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Race report
DTM Hockenheim

DTM Hockenheim: Porsche’s Preining closes in on title with Saturday win

Factory Porsche driver Thomas Preining put himself in a prime position to clinch the 2023 DTM title with victory in Saturday’s penultimate race of the season at Hockenheim.

Preining didn’t put a foot wrong all day, claiming pole position in his Manthey EMA Porsche before leading every lap outside of the pitstop cycle to bag a maximum haul of 28 points.

For a long time it appeared that the Austrian would be able to wrap up the title as his nearest rival Mirko Bortolotti sat down in seventh, but the Lamborghini racer was able to clear the Audi of Kelvin van der Linde with just over 10 minutes left on the clock to take the fight to the final race of the season on Sunday.

Preining will go into the finale with a 27-point lead in the standings, which means he could wrap up the title as early as qualifying if his Italian rival fails to get the bonus points for pole or second on the grid.

At the start of the race, Preining made a clean start from pole position to hold the lead into Turn 1, with team-mate Dennis Olsen jumping the Grasser Lamborghini of DTM returnee Christian Engelhart to establish a Manthey EMA 1-2.

Preining slowly and steadily built a lead of over a second in the first stint of the race, with Olsen acting as a rear-gunner and keeping Engelhart at bay.

With Preining unthreatened at the front, the attention turned towards Bortolotti, who needed to finish inside the top six in order to stay in the title hunt.

Having lost a lap that would have been good enough for pole in qualifying to track limits, the SSR Performance driver started the race from eighth and was unable to make much headways in the first stint of the race, running seventh behind the Abt Audis of Ricardo Feller - the last remaining runner in the title fight - and van der Linde.

When the pit window open at the 20-minute mark, Emil Frey's Jack Aitken and Feller were the first among the leading group to stop for fresh tyres, with van der Linde and Bortolotti following in the next lap.

Kelvin van der Linde, Team ABT Sportsline Audi R8 LMS GT3

Photo by: Alexander Trienitz

Kelvin van der Linde, Team ABT Sportsline Audi R8 LMS GT3

A quicker stop allowed Bortolotti to jump van der Linde and he even managed to leapfrog Aitken and Feller with the overcut, only for the trio to pass him on track as he struggled on old tyres.

With the status quo reinstated and Preining cruising out front, it appeared Bortolotti would miss out on a title fight for a second season running.

However, Bortolotti kept the pressure up on van der Linde and, after a titanic battle between the two, he finally made a move on the South African into Turn 7.

A few laps later, Bortolotti also found a way past the Ferrari of recently-crowned IMSA enduro champion Aitken, taking an extra point for fifth place and keeping himself in the title hunt.

At the front, Preining romped to an easy one-second victory to boost his chances of becoming DTM’s first champion under the aegis of the ADAC, with Olsen finishing second to help Manthey EMA seal the teams’ title.

Third place went to Engelhart, who managed to secure a podium on his return to DTM with Grasser after splitting with Toksport WRT halfway through the season.

Fourth place went to Feller, who enjoyed a brilliant scrap with Aitken on both sides of the pitstop, but the result wasn’t enough to keep him in the title fight.

Van der Linde took sixth at the finish behind Bortolotti, after overtaking Aitken in the closing stages of the race.

HRT’s Luca Stolz was the only driver to score points for Mercedes in eighth, with Project 1 BMW’s’s Marco Wittmann and Team Bernhard Porsche’s Laurin Heinrich completing the top 10.

Outgoing DTM champion Sheldon van der Linde scored a solitary point in 15th, while his Schubert BMW team-mate Rene Rast retired after picking up a puncture in an incident with HRT Mercedes rival Arjun Maini.

Race results:

 Cla   Nº   Driver   Car / Engine   Laps   Delay/Retirement 
1 91  Thomas Preining Porsche 37  
2 90  Dennis Olsen Porsche 37 0.624
3 19  C.Engelhart Lamborghini 37 3.203
4 Ricardo Feller Audi 37 12.923
5 92  Mirko Bortolotti Lamborghini 37 13.165
6 K.van der Linde Audi 37 16.297
7 14  Jack Aitken Ferrari 37 17.938
8 Luca Stolz Mercedes 37 18.811
9 11  Marco Wittmann BMW 37 22.606
10 75  Laurin Heinrich Porsche 37 23.624
11 69  T.Vermeulen Ferrari 37 24.305
12 63  Clemens Schmid Lamborghini 37 26.188
13 99  Marvin Dienst Porsche 37 27.559
14 94  Franck Perera Lamborghini 37 28.114
15 S.van der Linde BMW 37 29.158
16 22  Lucas Auer Mercedes 37 31.200
17 40  Mattia Drudi Audi 37 31.877
18 48  Maro Engel Mercedes 37 32.307
19 27  David Schumacher Mercedes 37 32.718
20 83  P.Niederhauser Audi 37 39.091
21 56  Sandro Holzem BMW 37 55.717
22 84  Jusuf Owega Mercedes 37 56.179
(23) 36  Arjun Maini Mercedes 27 Retirement
(24) 33  René Rast BMW 21 Retirement
(16) Alessio Deledda Lamborghini 17 Retirement
(26) Luca Engstler Audi 15 Retirement
(15) Tim Heinemann Porsche 14 Retirement
(28) 24  Ayhancan Guven Porsche 14 Retirement


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