Ricardo Feller took his debut DTM victory at Imola in his third weekend racing in the series. Dev Gore also got his first points finish coming from P22 at the start to second place whilst Marco Wittmann took P3 with a last lap do or die move for third place.
It was a tidy start to the race with Feller in the #7 ABT Sportsline Audi and Felipe Fraga in the #74 Red Bull AF Corse Ferrari holding position whilst behind them Marco Wittmann lost a place to Maro Engel.
Fraga took the lead at the end of lap 1 when Feller put a wheel into the gravel on the exit of Rivazza which compromised his speed on the start finish straight sufficiently for Fraga to power past him as they crossed the line.
With the race settling down an incident at Rivazza between the #19 GRT Lamborghini of Rolf Ineichen and the #24 KÜS Team Bernhard Porsche of Thomas Preining saw the pair beached in the gravel and a safety car called whilst they were recovered.
With a rule change for 2022 allowing mandatory pits stops to be taken under safety car conditions much of the field pitted within the next two laps.
With so many cars pitting at once it was no surprise that there would be some incidents and indeed Mirko Bortolotti found himself under investigation for an unsafe release which saw his #63 GRT Lamborghini side swipe the #22 Team Winward Mercedes of Lucas Auer.
At the restart it all went wrong for Felipe Fraga, a heavy contact through Tamburello with the #22 of Auer resulted in an immediate tyre failure which left the Brazilian tumbling down the grid before eventually retiring.
At the front the leaders were Nick Cassidy and Denis Olsen both of whom still had to pit. Cassidy’s #37 AF Corse Alpha Tauri Ferrari had the better restart and was able to take the lead ahead of Olsen’s #94 SSR Performance Porsche as the pair dived into Tamburello.
Still needing to take their pit stops the pair needed to build a sufficient gap to the pack so they could rejoin in a good place. With 16 minutes remaining the pair pitted with Cassidy having built a 10 second gap back to Olsen but it wasn’t enough as the pack streamed past the pair and dropped Cassidy to P20 and Olsen to P21.
With pitstops completed Ricardo Feller was back in front and Dev Gore in the #12 Team Rosberg Audi was up to second however there were questions around Gore’s pit stop as due to a puncture he was forced to pit early however he seemed to time it exactly with the pit window opening. There was a question as to whether he would need to take a second stop but the stewards were happy and he was able to retain second place on the road and become the first American to take a podium in the DTM Championship.
Behind him Lucas Auer and Marco Wittmann were both threatening Gore’s points and podium debut and both loomed large in the American’s mirrors but their own fight for position eased the pressure. On the final lap Wittmann pushed his way past Auer into Tamburello and held the position whilst Auer immediately came under pressure from Sheldon van der Linde who pushed hard into Tosa and up the hill to Piratella but Auer was able to keep the championship leader back in P5.
The result helps to extend the championship lead for Sheldon van der Linde to 80 points, 12 points ahead of Mirko Bortolotti in second and Nico Müller in third on 62 points.
The DTM Championship will return in two weeks time on the 2nd and 3rd of July at the Norisring.
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