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DTM Oschersleben: Aitken capitalises on Wittmann dramas to win season-opener

Jack Aitken won the opening race of the 2024 DTM at Oschersleben after Marco Wittmann’s BMW stopped on track with mechanical issues with just three minutes to run.

BMW driver Wittmann was on course to take an unlikely victory from the last row of the grid after timing his pitstop to perfection, with Schubert Motorsport having brought him in for his mandatory stop just before a Full Course Yellow was deployed.

But with the end of the race in sight, his BMW M4 GT3 crawled to a halt at the start/finish straight due to a fuel pressure alarm, allowing Aitken to retake the position and claim his second career victory in the DTM.

Aitken had made a clean start from pole position as the 2024 campaign began at Oschersleben, with Mirko Bortolotti likewise holding on to second in the SSR Performance Lamborghini.

But as the initial laps wore on, Bortolotti started coming under pressure from the Abt Sportsline Audi of Ricardo Feller, who had passed HRT Mercedes of Arjun Maini for third at the start.

This allowed Aitken to build a buffer for himself at the front of the pack, the British driver pulling in an advantage of three seconds as the pit window opened after 20 minutes of racing.

Bortolotti was among the first of the frontrunners to peel into the pitlane, with Aitken and Feller following him into the pits on the next lap.

Aitken resumed the race in the net lead, but Feller managed to get the jump on Bortolotti as the overcut proved to be the superior strategy on a track where drivers struggled to get heat into their tyres.

Podium: Race winner Jack Aitken, Emil Frey Racing, second place Mirko Bortolotti, SSR Performance, third place Ricardo Feller, Team ABT Sportsline

Podium: Race winner Jack Aitken, Emil Frey Racing, second place Mirko Bortolotti, SSR Performance, third place Ricardo Feller, Team ABT Sportsline

Photo by: Alexander Trienitz

It appeared Aitken would have a clean run to the finish, but the race was turned on his head when Ben Dorr lost a wheel on his McLaren exiting the final corner around the halfway point of the race.

With the loose wheel rolling its way on to the track, a caution period was necessitated, before the race control decided to bring out the full safety car.

However, just before the FCY came into force, Schubert cleverly called in Wittmann to the pits, the BMW driver having decided to go long in the first stint after a red flag in qualifying left him on 19th on the grid.

It appeared to be a masterstroke from Schubert, as Wittmann cycled back on track well clear of the chasing pack. Even as the safety car that followed closed the pack back up, Wittmann was able to make a brilliant restart as Bortolotti repassed Feller for third.

However, a first win since the 2022 finale at Hockenheim wasn’t to be, as a rare mechanical issue left the German stranded on track and put Aitken back in front.

The safety car was brought back on track to help retrieve Wittmann’s stranded BMW, but the track could be cleared for a one-lap dash to the finish.

Aitken made no mistakes as the SC peeled into the pits, keeping himself well clear of the competition to start the season with a stunning win.

Race winner Jack Aitken, Emil Frey Racing Ferrari Ferrari 296 GT3

Race winner Jack Aitken, Emil Frey Racing Ferrari Ferrari 296 GT3

Photo by: Alexander Trienitz

Bortolotti claimed second for Lamborghini, while Feller resisted the other Schubert BMW of Sheldon van der Linde on the final lap to claim the third spot on the podium.

Mercedes duo Luca Stolz (HRT) and Lucas Auer (Winward) finished fifth and sixth behind van der Linde, while Rene Rast ended up seventh in the third of the three Schubert BMWs.

A decision to stop early dropped Stolz’s team-mate Maini from fourth on lap one to eighth at the finish, ahead of the second Emil Frey Ferrari of Thierry Vermeulen and reigning champion Thomas Preining (Manthey EMA), the only Porsche runner inside the top 10.

Apart from Wittmann and Dorr, the only other driver to fail to finish the race was SSR’s Nicki Thiim, who retired after just 10 laps with technical issues of his own.

DTM Oschersleben Race Results

   
1
 - 
4
   
   
1
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2
   
Cla Driver # Car Laps Time Interval Pits Points
1 United Kingdom J. Aitken Emil Frey Racing 14 Ferrari 296 GT3 39

1:01'33.741

     
2 Italy M. Bortolotti SSR Performance 92 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo 2 39

+1.159

1:01'34.900

1.159    
3 Switzerland R. Feller Abt Sportsline 7 Audi R8 LMS Evo II 39

+1.595

1:01'35.336

0.436    
4 South Africa S. Van Der Linde Schubert Motorsport 31 BMW M4 GT3 39

+1.982

1:01'35.723

0.387    
5 Germany L. Stolz Mercedes-AMG Team HRT 4 Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 39

+3.744

1:01'37.485

1.762    
6 Austria L. Auer Mercedes-AMG Team HRT 22 Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 39

+4.228

1:01'37.969

0.484    
7 Germany R. Rast Schubert Motorsport 33 BMW M4 GT3 39

+4.576

1:01'38.317

0.348    
8 India A. Maini Mercedes-AMG Team HRT 36 Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 39

+5.025

1:01'38.766

0.449    
9
T. Vermeulen Emil Frey Racing
69 Ferrari 296 GT3 39

+5.177

1:01'38.918

0.152    
10 Austria T. Preining Manthey EMA 91 Porsche 911 GT3 R 39

+5.928

1:01'39.669

0.751    
11 Germany L. Engstler GRT Grasser Racing Team 19 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo 2 39

+6.276

1:01'40.017

0.348    
12 South Africa K. van der Linde Abt Sportsline 3 Audi R8 LMS Evo II 39

+6.645

1:01'40.386

0.369    
13 Germany M. Engel Mercedes-AMG Team HRT 130 Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 39

+6.853

1:01'40.594

0.208    
14 Turkey A. Güven Manthey EMA 90 Porsche 911 GT3 R 39

+7.707

1:01'41.448

0.854    
15 Austria C. Schmid Dörr Motorsport 85 McLaren 720S GT3 Evo 39

+8.287

1:01'42.028

0.580    
16 Germany C. Engelhart GRT Grasser Racing Team 63 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo 2 39

+8.989

1:01'42.730

0.702    
17 Germany P. Maximilian Paul Motorsport 71 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo 2 39

+9.092

1:01'42.833

0.103    
18 Germany M. Wittmann Schubert Motorsport 11 BMW M4 GT3 36

+3 Laps

56'25.045

3 Laps    
dnf
B. Dörr Dörr Motorsport
25 McLaren 720S GT3 Evo 20

+19 Laps

29'42.372

16 Laps    
dnf Denmark N. Thiim SSR Performance 94 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo 2 10

+29 Laps

14'44.338

10 Laps    

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