Mirko Bortolotti claimed a hard fought victory at the second and final race of the weekend at the Lausitzring in his #92 SSR Performance Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO2.
After Thomas Preining’s challenging race yesterday, he started this race just five points ahead of his nearest championship contender, and pole-sitter, Mirko Bortolotti.
This one-hour affair proved crucial for the front-runners to manage their tyres at the Lausitzring to conduct not only quick pace, but a perfect pit-stop strategy as well with track conditions warm, sunny and dry.
It was a different story for the BMW marque ahead of lights out, with their best qualifying driver of Rene Rast residing in 15th.
At lights out, Bortolotti retained his pole position into the opening few corners as he fended off ABT Sportsline driver Ricardo Feller who started on the front row with the Lamborghini driver.
Meanwhile behind them, many of the drivers in the midfield were jostling for track position, with Kelvin van der Linde initially being investigated by the race director for a jump start but this was quickly dismissed.
During the opening stages of the race, three Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO2s occupied spots in the top-five positions, as Preining retained his grid spot of fifth in his #91 Porsche 911 GT3.R.
Laurin Heinrich received three penalty laps after causing a collision, whilst Maro Engel in his #48 Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo and Marco Wittmann in the Project 1 #11 BMW M4 GT3 were being investigated for contact between themselves.
Feller was hot on Bortolotti’s tail, keeping him on the edge as the pair contended for the lead with Feller’s #7 Audi showing slightly better pace compared to the #92 Lamborghini as only less than half a second separated both of them throughout the first 20 minutes.
Yesterday’s winner, Jack Aitken, made smooth progress in his #14 Emil Frey Racing Ferrari 296 GT3, after he climbed to eighth place after he started in 11th position.
Just as the pit window opened, where all drivers had 20 minutes to conduct their mandatory pit stop, Clemens Schmid in his #63 Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini had a collision with another Lamborghini driven by Franck Perera who immediately headed for the pit lane.
Schmid lost out in this after he was set to score some valuable points in the #63 SSR Performance machine, and fell back to 13th before pitting.
David Schumacher, driver for the Team WINWARD Racing outfit, faced a problem as he pitted for a second time and retired due to an issue with his #27 Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo, although received a black and white flag earlier for pushing another car.
The top three, Bortolotti, Feller and Preining pitted at the same time, all conducted their stops swiftly and emerged in the same proximity to each other prior to the pitstop.
Luca Stolz in the #4 Team HRT Mercedes-AMG was one of many in the first group of drivers who pitted and took advantage of his warmed-up tyres, to put a move on Preining into third place.
The field shrank to 20 cars with just under 20 minutes remaining, after Ayhancan Guven retired from the race after being the last driver to make his pit stop.
At the front of the field, the heat was around Bortolotti who still led the race closely ahead of Feller and Luca, as one second covered the trio’s battle.
Further back, Aitken put on a defence on van der Linde’s #3 Audi as they both fought for seventh place.
Alessio Deledda, who got himself stuck in the gravel during Qualifying 2 earlier today, and started in last place, continued his struggles as the SSR Performance Lamborghini driver was asked on the team radio to let the leading three cars by him without any efforts to defend.
Feller tried to position himself to grasp the race lead and had to back out of his attempt to ensure he would bring what was a strong points haul, residing fourth in the standings before this race.
Eventually, Bortolotti hustled his way to his second victory this season after claiming his second pole position this morning, also becoming the first repeat race winner in 2023.
In second place was Ricardo Feller in the #7 Audi, followed by Luca Stolz who claimed his first podium this season.
In fourth and fifth places were the Manthey EMA teammates, Preining with a fair points haul in his #91 Porsche 911 GT3.R followed by Dennis Olsen.
Sixth place was claimed by Lucas Auer in his #22 Mercedes-AMG, followed by Jack Aitken in the #14 Emil Frey Racing Ferrari.
Kelvin van der Linde secured eighth place for ABT Sportsline, ahead of two BMWs, Project 1’s Marco Wittmann and Schubert Motorsport’s Rene Rast, who rounded off the top-10 order.
Ultimately, it was Bortolotti who took over the championship lead on 138 points, with Preining now in second position in the standings on 131 points.
The next round of the DTM calendar will be at the Sachsenring, on 8-10 September.