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DTM Lausitzring

Audi squad perplexed that Preining escaped with Lausitzring DTM warning

The Abt Audi squad has questioned why Thomas Preining escaped punishment for forcing Kelvin van der Linde off the road during their DTM battle at the Lausitzring.

Van der Linde had moved into the lead of Sunday’s DTM race thanks to a brilliant overcut strategy executed by Abt Sportsline, jumping both team-mate Ricardo Feller and Manthey EMA driver Preining.

But the South African was still trying to get heat into his new Pirelli tyres on lap 19 of 42 when Preining launched an attack into the long right-hander of Turn 6.

Van der Linde was forced onto the gravel at the exit of the corner as the reigning champion slipped through. Race control investigated the incident, but issued no more than a warning to Preining, who went on to win by 1.4s in his Porsche 911 GT3 R.

The matter was made worse for Abt race control taking action against Feller for his move on van der Linde for second at the very next corner, which involved the pair rubbing wheels at the apex.

 

Abt sporting director Martin Tomczyk was puzzled as to why Preining got away with just a warning from the stewards, especially when Feller was asked to hand back the position to van der Linde for their clash.

"Thomas left him no room at the exit of the corner, so it was clear that it wasn't clean," said Tomczyk, the 2011 DTM champion.

"I know what my drivers do and that they are fair. And if there is a contact, then I don't feel any pain because I can rely on my drivers. 

“But Ricardo got a warning and had to change positions. Preining only got a warning and didn't have to give back his position, so that was a double penalty.

Kelvin van der Linde, Team ABT Sportsline, Ricardo Feller, Team ABT Sportsline with Martin Tomczyk, ABT Sportsline

Kelvin van der Linde, Team ABT Sportsline, Ricardo Feller, Team ABT Sportsline with Martin Tomczyk, ABT Sportsline

Photo by: Alexander Trienitz

"We had to swap places, which I didn't need to do because I sorted that out internally. I would have liked him [race director Sven Stoppe] to have looked at the other situation as well."

There wasn’t enough time in the immediate aftermath of the race for Tomczyk to clarify the matter with Stoppe, a person the now-retired racer has a lot of respect for.

"Perhaps the angle was the decisive factor in that case, that he didn't see it properly,” he said.

"I spoke to him, but that's always a matter of interpretation. In the end, it is what it is, but I would have liked it to have been judged equally."

Why Preining’s move went unpunished

It is understood that the race director was of the opinion that Preining’s pass over van der Linde was already completed by the time the Audi driver ran out of the room and had to take to the run-off area at the exit of Turn 6.

In contrast, the race control believes that it was contact between the Abt pair that enabled Feller to make the move for second position.

As such, Feller had to hand his position back to van der Linde, while Preining received no more than a warning for his incident with the latter.

For the factory Porsche driver, it was his second warning of the race, having previously been reprimanded for changing lanes while defending against Feller. As per the DTM rules, three warnings result in a five-place grid penalty.

Race winner Thomas Preining, Manthey EMA

Race winner Thomas Preining, Manthey EMA

Photo by: Alexander Trienitz

Overall, Tomczyk took Abt’s defeat to Preining in good spirits, especially with van der Linde now leading the drivers’ championship and Feller sitting only two points behind Preining in third.

"Preining's overtaking manoeuvre against Ricardo in Turn 8 was mega," he said, referring to the pass the Austrian had completed before van der Linde returned from the pits in the lead. 

"He fought his way back into position twice against my drivers. He deserved to win."

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