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DTM Hockenheim

DTM champion Preining defends title rival Bortolotti after finale

Newly-crowned DTM champion Thomas Preining has defended his rival Mirko Bortolotti after the Hockenheim finale, crediting him for magnanimously accepting defeat in the title battle.

Thomas Preining, Manthey EMA, Mirko Bortolotti, SSR Performance

Factory Porsche driver Preining emerged on top in a season-long battle with Lamborghini’s Bortolotti after dominating the final round at Hockenheim, winning both races from pole position to score a perfect haul of 56 points.

The Austrian wrapped up the title when he secured three extra points for pole in Sunday’s second qualifying, but the championship battle was effectively decided the previous day when he romped to an easy win while Bortolotti could only muster a fifth-place finish.

In that particular race, Bortolotti struggled to make much headway from eighth on the grid, and could only make up some ground in the latter stages after two feisty battles with Kelvin van der Linde and Jack Aitken.

When he was asked on TV about his hard driving style, the Italian’s response generated a major controversy on social media. 

He was quoted as saying: "From me? People only ever see what I do.

"If you're pushed onto the grass all the time, in the middle of the straight, and then I get it off. Sorry, I'm not going to allow that anymore.

"You should also have respect if you are Italian and not just German and drive a German vehicle. I think I had to take more than I gave out today."

Thomas Preining, Manthey EMA Porsche 911 GT3-R

Photo by: Alexander Trienitz

Thomas Preining, Manthey EMA Porsche 911 GT3-R

But Preining has come out in defence of his chief championship rival, highlighting how he reached out to him in parc ferme to congratulate him for his success.

"It's certainly not easy when you're in his shoes now," Preining told broadcaster ran.de.  "You lost the championship ten minutes ago. To have the balls there and immediately go and congratulate, that's really hard to do.

"He was the first well-wisher after qualifying and after the race. To fight against him and then also to beat him is really special."

Preining felt the hate comments Bortolotti received on the internet were not justified.

"I saw on Saturday that he got a lot of bad comments on the Internet,” he said. "Of course everyone can write and do whatever they want, but I really have to say he was always very respectful, the whole season."

Bortolotti, on his part, clarified that those comments weren’t aimed at other drivers but at the question that had been posed to him by the TV reporter.

However, he was clear that he won’t change his attitude despite the controversy that had been generated.

"What goes on in social media doesn't bother me at all,” the SSR Performance driver told ran.de.

“I know what I say, when I say it and why I say it. Maybe certain people should get some facts before they shoot out comments here for free.

"And not because I wanted to get negative on any people. It wasn't directed at other drivers, but at the question as it was worded.

"I'm not going to back down from expressing my opinion. People can write what they want out there. Let them get their lives together instead of judging mine."

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