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Drivers in Support of Night Race Return

Variety of drivers say that they would welcome back night racing to DTM…

Photo: DTM

Several DTM drivers have said that they would support the reintroduction of night races to the championship following the two-night test session at Portimao last week.

Due to unique circumstances, the series held its final two pre-season tests in the late afternoon and evening.

This was the first time DTM cars ran under dark conditions since a pair of night races held at Misano in 2018.

These races, won by Paul di Resta and Joel Eriksson, turned out to be a one-off and the DTM has not raced in the dark since.

However, following the pair of nightly test sessions, a variety of drivers have said that they would be in favor of the concept returning.

With DTM switching to a GT3-based formula, a good number of the drivers have night racing experience from competing in other major endurance events.

“I would definitely say yes, night racing is always cool,” Schubert Motorsport driver Philipp Eng said.

“Even though it was only a test session, it always feels cool when the sun sets, you switch the high beam on and there is just the light and the race track ahead of you.

“So I think it would be really cool for the show, everybody who watched a 24-hour race knows that the pictures are incredible and very spectacular.

“You see the brake discs glowing and everything.

“So if the DTM comes up with that idea, I would 100 percent be up for the challenge. 

Eng is one of a half dozen drivers who were part of the championship during the Misano night races.

Reigning champion Maximilian Goetz was not in the series in 2018 but was similarly enthusiastic about the idea.

The Mercedes-AMG driver even went as far as to provide suggestions on how the championship could realize it.

“I know how it is to drive by night and as Philipp said already,  this would be a mega event if the DTM comes up with this idea,” Götz said.

“Doing a race late in the day from eight to nine or something like that, and then after having a great concert or party in the paddock with all the spectators, open pit lane and open paddock for everybody.

“I’m hoping that DTM will follow the idea, this would be really, really great.

“We saw this in the past, it worked quite well and I think for spectators, it’s a huge spectacle. So I’m looking forward to talking about this.

“Bringing up this discussion is great and I am fully committed to this.”

A number of other drivers consisting of Marius Zug, Esmee Hawkey, Laurens Vanthoor and Thomas Preining also all reacted positively to the idea of bringing night races back to the series.

If DTM was to seriously consider reintroducing an evening race to the calendar, it would have to make alterations to its schedule.

In 2019, it introduced a uniform start time of 1:30 p.m. CEST for all of its races, which was a measure that also indirectly led to the Misano night races being dropped.

The standard start time endures to this day, meaning the championship would have to make an exception for it to be possible in the first place.

Other drivers, like Grasser Racing Team’s Mirko Bortolotti, are more cautious about the idea of racing under complete darkness.

The Italian suggested to Sportscar365 that a night race might not fit the championship’s action-heavy sprint character.

“Generally speaking, I love to drive at night in endurance racing,” Bortolotti said. “If I think of races like Spa, Daytona, Nurburgring or even the last few stints at Sebring, it’s fantastic to race at night.

“I don’t know if that really could be the right way to go for a championship like DTM, which is sprint.

“There’s so much action going on, it’s a different approach of racecraft.

“From the outside, I would say a sunset race would be really cool. A pure night race probably would not be the way to go in my opinion.

“But something going into sunset for some nice shots for TV, that will be really cool.”

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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