Rene Rast claimed a dominant, unchallenged DTM Race 2 victory ahead of teammate Sheldon van der Linde, as Preining reclaimed the championship lead at the Red Bull Ring.
Round 14 of the 2023 DTM championship continued the excitement from yesterday, bringing the curtain down on this weekend’s racing action before a nearly month-long wait for the season finale at Hockenheim.
Unlike yesterday’s rain-stricken event, the Red Bull Ring was dry status which welcomed quicker lap times and less weather-related tension.
Rene Rast took a record-breaking 26th DTM pole position for Schubert Motorsport, and the team locked out the front row in qualifying thanks to Sheldon van der Linde.
In regards to the close championship title fight, second-placed Thomas Preining started fourth at his home race and standings leader Mirko Bortolotti started ninth in his Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO2.
If they finished where they started, then the pair would have drawn equal on 187 points, though with Bortolotti in P1 on countback.
At lights out, the Schubert Motorsport drivers started well and controlled the lead, whilst Race 1 winner Kelvin van der Linde dropped back from his starting position when he spun his #3 Audi R8 LMS GT3 EVO2, triggered by contact with Tim Heinemann’s #9 Toksport WRT Porsche.
There was disaster for Bortolotti, as he fell to the back of the field after picking up a puncture from contact with the other Toksport WRT Porsche of Marvin Dienst.
This forced Bortolotti to make a non-mandatory pit stop, in addition to the mandatory pit stop he’d later have to take during the 20-minute pit window.
Meanwhile, his rival Preining had the upper hand after he moved up into third, taking advantage of Jack Aitken’s uncompetitive getaway at the green flag and distancing himself from the contact behind.
During the opening laps, Rast built upon his 1-second lead ahead of teammate S. van der Linde.
Several battles took place across the midfield, such as yesterday’s pole-sitter Laurin Heinrich who fought for P16 with Patric Niederhauser.
The highest-placed #63 Grasser Racing Lamborghini of Clemens Schmid was passed by Marco Wittmann in his #11 Project 1 BMW, having taken fourth position with a swift overtake.
Both Emil Frey Racing Ferrari 296 GT3s rode in eighth and ninth, looking to fend off Bortolotti’s SSR Performance teammate – Franck Perera – who dropped to 10th after he started in seventh position.
After 20 minutes of racing, a 20-minute-long pit window opened for drivers to strategically conduct their mandatory pit stop, like third-placed championship contender Ricardo Feller in his #7 ABT Sportsline Audi.
A few raindrops began to fall on the track, but not enough for drivers to prefer the grooved wet tyres over slicks during the pit window.
Wittmann’s pit stop was slightly prolonged as his pit crew struggled to fit his new tyres, although he emerged ahead of Schmid who pitted as well, to initiate a duel for ninth, before Preining climbed his way past.
S. van der Linde pitted from second and maintained the position before his teammate Rast did the same from the lead, continuing a confident, mistake-free run at the front.
Twenty minutes remained of the 1-hour race, which marked the closure of the pit stop window.
The positions at the sharper end of the field settled as further back, Lucas Auer in the #22 Team Winward Mercedes-AMG GT3 EVO attacked his teammate, Maro Engel, and jumped into 11th position.
K. van der Linde was among the four retirees from this race, not being able to match his race-winning performance from yesterday.
The same could be said for the other Audis, as Feller resided in the highest place of P15, and was challenged by Luca Engstler’s #8 Mercedes-AMG behind during the final minutes.
After dominant form since starting on pole, Rast claimed victory ahead of S. van der Linde, securing a 1-2 finish for the Schubert Motorsport team.
Third place was taken by Preining who took 16 championship points, re-taking the championship lead from Bortolotti.
He occupies a 10-point lead in the standings with 190 points, against Bortolotti’s 180 after scoring no points in Race 2.
Feller finished in 15th place, and so claimed one point to take his championship points total to 159.
In fourth position was Wittmann, ahead of Preining’s Manthey EMA teammate, Dennis Olsen.
Schmid was in sixth position, the highest finishing spot out of the five participating Lamborghinis.
Ayhancan Güven took seventh place in the #24 Team75 Motorsport Porsche.
Both Emil Frey Racing Ferraris finished in eighth and ninth positions, with Aitken ahead of Thierry Vermeulen.
Arjun Maini’s #36 Team HRT Mercedes-AMG rounded out the top-10 finishers at the Red Bull Ring.
The final two races take place next month at the Hockenheimring, on 20-22 October, where a champion will be crowned.