Mirko Bortolotti took his first DTM win, plus his first DTM podium of the season, in race 1 of the weekend at the Nurburgring, after starting from pole in the Eifel.

He dominated the race, leading every lap apart from a lap in the middle when he stopped earlier than some others when the race was under safety car.

The Italian retained the lead at the start, with Manthey EMA’s Thomas Preining, who started alongside him on the grid also keeping hold of second. However, more bad luck befell Kelvin van der Linde,m who started third. He was alongside Preining, on the outside of the Austrian driver, going into T1.

But Bortolotti’s teammate Franck Perera, starting sixth, missed his braking point for the hairpin and punted the South African, sending the Abt Sportsline Audi into a spin, dropping him to the back of the field whnile Perera continued.

This promoted K. van der Linde’s teammate Ricardo Feller to third, with Jack Aitken in the Emil Frey Racing Ferrari 296 GT3 in fifth.

This was the way it stayed for the first 20 minutes, with Perera receiving a penalty lap for his culpability in punting K. van der Linde, and dropping him down the order.

However, the rain, so often a feature in races at the Nurburgring, was coming. When the pitstop window opened, the pit lane only had one visitor, Lauren Heinrich from the midfield, with most choosing to stay out in order to only need to pit once if, or when, the rain came.

30 minutes into the hour-long race and only one more driver had pitted, Aitken from fifth. However, just a lap after the Brit stopped for a new set of slicks, Christian Engelhart lost his Toksport Porsche at the entry to T1, spinning across the track and colliding with an entirely blameless Ayhancan Guven, in the Team Bernhard Porsche, who had just reached the apex of the tight hairpin which starts the lap.

Both cars were immediately out, with the two Porsches having made contact at the rear of each, causing the diffuser bodywork to come off both revealing the gearbox and innards of the new 992 Porsche 911 GT3 R.

The safety car was immediately deployed, and as Engelhart aplogised to a slightly winded Guven after they both climbed out of their cars, almost the entire field, including Bortolotti, Preining and Feller, in the top three positions, pitted, with everyone taking slicks as the rain was not quite heavy enough for wet weather tyres.

They all lined up in a snake formation behind the safety car, but the period under caution was extended when Bortolotti and Perera’s SSR Performance teammate, Alessio Deledda, went off at turn 1. With his car needing to be recovered out of harm’s way, it wasn’t until a few laps later when the safety car returned to the pit lane.

At the restart, with the rain now having eased, SSR had played their cards well, with Perera, a lap down after his penalty, second on track behind Bortolotti. As DTM has no wave around procedure before the safety car comes in, this meant Perera could back the field up before the restart and let his teammate pull a large gap in the lead. The stewards later announced that this behaviour from SSR and Perera would be investigated after the race.

With Bortolotti now 2 seconds to the good up the road, Lucas Auer, who sat fourth after a strong pit stop moved him up the order, passed both Feller and Preining at the turns 1, 2, and 3 complex, elevating him to second, with Preining third, Feller fourth, and Preining’s teammate Dennis Olsen fifth.

Try as he might, Feller couldn’t find a way past Preining, and had to settle for fourth, with Preining taking the final stop on the podium.

Auer, meanwhile, was catching Bortolotti, with the gap under a second with two laps to go. The Italian responded, however, and kept the lead of the race until the end, to take his first DTM win.

With Auer third, 1.2 seconds off, third fell to Preining, extending his championship lead over Sheldon van der Linde, who finished seventh.

Feller was fourth, with Olsen fifth. The Norwegian had been told to catch and pass Feller if he could, to relieve the pressure on his teammate, but he didn’t quite have the pace.

Marco Wittmann was sixth for Project 1 BMW, with S. van der Linde seventh for Schubert Motorsport BMW. Eighth was his brother Kelvin, who had recovered well from the back of the field after the first lap.

Patric Niederhouser was ninth, with Thierry Vermeulen in the Emil Frey Racing Ferrari rounding out the top 10.

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