The Red Bull Ring in Austria was alive with the roar of engines as the 13th and 14th championship rounds of the DTM Championship unfolded on its 4,318-meter circuit. With a temperature of 15 degrees Celsius and unpredictable cloudy skies occasionally releasing light rain, it was a weekend of high stakes and even higher expectations.
Kelvin van der Linde took his first win of the 2023 season in race one before being forced to retire from race two. Meanwhile Rene Rast took his first DTM win driving a BMW in race two giving Schubert Motorsport a one/two finish with team mate Sheldon van der Linde finishing in second place.
The stage was set for an electrifying showdown, and the man at the forefront of it all was Laurin Heinrich from Team75 Motorsport. With nerves of steel, he secured pole position with a blistering lap time of 1:36.778 minutes, setting the tone for a race that would be talked about for days to come.
But as the race began, it was clear that the weather had a surprise in store for everyone. Light rain descended upon the track, turning it into a slippery battleground. Drivers navigated the treacherous conditions with skill, creating a spectacle of wheel-to-wheel duels and daring overtaking maneuvers in every corner.
Amidst the chaos, Kelvin van der Linde of Abt Sportsline was on a mission. Determined to secure his first win of the season, he weaved through the competition, showcasing his mastery of the Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo2. As the laps ticked away, it became evident that something extraordinary was about to happen.
Van der Linde made a bold decision during the mandatory pit stop. Opting for slick Pirelli tires earlier than his competitors, he took a calculated risk. As the tires warmed up, so did his chances of victory. With precision and finesse, he overtook the pole-sitter, Laurin Heinrich, whose tires struggled to find their optimal grip on the rapidly drying track.
Meanwhile, a remarkable story was unfolding further back in the pack. Ricardo Feller, starting a daunting 26th on the grid, was staging a heroic comeback in his Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo2. With every turn of the wheel, he sliced through the field, leaving spectators in awe. His journey culminated in a heart-pounding duel with René Rast from Schubert Motorsport, as the two fierce competitors battled for the final podium spot.
As the checkered flag waved, it was Kelvin van der Linde who emerged triumphant, not only securing his first win of the season but also etching his name in the DTM history books by delivering the 250th podium finish for Abt Sportsline. An emotional moment for the South African driver and his team, as they celebrated their remarkable achievement.
Laurin Heinrich, despite narrowly missing out on the top spot, showed his mettle by claiming second place in the Porsche 911 GT3 R, marking his second podium finish of the season. His performance was a testament to the caliber of drivers in the DTM, where excellence was the norm.
Ricardo Feller, who had fought his way from the depths of the grid, held onto third place, showcasing the incredible depth of talent in the championship. He reflected on the elements that had contributed to his astonishing comeback, acknowledging that strategy and a dash of luck had played their part.
The race at the Red Bull Ring was a thrilling spectacle that had it all—adversity, daring moves, and the jubilation of victory. It also saw Thomas Preining closing in on championship leader Mirko Bortolotti, while other drivers like Luca Stolz and Marco Wittmann demonstrated their prowess on the track.
Despite the ups and downs, one thing remained constant—DTM’s ability to deliver exhilarating motorsport moments. As the drivers shared their stories and insights, it was clear that the DTM was living up to its reputation as a pinnacle of motorsport excellence. The stage was set for another day of racing, and the anticipation in the air was palpable, as the world eagerly awaited what the next chapter of the DTM season would bring.
In the midst of this intense battle, it was René Rast, hailing from the serene town of Bregenz, who stood at the forefront. A three-time DTM champion, he had seen it all, but this day was different. Sunday morning had bestowed upon him his 26th pole position, and as the race commenced, the anticipation was palpable. Could he turn this momentous occasion into something extraordinary?
Rast, with the precision of a maestro, guided his BMW M4 GT3 through the circuit’s twists and turns. His lead was impeccable, and he left no room for doubt. The clock was ticking, and the world watched in awe as Rast crossed the finish line, not just to claim his 26th victory in the DTM but to etch his name in the annals of history as he celebrated his debut victory for BMW. It was a perfect performance that would forever be cherished, a memory to circle in his calendar, made even more special by the imminent birth of his son.
His teammate, Sheldon van der Linde, also from Schubert Motorsport, pushed his limits to the edge. But despite his valiant efforts, he crossed the finish line 1.263 seconds behind Rast. It was a remarkable performance, although the title was now tantalizingly out of reach for him.
In contrast, the Porsche driver, Thomas Preining, added a layer of suspense to the championship narrative. With a third-place finish in front of his home crowd, he not only showcased his skill but also reclaimed the lead in the overall standings. The fans, who had flocked to the Red Bull Ring in numbers, were on the edge of their seats, for it was now evident that a three-way battle for the title would unfold at the grand finale at Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg.
The 14th DTM championship round in Spielberg offered a quieter pace compared to the previous day’s hectic race. The leading trio of Rast, Sheldon van der Linde, and Preining held their ground, navigating through the circuit with finesse. A mandatory pit stop strategy played its part, as they completed their stops late, adapting to the first drops of rain. With the track conditions remaining relatively stable, they re-entered the fray on slick tires, defying the weather’s unpredictability.
Meanwhile, Clemens Schmid, behind the wheel of the Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo2, took fourth place, and Marco Wittmann, representing Project 1, secured fifth. However, the biggest twist of fate befell the previous overall leader, Mirko Bortolotti. A puncture sent him plummeting to 21st place, causing a seismic shift in the championship standings as he slipped to second place.
As the engines fell silent, it was clear that this race had altered the course of the DTM season. René Rast’s dazzling victory had not only secured his place in the record books but had also set the stage for an epic title showdown. The interviews with the drivers revealed determination and excitement, as they looked ahead to the finale and the championship battle that lay ahead.
And so, as the sun dipped below the Austrian horizon, the Red Bull Ring had witnessed a day of triumphs, heartaches, and the unwavering spirit of motorsport. The journey to the DTM championship’s climax was reaching its zenith, and the world was on tenterhooks, awaiting the grand finale that would crown the ultimate champion.
Thomas Preining’s third place in race two has put him back to the top of the leaderboard with 190 points with Mirko Bortolotti in second place after a tough weekend with 180 points. The championship will therefore be decided in the final two races at the Hockenheimring taking place on October 19th/20th.
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