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Auer Leads Mercedes 1-2 to Win at Portimao

Austrian takes advantage of Bortolotti restart mishap to win first race of the year…

Photo: DTM

Lucas Auer has won the first race of the DTM season at Portimao after polesitter Mirko Bortolotti was caught out and lost the lead at a safety car restart.

Bortolotti took the race start from pole position and had to defend from the GruppeM Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo of Mikael Grenier on the opening lap.

Once the Italian was able to keep his Canadian rival behind, he was able to pull a gap as Lucas Auer passed Grenier to take control of second place.

Bortolotti remained out front through the mandatory pitstops until a safety car was called when his teammate Rolf Ineichen came to a halt on track after exiting the pits.

At the restart, the Lamborghini failed to get off the line quickly and lost multiple places with Bortolotti claiming after the race he had “no power.”

This allowed Auer to take the lead ahead of Luca Stolz and Maro Engel, with Bortolotti dropping behind the Abt Sportsline Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo II of Ricardo Feller as well as reigning series champion Maximilian Götz

Bortolotti quickly overtook Götz and Feller to move back up to fourth and then pressured Engel in an attempt to take third place.

The Lamborghini factory driver attempted multiple overtaking maneuvers in the closing minutes of the race, but a defending Engel kept Bortolotti at bay until the Italian was able to take the position with a move into turn one at the start of the final lap.

The chaotic safety car restart that cost Bortolotti victory also led to multiple retirements, with both Felipe Fraga and René Rast being eliminated from the race following nose-to-tail contact that resulted in damage for both cars.

Kelvin van der Linde came up from seventeenth on the grid to finish fifth on the road, moving into the top five when taking the position from teammate Feller shortly after the restart.

He was later promoted to fourth when Maro Engel was handed a five-second penalty for a pitstop infringement, dropping him to tenth.

Dennis Olsen was promoted to fifth ahead of Feller, Sheldon van der Linde and Laurens Vanthoor.

Both Van der Linde and Vanthoor overtook reigning champion Maximilian Götz on lap 25.

Götz finished outside the points in the first race of the year after he was also passed by the BMW M4 GT3 of Philipp Eng, who finished ninth with Götz classified eleventh after Engel’s penalty.

Additionally, both Team Rosberg cars retired with contact in the opening laps of the race while Marco Wittmann and Esmee Hawkey also failed to reach the checkered flag.


Davey Euwema is a Sportscar365 reporter based in The Netherlands, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, DTM, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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