Stronger than ever, more exciting than ever, more spectacular than ever
DTM has gone through another turbulent phase in its equally successful and eventful history – and once again, it emerges from it stronger than before. After the dissolution of ITR, now held under the large umbrella of the ADAC, the popular racing series presents itself in dazzling form for the 2023 season. And, as usually in the past, the title can only be won at the season finale from 20 to 22 October at the Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg. Because DTM and the Hockenheimring simply go together like a match made in heaven.
The 2023 field comprising more than 25 GT3 racing cars will be sure to make the heart of every motorsports enthusiast beat faster. With Audi, BMW, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Mercedes-AMG and Porsche, six of the world’s most renowned sports car manufacturers are sending customer teams into the race to negotiate the successor to 2022 champion Sheldon van der Linde in Schubert Motorsport’s BMW M4 GT3.
The defending champions are also in the mix in 2023. In 2023, the BMW line-up will have won no fewer than six DTM titles: Van der Linde’s new team mate is none other than three-time DTM champion René Rast, who has switched from Audi to BMW. The second BMW team, the DTM newcomers from Project 1, who have been successful in other racing series for many years, also features Marco Wittmann, a two-time overall DTM winner.
The South African van der Linde is well aware of the difficulty of the task ahead of him: “They say it’s always harder to defend a title than to win it for the first time. I am excited to see how it pans out. The new DTM will be a big challenge for everyone. Whoever can adapt to the new conditions the fastest will be successful. I trust in the abilities of my team, which will certainly be even stronger than last year.”
If last season is taken as a yardstick, the Bavarians’ toughest competition is likely to come from the ranks of Mercedes-AMG. After winning the runner-up championship in 2022 with two victories and four podium finishes, Austrian Lucas Auer from the Mercedes-AMG Team WINWARD, in particular, is now aiming for the really big coup: “We were strong on the road last year, and we just want to pick up where we left off. The fact that we are entering our third season together as a team with an almost unchanged line-up is a big advantage. I am convinced that we will continue to play a significant role in DTM in 2023.” With Maro Engel (Mercedes-AMG Team Landgraf) and Luca Stolz (Mercedes-AMG Team HRT), two more title candidates are aiming for glory in this star-studded camp. The three spearheads will each be supported by a Mercedes-AMG Junior in their teams with the Germans David Schumacher (WINWARD) and Jusuf Owega (Landgraf) and the Indian Arjun Maini (HRT).
The Porsche team is also well-positioned, with Team Manthey EMA, KÜS Team Bernhard around two-time sports car world champion Timo Bernhard and the newcomers from Toksport WRT bringing a very strong line-up to the grid. The six brand new Porsche 992 GT3-R are excellently manned with the Norwegian Dennis Olsen, the Austrian Thomas Preining (both Manthey EMA), the Turk Ayhancan Güven and his German teammate Laurin Heinrich (both KÜS Team Bernhard), as well as the Germans Christian Engelhart and Tim Heinemann (both Toksport WRT).
Lamborghini has strengthened its team with last year’s Porsche team SSR Racing – especially as the Bavarians bring two proven top drivers on board with Mirko Bortolotti (Italy) and Franck Perera (France). And another team ready for DTM: The Austrian GRT Grasser Racing Team with two Huracán GT3 Evo, whose line-up was not yet ready to be announced when the current issue of MOTODROM INSIGHT went to press.
Audi offers concentrated power from the Allgäu region. As usual, the Ingolstadt-based team will be represented by the long-standing ABT Sportsline team from Kempten, which has won five DTM drivers’ titles and whose drivers Kelvin van der Linde (South Africa) and Riccardo Feller (Switzerland) are among the best in their field. A newcomer to the DTM is an old DTM warhorse – Franz Engstler from Wiggensburg, who will be racing an Audi R8 LMS Evo with his team for son Luca.
The big surprise comes from Switzerland: The Emil Frey Racing team from Safenwil in the canton of Aargau, which is well-known from various GT racing series, will be fielding two of the brand new Ferrari 296 GT3s in the 2023 DTM. Jack Aitken from Great Britain and Thierry Vermeulen from the Netherlands will be at the wheel of the two Maranello racers.
This means that the DTM scores big with tremendous diversity again this year. The six different makes differ not only in appearance and acoustics, but also in technical concept. Two turbo racers (BMW and Ferrari) against the assembled naturally aspirated faction; V10 high-rev concept (Lamborghini, Audi) against V8 torque monster (Mercedes-AMG GT3) against boxer engine (Porsche); front engines (BMW, Mercedes-AMG) against mid-engines (Ferrari, Audi, Lamborghini) and rear engine (Porsche). There really is something for everyone.
Long story short: Some of the best GT drivers on the planet in some of the most beautiful and spectacular GT racing cars of the present day and, on top of that, the season finale at the Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg – you can’t get more excited than that …
Picture: DTM, Testfahrt Red Bull Ring 2023 – Foto: Gruppe C Photography