Lamborghini-brings-successful-2023-DTM-season-to-a-close-at-Hockenheim brings successful 2023 DTM season to a close at Hockenheim
Five race wins and second in the drivers’ standings caps off impressive campaign with Huracán GT3 EVO2
Lamborghini ended the DTM season with a double podium finish and second place in both the drivers’ and teams’ championship standings as the season concluded in spectacular fashion at Hockenheim.
SSR Performance’s Mirko Bortolotti arrived at the final round of the year 10 points shy of the overall leader and kept alive his title hopes with a battling fifth place in the first of two one-hour races on Saturday. The Lamborghini Factory Driver, who took three victories in 2023, then took the fight to champion Thomas Preining in the second race, coming up just short but securing second on the road, and in the drivers’ standings.
It marks the most successful season in the DTM for Lamborghini Squadra Corse, with five victories in total and gives fresh motivation to continue to fight for the top prize in German motorsport in 2024.
Having entered the DTM in 2021, Lamborghini expanded from a one-team, two-car effort to five cars across two teams. Long-time Lamborghini partner Grasser Racing Team was joined by SSR Performance, the latter fielding Factory Drivers Mirko Bortolotti and Franck Perera, with Alessio Deledda the third driver. At Grasser, it was a local affair with Austrians Mick Wishofer and Clemens Schmid at the wheel of two Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO2 cars. Later in the year, Lamborghini Young Professional Driver Maximilian Paul, Factory Driver Andrea Caldarelli and former GRT driver Christian Engelhart took over from Paul’s #19 machine.
The season began in fine style as Perera stormed to pole position and victory in the opening one-hour encounter at the Oschersleben circuit. The Frenchman led away off the rolling start, with team-mate Bortolotti vaulting past the Ferrari of Jack Aitken to hold second place. Unfortunately for Bortolotti, a slow pit-stop and a tricky second stint dropped him to eighth at the flag, but Perera cruised to an impressive maiden race win for Lamborghini and the early championship lead.
Zandvoort in the Netherlands played host to round two of the campaign and it was another strong start to the weekend on a track which generally suits the Huracán GT3 car. Perera netted a second podium finish of the year with third, with Bortolotti just behind in fourth. Race two did not go to plan, however, as Bortolotti was the highest-placed Lamborghini in 11th. Following a largely forgetful weekend at the famous Norisring in which sixth place for Bortolotti in race one was the best result, attention then switched to the Nürburgring which produced a clean sweep of victories for Lamborghini.
Bortolotti showcased his and the EVO2’s impressive one-lap pace in qualifying by taking his first pole position of the season, and duly led either side of the pit-window to win the opening race. It was a breakthrough triumph for the Factory Driver, who had taken the Sant’Agata Bolognese firm’s first-ever DTM podium at Assen as a guest entrant in 2021. Ecstasy then turned to disappointment as a crash in qualifying and then a subsequent technical issue forced Bortolotti out of race two, but Lamborghini still celebrated thanks to an unlikely victory for debutant Maximilian Paul. As heavy rain fell in the early stages, Paul made the most of a lower grid position to pit for full wet tyres. It proved to be an inspired call as the young German driver – living a boyhood dream of competing in the DTM – held off waves of attacks to take a shock maiden win and complete a double for Lamborghini in the Eiffel region.
Now with momentum behind him, Bortolotti took the lead of the points standings following a near-perfect weekend at the Lausitzring two weeks later. The SSR Performance driver finished second in the first race, narrowly missing out on the win after an exciting battle for the lead with former team-mate and race-winner Aitken. Sadly, Perera and Deledda retired from the race, with Schmid the highest-placed of the GRT drivers in 11th. The luck for anyone not named Bortolotti continued in race two as Schmid, Paul and Perera failed to make the finish (with Deledda 19th) but the lead driver blitzed the field again in qualifying to take pole and produced a similar drive in the race to claim his second win in as many rounds.
With the title now a realistic target, Bortolotti arrived at the tight and twisty Sachsenring circuit keen to gain as many points as possible. Bortolotti produced a damage limitation exercise in race one, finishing ninth, two places ahead of Perera. Sunday’s race two was a tale which was becoming all too familiar for Bortolotti who took yet another pole position. Never one to back away from tradition, Bortolotti was again imperious in the race and took his third victory of the year, as Perera was upgraded to the podium in third after a post-race penalty for another competitor.
After a disappointing penultimate round of the year at the Red Bull Ring, Bortolotti and SSR Performance entered the season finale as somewhat outsiders for the crown. Bortolotti kept the fight alive in race one, finishing fifth as GRT’s Christian Engelhart claimed a memorable podium in third. Second qualifying was better, with Bortolotti second on the grid. He fended off the BMW of Sheldon van der Linde in the early stages and kept the pressure on Preining throughout the race, finishing just over a second adrift at the end.