Audi for Porsche: that was the order at the end of the first DTM test day just before the season opener in Portimão. Swiss Ricardo Feller finished fastest in the Team ABT Sportsline Audi R8 with a time of 1m 41.573s ahead of Austrian Thomas Preining (1m 41.658s) with the Porsche 911 of KÜS Team Bernhard.
With 21-year-old Feller, a DTM newcomer set the fastest lap time, just like in the first official DTM test in early April. At Hockenheim, Germany’s Marius Zug, the youngest driver in the field at 19, confirmed his performance on Tuesday with the Attempto Racing Audi with the third fastest time in Portimão. The 29 drivers from the record field of the DTM 2022 will continue the second official test on Wednesday afternoon. The first two of this season’s 16 races will be held on Saturday and Sunday at the 4.653km Algarve circuit (race start at 1.30pm CEST on both days). In the German-speaking area, ProSieben will broadcast the races live, on Saturdays from 12.30pm and on Sundays from 1pm CEST.
“Of course it’s a nice feeling to be the fastest, but I don’t want to be the fastest in the test, I want to be the fastest in qualifying,” said DTM rookie Feller after the tests ended on Tuesday evening. “In any case, it’s very cool in DTM. Professionalism is extreme, the level is unbelievably high.” Thomas Preining, one of the four Austrians in the DTM, was also visibly satisfied. “We have completed our program very well. For today I’m happy with the performance, but we’ll probably see where we really stand in qualifying on Saturday,” said Preining. “As expected, everything is super close,” said his team principal, former endurance world champion and Le Mans winner Timo Bernhard.
Four of the six brands that took part in this year’s DTM were among the top seven places on the first day of testing, alongside Audi and Porsche, BMW and Lamborghini. Fastest with the new BMW M4 was South African Sheldon van der Linde (Schubert Motorsport, 1m 41.919s) in fifth, fastest of the six Lamborghini drivers was newcomer Nicki Thiim (T3 Motorsport, 1m 41.940s) in seventh. “The team didn’t pick up the new car in Italy until Thursday, so we had to run in and tweak the new car a bit,” reported a cheerful Nicki Thiim, son of DTM legend and 1986 champion Kurt Thiim. “It is a privilege what I do here. I really appreciate it. I’m living my dream,” the Dane underlined the significance that his profession and DTM have for him.
Mercedes-AMG, the most successful brand of the previous year, apparently remained inconspicuous at the start of the tests. The fastest driver was Germany’s Luca Stolz of the HRT team who finished in 14th place with a time of 1m 42.167s. One place away was Brazilian Felipe Fraga (1m 42.172s) driving the Ferrari 488 of the Red Bull AlphaTauri AF Corse team. Driver of the second Ferrari was regular driver Nick Cassidy (NZL) on Tuesday, who will hand over the car to nine-time rally world champion Sébastien Loeb on Wednesday. The Frenchman will make his DTM debut this weekend.
Ben Green mingled with the impressive driver field. The 23-year-old Briton won the title in the DTM Trophy, the talent pool on the DTM platform, last season. As a reward, Green was allowed to participate in a DTM test. In the Mercedes-AMG of the championship winning team HRT, Ben Green did well right away. “I have enjoyed every round. The HRT team has been very supportive of me getting to know the Mercedes-AMG and the new track. Due to a technical problem we had to stop a little earlier than planned. Now I’m looking forward to Wednesday when I can attack with new tires,” said Ben Green. “DTM is my undisputed goal and I think I’m getting a little closer to that goal here in Portimão.”
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