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Preining ‘Happy to Be in One Piece’ After First Lap Scare

Thomas Preining explains scary Eau Rouge moment at the start of Saturday’s DTM race…

Photo: DTM

Thomas Preining says he was relieved to escape from a frightening moment through Eau Rouge and Raidillon on the opening lap of Saturday’s DTM race that saw the Austrian fully sideways after contact with Lucas Auer.

Preining started from the front row aboard the No. 24 KÜS Team Bernhard Porsche 911 GT3 R but lost ground at the start, resulting in him going into Eau Rouge side-by-side with Mercedes-AMG Team Winward driver Lucas Auer.

A touch resulted in Preining losing control of his car before snapping back to the left and shooting across the track, avoiding further contact with the rest of the field before regaining control of the car after briefly running through the grass on the inside.

Preining ultimately recovered to finish third behind Dennis Olsen and Maximilian Goetz, but felt glad he was able to escape from the lap one scramble unscathed.

“I have to review the footage properly, but I was all the way to the left so I think I was just squeezed a bit too much and ran out of space,” Preining commented.

“Then obviously after the hit I had quite a big spin but luckily I managed to save it. It is never nice if you are sideways in Eau Rouge with 25 cars behind you.

“We’ve seen many things happen in that scenario, so I’m just very glad we could keep going with no big damage.

“Obviously getting the podium after was good too, but the safe itself was for sure spectacular. Not sure how it happened, to be honest.”

Preining added: “I’m mainly just super happy about still sitting here in one piece and also the podium.”

The Porsche factory driver admitted after the race that it took him some time to regain his composure but also noted the slide forced him to pit early due to the damage to his Michelin tires.

“I’ve had a few moments in my career, obviously,” Preining said.

“Normally it is not an issue at all, but this one took me a lap or two to process and also obviously the tires were extremely flat spotted.

“If you drift at such a high speed for a hundred meters or I don’t know how long, for sure it is not good for the tires.

“But as I said we managed the situation well.

“We obviously took quite an early pitstop and gained a few positions on track.

“So I think the podium is definitely well earned today.”

Goetz Saw “Massive Moment” Coming

Goetz, who ran directly behind Auer and Preining when the contact occurred, explained that he anticipated the contact between the two competitors.

The reigning champion noted that he was hoping for either driver to lift out of the corner to avoid contact, but neither did.

“I was just behind and saw them side by side,” Goetz explained.

“Lucas was on the inside, you [Thomas] were on the outside and nobody gave up.

“I hoped somebody would give up but nobody did and I thought this was going to end up in a spin or crash because there was only one dry line.

“Then I lifted already and at that moment he spun to the inside. I slowed down a bit to not get hit by him.

“I got a windscreen full of mud and put the wipers on. It was a massive moment even behind it, but in the end luckily it ended well.”

Davey Euwema is Sportscar365's European Editor. Based in The Netherlands, Euwema covers the FIA World Endurance Championship, European Le Mans Series and Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS, among other series.

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