- New DTM champion wins again in the final race of the season
- Austrian dominates finale with two pole positions and two wins
- 88,000 visitors enjoy fantastic conclusion to the globally popular racing series
Hockenheim. Just a champion doing champion things: new DTM champion Thomas Preining (A) won the final race of the season on Sunday and, with two pole positions and two race wins, was the dominant driver of the final race weekend in Hockenheim. The Porsche driver had already wrapped up the title with the fastest lap in Sunday morning’s qualifying session. He was at it again in the afternoon and ended his outstanding season with an impressive lights-to-flag victory. “I just wanted to have fun and enjoy the season finale as DTM champion. Mirko Bortolotti and Lamborghini have been an incredibly strong package for years and he was very close to me at times. However, I produced a flawless race from start to finish. To win in front of my family and girlfriend was something very special,” said the 25-year-old, who also won the Team competition with Manthey EMA and the Manufacturer Championship with Porsche. His closest rival, Mirko Bortolotti (I) from the SSR Performance team, gave it his very best shot in the Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo2, but was unable to put Preining under any real threat and eventually had to settle for second place. René Rast (Bregenz) enjoyed a successful end to the season, finishing third in the Schubert Motorsport BMW M4 GT3.
Key facts, Hockenheimring, race 16 of 16
Circuit length: 4,574 metres
Weather: 17 degrees Celsius, sunny
Pole position: Thomas Preining (Manthey EMA, Porsche 911 GT3 R #91), 1:36.800 minutes
Winner: Thomas Preining (Manthey EMA, Porsche 911 GT3 R #91)
Fastest lap: Sheldon van der Linde (Schubert Motorsport, BMW M4 GT3 #1), 1:38.400 minutes
The crowds enjoyed an entertaining DTM finale at the Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg. The season’s two dominant drivers, Preining and Bortolotti, started the race from the front row of the grid and led the field from start to finish. In the early stages, BMW driver Sheldon van der Linde (ZA) did attack the Italian in front of him, but was unable to pass the Lamborghini no matter how hard he tried. Behind van der Linde, Laurin Heinrich (Würzburg) in a Porsche 911 GT3 R and Luca Stolz (Brachbach, Mercedes-AMG Team HRT) found themselves fourth and fifth.
The pit stops shook things up among the top five. While Preining and Bortolotti remained first and second, Maro Engel (Monaco) climbed into third place in his Mercedes-AMG, thanks to a perfect tyre change. Three-time DTM champion Rast, who had started down in 23rd place, was one of the last to come into the pits and sensationally returned to the track in the lead. However, on cold Pirelli tyres, the 36-year-old had no chance against the trio of Preining, Bortolotti and Engel, and slotted into fourth place in front of van der Linde.
In the last ten minutes, it all got a bit exciting again at the front of the field. 33-year-old Bortolotti closed in on race leader Preining and was within striking distance on the final lap. However, pushing hard, he nearly came off the track and eventually had to settle for second place – just as he did in the championship. The new title holder from Austria crossed the finish line first after 36 laps to become the only driver this season to win two races on one weekend. Rast and van der Linde overtook Engel, who came home fifth despite having technical issues. He was followed over the line by Heinrich in sixth, then the two Mercedes-AMG drivers Stolz and Lucas Auer (A). Ricardo Feller (CH), third in the championship, was the best-placed Audi driver in ninth. Marco Wittmann (Fürth) guided his Project 1 BMW M4 GT3 to tenth place in the last DTM race of the season.
Mirko Bortolotti: “I gave it my all, but unfortunately second place was all I could have hoped for today. I wanted to attack Thomas Preining at the start, but first had to defend against Sheldon van der Linde. After the pit stop, I tried to close in on Thomas, but could not get close enough to make a difference. I would have liked to have won, but second place is a great way to end the season.”
René Rast: “To make it onto the podium from 23rd on the grid should not really be possible in such a strong field. However, the car was brilliant and I soon gained a lot of places early on in the race. The key to the success was coming into the pits late for my tyre change. I gained a lot of positions thanks to that strategy. I am very happy with fifth place overall in my first DTM season with BMW.”
Result of race 2 at the Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg
1. Thomas Preining (A/Manthey EMA)
2. Mirko Bortolotti (I/SSR Performance), +0.852 seconds
3. René Rast (D/Schubert Motorsport), +7.618 seconds
4. Sheldon van der Linde (ZA/Schubert Motorsport), +9.212 seconds
5. Maro Engel (D/Mercedes-AMG Team Mann-Filter), +10.787 seconds
The full race result can be found at dtm.com/en/results.
Photo: ADAC Motorsport