to seventh after understeering onto the grass at Turn 6 on the opening lap.
He finished 4s clear of Audi stablemate Jamie Green after the two traded positions several times during the race, with Rast sealing his seventh place on lap 35.
BMW’s Philipp Eng and Audi driver Mike Rockenfeller crossed the finish line side-by-side, with Eng holding onto the ninth spot by just over a tenth of a second.
Formula 1 race winner Robert Kubica secured his best result of the season so far in 13th in an ART-run BMW, despite being spun around at Turn 1 by the WRT Audi of Fabio Scherer – an offence for which Scherer was handed a drivethrough penalty.
Duval was the only driver to retire from the race, the Audi driver parking his RS5 on lap 25 with what appeared to be a technical issue.
Lausitzring race one result
|2||Sheldon van der Linde||BMW||43||2.870s|
|14||Jonathan Aberdein||BMW||42||1 Lap|
|15||Fabio Scherer||Audi||42||1 Lap|