The world elite of GT racing gathered in Hockenheim for the DTM test days with 29 professionals from 15 countries. The grid has never been more international in the past 35 seasons of the traditional series and since the DTM’s comeback in 2000 there haven’t been so many race cars on the grid.
The promising season of spectacular motorsport will start in three weeks from April 29 to May 1 on the Portuguese Grand Prix circuit in Portimão. The youngest was the fastest in both the DTM and the DTM Trophy. Sébastien Loeb, René Rast, Mirko Bortolotti, Laurens Vanthoor and defending champion Maximilian Götz – the successful drivers stood behind 19-year-old Marius Zug during the official DTM test in Hockenheim.
Marius Zug, the 19-year-old DTM rookie, surprised everyone on the Hockenheim Grand Prix circuit with the absolute best time in the DTM. In Attempto Racing’s Audi R8, the Pfaffenhofen driver left behind his brand colleague, two-time runner-up Nico Müller (SUI/Team Rosberg), and factory Lamborghini driver Mirko Bortolotti (ITA/Grasser Racing Team), who was one of the favourites, and three-time DTM champion René Rast (GER/Audi/Team ABT), who will return to the DTM after a year.
The fastest Mercedes-AMG driver was Lucas Auer (AUT/Team WINWARD), the fastest in the new BMW M4 was the two-time champion Marco Wittmann (GER/Team Walkenhorst), the fastest Porsche drivers were Austrian Thomas Preining (KÜS Team Bernhard) and Felipe Fraga (BRA) drove the fastest Ferrari of the Red Bull AlphaTauri AF Corse team. Six brands will compete in the 2022 DTM, more than in the early 1990s.
The main focus was on Sébastien Loeb. At the season opener in Portugal, the nine-time World Rally Champion will drive the two sprint races – on Saturday and Sunday from 1.30pm (CEST) – in a Ferrari as reserve driver for Nick Cassidy (NZL). The eyes of the fans were also on David Schumacher, son of former Formula 1 driver Ralf Schumacher, who was allowed to be there for free. The 20-year-old is one of the newcomers to the Mercedes-AMG of the WINWARD team. Nicki Thiim (DEN/Lamborghini) of the Dresden team T3 Motorsport is responsible for a novelty in the long history of the DTM. The two-time FIA World Endurance Champion is the first son of a former title holder to make it to the DTM. And so not only Ralf Schumacher, but also DTM legend Kurt Thiim, champion of 1986, saw his son’s activities on the track and in the pits. Despite the April weather, the 29 DTM drivers completed 3,804 laps in two days, which corresponds to a distance of 17,400 kilometers.
The DTM organization ITR has put together a promising motorsport package under the leadership of Gerhard Berger. Because the DTM Trophy talent factory, the DTM Classic and the BMW M2 Cup as a brand name cup for beginners together with the globally highly regarded DTM form the unique DTM platform, which will also include the DTM Esports and, in the future, the DTM Electric. Hockenheim provided a promising four-day foretaste of the first tryst of the DTM family.
“Hockenheim was a great start to the season. The big DTM family has finally come together again, with many new faces and especially with fans. It would be great if spectators were allowed to enter the stands and paddock again at all races. This is what this sport thrives on and we missed it very much. I can promise all fans: the DTM will deliver spectacular races, especially after the first blows”, Frederic Elsner, Director Event & Operations of the DTM organization ITR, cannot hide his expectation. The ITR used the tests at the Hockenheimring also to extend the contract with series partner Autohero, to present CUPRA as the new Official Car Partner and Al Kamel Systems as the new technology partner for time measurement and track limit control.Also new is that the DTM will be broadcast live on ProSieben for the first time, with the same racing team featuring Andrea Kaiser, Matthias Killing and Eddie Mielke.The new TV pundit alongside Timo Scheider is ex-DTM Champion Mike Rockenfeller.
A rookie also set the tone in the talent factory DTM Trophy, the DTM’s junior league of series-based GT sports cars. Daniel Gregor, who lives less than 60 kilometers from Hockenheim in Maikammer, Palatinate, was the fastest on the test day of the DTM Trophy. For the 16-year-old, it was the first appearance in the Porsche 718 Cayman of the team of former World Long Distance Champion and Le Mans winner Timo Bernhard, who has supported Daniel Gregor since his karting days. The second fastest, Theo Oeverhaus from Osnabrück (BMW/Walkenhorst Motorsport), is only 17 years old, the third fastest Colin Caresani (NLD/BMW/Project 1) is only 18 years old. “The DTM Trophy has a strong field with a high level of performance. The young drivers in particular attracted attention on the test day. That was a perfect preparation for the season,” said Martin Tomczyk. The 2011 DTM champion is the new series manager of the DTM Trophy.
Peter Oberndorfer – the former DTM driver is series manager of the DTM Classic – is also positive about the new season. “It is exciting to launch two new series as part of the DTM Classic, the DTM Cup and the DRM Cup. With over 20 regular entries in both cups and many guest starters entered, I am confident that we will have a good field of entrants with spectacular cars, some of which have not been seen for a long time. Some ex-professionals will also give us credit and set the field on fire.”
The BMW M2 Cup not only used the test day in Hockenheim for many laps on the circuit, but the young drivers, including Lilly Zug, the 16-year-old sister of DTM rookie Marius Zug, were trained in an extensive workshop for the new season trained. “In the junior series, the word has been spread that the BMW M2 Cup is a great stepping stone,” said Nico Amende, BMW M Sales. Four drivers from the 2021 BMW M2 Cup, Louis Henkefend, Colin Caresani, Rodrigo Almeida and Nick Hancke, have been promoted, taking home the 2022 DTM trophy.
images © Foto: Gruppe C Photography