This weekend, many spectacular stories will be written during the DTM’s season opener at Portimão’s Portuguese Formula 1 circuit. The spectacular entry of record world rally champion Sébastien Loeb, the comeback of three-time champion René Rast, the historic entry of Porsche.
The 2021 season, the first year with GT3 regulations, was exciting from the first race to the last. Now the DTM, watched around the world, is gearing up for a record season: 29 race cars, more than ever before since the DTM’s comeback in 2000; six high-quality brands, some of which were last in the 1990s, and drivers from 15 countries, another record.
The record speaks for itself: nine-time World Rally Champion Sébastien Loeb is an extraordinary phenomenon behind the wheel, and not just on gravel. Also on the track, the 48-year-old Frenchman has already proven his exceptional skills. Now he faces a new challenge, taking on the best GT drivers with the Ferrari 488 of the Red Bull AlphaTauri AF Corse team. “DTM is a very high level racing formula, the level of the drivers is very strong,” said Loeb. For Loeb, who is filling in for regular New Zealand driver Nick Cassidy at the season opener in Portimão, a points tally would already be a remarkable success as the competition is fierce. And it doesn’t stop there: Loeb even works double duty in Portimão, both as a driver and team principal. In Portimão, his team Sébastien Loeb Racing will participate in the TCR Europe touring car series, part of the support program together with the Spanish Formula 4 and Classic Endurance Racing series.
In addition to Loeb, a unique star ensemble gathers in DTM. Dane Nicki Thiim (Lamborghini Huracán, T3 Motorsport), son of Kurt Thiim, a DTM legend and the 1986 champion, Belgian Laurens Vanthoor (Porsche 911, SSR Performance) and German Maro Engel (Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM) have won 14 titles from the global car federation FIA between them. And the rest of the field includes 16 other international titles, 28 victories in endurance racing classics and six DTM titles. The focus is strongly on the most successful DTM driver of recent years, who returns as a driver after a year’s absence: René Rast with the Audi R8 of the ABT Sportsline team. Like Rast, reigning champion Maximilian Götz also has great respect for the renowned competition. The title defense of the Mercedes-AMG driver, who has made the switch from HRT to WINWARD, is by no means evident.
Audi, BMW, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Mercedes-AMG and Porsche – this brand variant promises exciting duels on the eight circuits where the 2022 DTM races. Ferrari has submitted Brazilian Felipe Fraga for the title fight. BMW also wants to win the title. In 2016, Marco Wittmann won the last DTM title to date for the Munich-based manufacturer. The two-time champion and his three fellow BMW drivers from the Schubert Motorsport and Walkenhorst Motorsport teams rely on the new BMW M4 which has been shining with good results recently. Audi has also optimized its R8 with the second evo package. There are six R8s in the field, including Marius Zug (Attempto Racing), the youngest DTM rookie at 19, who surprised by setting the fastest time during the official testing days at Hockenheim.
Just a year older is David Schumacher, the son of ex-Formula 1 driver Ralf Schumacher, who races one of eight Mercedes-AMGs. Of the six Lamborghini drivers, the only female racer in the field is British Esmee Hawkey, who already scored her first DTM points in 2021. In addition to two Ferraris, there are also three Porsche 911s in the field for the first time. The legendary sports car from Zuffenhausen, run by SSR Performance and KÜS Team Bernhard with World Endurance Champion and Le Mans winner Timo Bernhard as team principal, adds a historic milestone in the 36th DTM season. For the first time since the glory days of the Deutsche Rennsport-Meisterschaft (DRM) in the 1970s, Porsche is challenging for the title in a championship with German roots.
“So many cars, so many great drivers: this promises to be an extraordinary DTM season with sporting achievements at the highest level and a result that is completely open,” said Frederic Elsner, director of events & operations of the DTM organization ITR. start of the season. “The fans on the tracks and the viewers in front of the screens can look forward to a breathtaking motorsport spectacle.”
In Portimão, the first big task awaits the world-class drivers. After all, the 4,653 kilometer course is known as a modern undulating circuit with slopes of up to 12 percent and descents of more than six percent and 15 bends full of variety. Imola is also new to the calendar while Spa-Francorchamps and Red Bull Ring are international highlights. DTM already has its first event in Germany with the second round at Lausitzring, including the Turn 1 spectacular, from 20 to 22 May. Other German rounds will be held at the Norisring in Nuremberg, the Nürburgring and the final of the Hockenheimring.
In 2022, DTM will once again be a global motorsport event. In the German-speaking area, the 16 sprint races will be broadcast live on ProSieben for the first time (always from 13:00 CEST, but exceptionally on Saturday 30 April from 12:30 CEST). In addition, ServusTV is expanding its coverage. In addition, the DTM races are also broadcast worldwide on all continents. All practice sessions can also be viewed on the DTM Grid online stream (grid.dtm.com), also on smartphones. Detailed information can be found on the DTM.com website. Tickets for all races are available through the DTM Ticket Shop (tickets.dtm.com), the DTM Ticket Hotline (+49 1806 991166) and eBay.de.