DTM returned to Motorsport Arena Oschersleben for the first time in eight years to open its 2023 season – the first run by ADAC after the German automobile club took over the series from ITR over winter. With a strong, unchallenged race, Franck Perera took his maiden DTM win in the opening race of the season.
DTM OSCHERSLEBEN | RACE 1 REPORT | RACE 2 REPORT
Starting from pole position, Perera dove into the first corner with SSR Performance Lamborghini Huracán GT3 teammate Mirko Bortolotti jumping ahead of Jack Aitken to slot into second place while Ricardo Feller grabbed third place aboard his #7 Abt Sportsline Audi R8 LMS GT3. The new starting procedure designed to reduce accidents paid off: the whole field got through the opening laps without any accidents.
Tim Heinemann, piloting the #9 Toksport WRT Porsche 992 GT3R, shortly overtook Aitken’s #14 Emil Frey Racing Ferrari 296 GT3 for fourth place, however, race control deemed the overtake in which the young German wrestled himself past the Ferrari unacceptable leaving Heinemann with no other choice but to give back the position to the Brit.
The opening laps saw Perera slowly edge away from the rest of the field. Bortolotti was unable to keep pace with his French teammate, having to deal with Feller all over his rear but standing his ground.
With the opening of the pit window after 20 minutes of racing – the introduction of a pit window being another rule change for this year – saw Aitken be the first to make his mandatory stop. The early stop paid off: at the closing of the pit window 20 minutes later the Ferrari found itself in third place behind Heinemann and ahead of René Rast in the #33 Schubert Motorsport BMW M4 GT3 and Ricardo Feller.
Perera’s late pitstop made no difference whatsoever in the battle for the win. Strong all throughout the race, the #94 Lambo never let up and returned on track well ahead of the rest of the field. Bortolotti, coming in at the last possible moment, however, fell behind Feller as he was unable to defend on cold tyres against the Swiss pilot and dropped back to eighth behind the #3 Abt Sportsline Audi R8 LMS GT3 driven by Kelvin van der Linde and #75 KÜS Team Bernhard Porsche 992 GT3R of Laurin Heinrich while his Pirellis were getting up to temperature.
Less successful were the pitstops of both Manthey EMA Porsche 992 GT3Rs – normally one of the benchmark teams when it comes to pitstops. Thomas Preining lost time when the crew had a hiccup changing the left front tyre, while Dennis Olsen lost time with a botched stop as well. Manthey wasn’t the only top team to have a bad pitstop: the same faith befell the #1 Schubert Motorsport BMW M4 GT3 of Sheldon van der Linde who was sent away while the crew was still changing the right front tyre costing the reigning champion valuable positions.
As tyre grip started to wear off for the early stoppers, Feller found his way past Rast with mere minutes to go to take fourth place from the three-time champion after a slight mistake by the BMW driver.
After an hour plus one lap of racing, Franck Perera took the chequered flag with a gap of four seconds to Tim Heinemann. Jack Aitken finished in third place ahead of Ricardo Feller and René Rast, while Kelvin van der Linde climbed from tenth on the grid to sixth at the finish keeping Laurin Heinrich, Mirko Bortolotti and Christian Engelhart at bay. Dennis Olsen rounded out the top ten.
Sunday will see track action in the morning at 9:35 CEST with Qualifying 2. Race 2 starts at 13:30 CEST in the afternoon.
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