The stage is set for a new era: This weekend (26th to 28th May), the DTM kicks off its 39th year with not one but two firsts at Motorsport Arena Oschersleben. The popular racing series will kick off the season in the Magdeburger Börde region for the first time, and is also organised by the ADAC for the first time. After an absence of eight years, Motorsport Arena Oschersleben returns to the DTM calendar. With its winding layout, the circuit demands the upmost concentration from the drivers, as they battle for the first two wins of the new campaign. A total of 14 teams, with drivers from eleven countries and cars from six premium manufacturers – Audi, BMW, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Mercedes-AMG and Porsche – will go head to head in the new season.
Key facts, Motorsport Arena Oschersleben, races 1 and 2 of 16
Circuit length: 3,667 metres
Layout: 14 corners (seven right, seven left), driven clockwise
2015 winner, race one: Timo Glock (BMW Team MTEK, BMW M4 DTM 2015)
2015 winner, race two: Tom Blomqvist (BMW Team RBM, BMW M4 DTM 2015)
Defending champion Sheldon van der Linde (ZA) is one of the top favourites at the home event for his championship-winning team Schubert Motorsport and the successful BMW M4 GT3. “The expectations of the Schubert Motorsport team and me are obviously high, that much is clear. Despite this, the clear goal is to defend my title. The track in Oschersleben is pretty narrow and twisty. As a driver, this means you do not have any time to switch off mentally. We are superbly prepared and I am looking forward to the start of the season,” says van der Linde.
His team-mate and three-time DTM champion René Rast (D) is another man with title aspirations, as is Lucas Auer (A) in the Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo of Winward Racing. However, the official test days at the Red Bull Ring highlighted the high standard of the DTM. The fastest man at those tests, Maro Engel (D) of Mercedes-AMG Team Mann-Filter, is another to be reckoned with, along with two-time DTM champion Marco Wittmann (D), who lines up in a BMW M4 GT3 for Project 1. The same can be said of Italian Mirko Bortolotti of SSR Performance in the new Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo2.
Another man looking to have a say at the front of the field is Ricardo Feller (Abt Sportsline). The 22-year-old Swiss claimed his maiden DTM victory last year in an Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo2. A number of debutants will also be looking to spring a few surprises: talented youngsters like the two Germans Jusuf Owega of Mercedes-AMG Team BWT and Laurin Heinrich (KÜS Team Bernhard) in the Porsche 911 GT3 R, and former Formula 1 driver Jack Aitken (GB/Emil Frey Racing) in the Ferrari 296 GT3 are capable of finishing on the podium at any time.
Nine drivers will make their DTM debuts in Oschersleben. They include Dutchman Thierry Vermeulen (Emil Frey Racing) in a Ferrari 296 GT3. At just 20 years of age, the son of the manager of two-time Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen is the youngest starter in Oschersleben, followed by 21-year-old Owega. Laurin Heinrich will be a good seven months older when he makes his DTM debut. Awaited with great anticipation is the first appearance of Tim Heinemann (D/Team Toksport WRT), who started out in sim racing before making it into the DTM. He starts in a Porsche 911 GT3 R.
New teams and familiar faces
Swiss team Emil Frey Racing contests its first DTM season this year with two brand-new Ferrari 296 GT3. Mercedes-AMG Team BWT and Mercedes-AMG Team Mann-Filter are also making their debuts. Newcomers Project 1 field the BMW M4 GT3, while Toksport WRT are putting their faith in the latest generation of the Porsche 911 GT3 R in their rookie season. The Manthey EMA team is another running the current 911 on its return to the DTM after over 20 years. Manthey is cooperating with Australian racing team EMA Motorsport on its new venture. Liqui Moly Team Engstler Motorsport makes its debut with an Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo2, while SSR Performance is the only team with three cars. The Abt Sportsline has the longest history in the DTM, having featured on the starting grid since 2000.
Strong support programme
Besides thrilling DTM action, spectators can also look forward to an exciting support programme. As well as the 450-hp LMP3 cars in the Prototype Cup Germany, fans in Oschersleben can also enjoy the opening round of this season’s BMW M2 Cup. The talented and aspiring youngsters in ADAC GT4 Germany will also go head to head for the first time this season in the Motorsport Arena.