The Sachsenring in the German state of Saxony is one of the oldest circuits in Germany and known to be unsuitable for the Audi. The circuit, with a length of 3,671 km and 14 turns, is a fast and challenging track but as the Audi RS3 LMS is 50 kg heavier than most of its competition and Niels Langeveld was carrying another 30 kg of additional ballast because of his good results at Zandvoort. The racing one racer knew everything had to be perfect to do well here.
In the first qualifying session, Langeveld set an eleventh time and that allowed him into the second session. With a few minutes on the clock in the second session, the Audi was tenth – a great result. Although the first race would be difficult, this meant the pole position for the second race because of the reversed grid for the top ten. The final minutes of the second session were teeth-grinding for Langeveld and his team racing one as any improvement by someone else would immediately turn the promising starting position into a position outside the top ten. Fortunately, that didn’t happen and Langeveld was assured of the best starting position for the second race.
The first race on Saturday started well, Langeveld immediately climbing to seventh. There he got stuck behind Michelle Halder in the Hyundai i30. With 80 kg more weight, Langeveld could not get past Halder, and was even pressured from behind, had to defend and lost a position. In the closing stages of the race Langeveld got lucky as two opponents in front of him went off track, helping him to finish the first race in sixth.
On Sunday, Langeveld knew he would have to pull out all the stops to keep the lead in the race. Very focused, he made a perfect start and immediately opened up a small gap to second-placed Michelle Halder. Title competitors Harald Proczyk and Luca Engstler also had good starts and moved forward quickly but a safety car was dispatched after the first lap because of various cars stuck in the gravel. At the restart, Langeveld surprised Halder with a brilliant diversion ploy giving him a lead of one and a half seconds. However, the Audi could not hold on to this gap, as little by little Langeveld saw his lead on the chasing group evaporate. On lap 15, with five more to go, Langeveld saw the Hyundai close up in his mirrors and he knew that a small miracle was needed to win the race.
When Luca Engstler, who had also won the first race, passed Halder, the lighter Hyundai was soon on the back of the racing one Audi. A great battle that lasted into the last lap was the absolute climax of this race, Engstler passing Langeveld several times on speed but each time the Dutchman managed to reclaim by driving better lines. However, the final lap would be his downfall because Langeveld couldn't close the gap in time for another overtaking attempt, going too far off line and taking the speed out of the Audi. Several drivers benefited, resulting in Langeveld dropping down to fifth.
"I am satisfied with the first race, that was the best possible result for us here. The fact that the last lap of the second race cost me so many points is very disappointing. The whole race I was really fighting with the car and the tyres, the race just lasted one lap too long. But everything is still possible. The three of us are very close and it's going to be a great fight at the Hockenheimring to see who will be champion", said Langeveld with a fighting spirit.
Niels Langeveld is now third in the standings, eleven points behind Luca Engstler and six behind Harald Proczyk. With the points for qualifying (a maximum of 5) and the two races (a maximum of 80) the battle is still completely open and on 22 and 23 September at the Hockenheimring a titanic battle will determine whether Niels Langeveld can win his sixth career title.
Results race 1
1. Luca Engstler (D); 2. Mike Halder (D); 3. Harald Proczyk (O); 4. Antti Buri (Fin);
5. Michelle Halder (D); 6. Niels Langeveld.
Results race 2
1. Luca Engstler (D); 2. Michelle Halder (D); 3. Pascal Eberle (Zwi); 4. Harald Proczyk (O);
5. Niels Langeveld; 6. Theo Coicaud (F).
Standings TCR Germany 2018
1. Luca Engstler (D) 349
2. Harald Proczyk (O) 344
3. Niels Langeveld 338