AMG triumph of Auer, Bortolotti loses the victory

(Motorsport-Total.com) – Winward Mercedes driver Lucas Auer continues where he left off at the DTM season opener in Portimao: The Austrian, who dominated at the end of the 2022 season, secured the victory ahead of his HRT brand colleague from third place in net Luca Stolz and pole setter Mirko Bortolotti.

Lucas Auer wins the start of the new DTM season in Portugal

zoom

In a race marked by incidents, Auer benefited from Bortolotti’s accident, which spearheaded about ten laps before the end of the race and which, due to a presumed technical problem, did not escape properly and dropped back to fifth place. In the final phase, he fought his way back to the podium with fresh tires.

The best Audi driver was Abt driver Kelvin van der Linde in fourth place, because GruppeM Mercedes driver Maro Engel, who actually finished fourth, received a time penalty and dropped back to tenth place. His pit crew was in the pitlane too early.

With fifth place, SSR driver Dennis Olsen secured a conciliatory finish for Porsche after DTM newcomers had failed to get past 19th place in qualifying due to a less than optimal classification of the cars, which was corrected.

Rally superstar Sebastien Loeb finished as number 16 in the middle of the field on his DTM debut – a truly respectable performance for 22 drivers who finally reached the finish line.

Mirko Bortolotti controls right from the start

“The key to victory was good pace, a good strategy and a good pit stop,” Auer analyzed briefly and concisely on ‘ran.de’. “I think Mirko had a problem at restart, that was my luck. But otherwise it was a perfect day for us.”

In the beginning, everything was still fine for Bortolotti and Grasser-Lamborghini: the Austrian-Italian converted his pole position to the lead after a battle for several corner kicks with Mikael Grenier (Group M-Mercedes) and controlled events from then on. Bortolotti did not miss a beat and the pit stop also went smoothly.

Behind them, Auer worked his way up to second place after just a few laps and therefore lay waiting. However, a serious attack on Bortolotti was ruled out – Lamborghini was too strong in Portimao. Meanwhile, there was a lot of noise further back in the field: the Rosberg-Audi duo Nico Müller and Dev Gore were out after just three laps, and Marco Wittmann also parked a little later.

Ricardo Feller, David Schumacher and Maximilian Buhk opened the round of pit stops on the sixth lap, Maximilian Götz, Rene Rast, Laurens Vanthoor, Clemens Schmid, Grenier, Luca Stolz, Auer, Bortolotti and Nicki Thiim also came in relatively early.

Rolf Ineichen takes care of the SC phase

After all pit stops were completed, Bortolotti led ahead of Auer, Grenier, Stolz, Thiim, Engel, Felipe Fraga, Feller, Rast and Kelvin van der Linde. Everything seemed to point to a light-to-flag victory for Grasser, but then Bortolotti was thwarted by all people his teammate Rolf Ineichen.

After his pit stop, the Swiss driver stopped at the exit of turn 1, which triggered a safety car phase. And that should throw everything overboard: At the restart, Bortolotti got nowhere in the beginning. The result: The Lamborghini driver briefly dropped back to P5 behind Auer, Stolz, Engel and Feller. Bortolotti immediately got hold of the Abt-Audi driver again.

And behind came a chain reaction: Rast crashed into Fraga’s AF Corse Ferrari, which meant premature retirement of both drivers. Auer and Stolz had things under control in the closing stages, but behind them, Bortolotti attacked Engel. The Lamborghini driver tried for a long time in vain, but finally found a way past on the penultimate lap. With P3, he managed to limit the damage.

But it got even harder for Engel: In the end, the race control gave him a time penalty of five seconds, which brought him to P10. Fourth was ultimately Kelvin van der Linde ahead of Dennis Olsen, who both made an impressive comeback. Feller, Sheldon van der Linde, Vanthoor and Philipp Eng also finished in the top 10. The point for the fastest lap went to Stolz.

Leave a Comment