That was a show of strength. Franck Perera (F) from the SSR Performance team produced a nerveless performance to claim a dominant start-finish victory in the first DTM race of the season. The former Formula 1 test driver thereby secured the first win in the series for Lamborghini at the opening race of the 37th DTM season. On Saturday, Perera started the race at the Motorsport Arena Oschersleben in first place in the Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo2, controlling the field in a commanding fashion before and after the mandatory pit stop. “This win really means a lot to me. I have had some ups and downs in my career, but I knew that I still had plenty in the tank. The season still has a long way to go but I will enjoy this success and have a beer tonight,” explained the Lamborghini works driver, who is now a permanent driver in the popular race series for the first time after making a guest appearance last year. A “real” newcomer produced a sensational result, as Tim Heinemann from Fichtenberg secured second place in the Porsche 911 GT3 R for Toksport WRT. British driver Jack Aitken claimed the third spot on the podium for himself and his Emil Frey Racing team to mark his DTM debut in the Ferrari 296 GT3.
Key Facts, Motorsport Arena Oschersleben, Race 1 of 16
Track length: 3,667 metres
Weather: 19 degrees, sunny
Pole position: Franck Perera (SSR Performance, Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo2 #94), 1:21.370 min.
Winner: Franck Perera (SSR Performance, Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo2 #94)
Fastest race lap: Ayhancan Güven (Team75 Motorsport, Porsche 911 GT3 R #24), 1:22.629 minutes
The race started in tumultuous fashion. Pole-setter Perera was able to stay in the lead and his team-mate Mirko Bortolotti (I) moved up one place into second, while Swiss driver Ricardo Feller (Abt Sportsline) progressed from fifth to third in the Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo2. Aitken and Heinemann, who made up two positions in his Porsche 911 GT3 R, rounded off the top five. As the race continued, Perera extended his lead to seven seconds and remained in a commanding position even after making a late mandatory pit stop on lap 26. After 44 laps, he crossed the finishing line around four seconds ahead of Heinemann. The Porsche driver benefited from an early tyre change on lap 23, overtaking his rival to move into second place. Aitken had switched his Pirelli tyres even earlier, a tactic that secured him third place. Just before the end, Feller went past René Rast (Schubert Motorsport) into fourth position. Three-time DTM champion Rast claimed the final top five spot in the BMW M4 GT3.
Kelvin van der Linde (ZA/Abt Sportsline) moved up from tenth on the grid to finish sixth in the Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo2, followed by Porsche driver Laurin Heinrich from Team75 Motorsport in seventh. Bortolotti went with the wrong tactics: after a very late pit stop, the Italian driver slipped back from third to eighth place. Christian Engelhart (Toksport WRT) and Dennis Olsen (N/Manthey EMA), both in a Porsche 911 GT3 R, finished in ninth and tenth positions. Turkish driver Ayhancan Güven (Team75 Motorsport) recorded the fastest lap time of 1:22.629 minutes. As the Porsche driver was unable to finish the race, Maro Engel (Mercedes-AMG Team Mann-Filter) scored one point for the second-fastest lap.
The second race will take place on Sunday at 13:30. The German free TV channel ProSieben will be reporting from the Motorsport Arena Oschersleben from 13:00. The DTM is broadcast worldwide to more than 70 countries. The grid order for Sunday’s race is decided in qualifying, which starts at 09:35 and is available to watch on the ran.de livestream and the DTM YouTube channel, as is the race itself.
Franck Perera: “Everything went perfectly. I made a good start and was able to pull away a little. But you really have to pay attention in Oschersleben, especially because there are so many kerbs. I was driving carefully on cold tyres after the pit stop but I was able to defend the lead. It’s a great win for the whole team, but everything starts from scratch again on Sunday.”
Tim Heinemann: “It doesn’t seem real. Racing in the DTM was a dream, seventh place in qualifying was unbelievable, and finishing second with these top drivers is almost surreal. I was able to move up two places and attack from the start. My pace was sensational, but it is difficult to overtake in Oschersleben. The car was brilliant to drive and the pit stop went perfectly. I am just really happy.”
Jack Aitken: “Third place is a good result, but we were aiming to battle for the win after finishing second in qualifying. The start didn’t go so well and then there was contact with another car and I lost a few places. However, the tactic of making an early pit stop worked well. We want to challenge for the win tomorrow.”
Result of 1st Race, Oschersleben
1. Franck Perera (F/SSR Performance)
2. Tim Heinemann (D/Toksport WRT), +3.987 seconds
3. Jack Aitken (GB/Emil Frey Racing), 4.090 seconds
4. Ricardo Feller (CH/Abt Sportsline), 4.573 seconds
5. René Rast (D/Schubert Motorsport), +2.939 seconds