Mirko Bortolotti takes lights-to-flag win on Saturday while Maximilian Paul prevails in wet second race
Lamborghini recorded its 150th victory for the Huracán GT3 courtesy of Mirko Bortolotti who scored his maiden DTM victory in the opening race of the weekend at the Nürburgring.
The SSR Performance driver took pole position in the #92 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO2 in the morning and led throughout, despite a brief rain shower and two safety car periods to come home just over one second clear of Lucas Auer’s Mercedes at the finish.
From the start of the weekend, the pace was already present around the shortened Sprint configuration of the Eifel circuit, with Bortolotti emerging as the fastest Lamborghini in both of the free practice sessions. After setting the fourth quickest time in FP1, the Lamborghini Factory Driver then topped the second session.
Bortolotti continued his strong showing on Saturday morning by pacing the first qualifying session, taking pole position with a time of 1m25.118, a full tenth-and-a-half quicker than the second-placed car. He then maintained his place at the start of the race, fending off the Porsche of Thomas Preining as the field negotiated the tight hairpin. From then, the threat of rain gathered, but the leading runners stayed out on circuit for much of the 15-minute mandatory pit-stop window.
A full course yellow period for a heavy crash at turn one forced Bortolotti and the rest of the field into the pits, but the rain still hadn’t arrived, so SSR Performance fitted slick tyres. During the safety car period, the heavens opened and some further back down the grid elected to pit for wet tyres. Bortolotti stayed on slicks, which turned out to be an inspired choice as the track quickly dried upon racing resumption. He then managed a reducing gap to Auer’s Mercedes in the closing stages, before setting the absolute fastest first sector to ease out to over a second by the finish to take a breakthrough maiden triumph in the DTM.
“It’s an amazing feeling, I think it was a perfect day for us with pole position and a lights-to-flag win,” said Bortolotti post-race. “But it was quite a tough race out there because the weather was changing all the time, we had rain coming so we were never really sure what we were going to do. Making the right call with the tyres was also tough because we are at the Nürburgring, but we made the right calls in the end.”
The victory marked Lamborghini’s 150th GT3 success in the 10th year of the Squadra Corse programme. It is the latest in a series of landmark victories for the Sant’Agata Bolognese firm, the first of which came at Monza in 2015. Since then, Lamborghini went on to achieve its first 24-hour race victory at Daytona in 2018, before repeating the feat the following season. Indeed, in 2019, Lamborghini achieved the unofficial 36 hours of Florida by winning the Sebring 12 Hours as well. A further success at the Daytona 24 Hours in 2020, off the back of a trio of titles in the GT World Challenge Europe series cemented the Huracán’s prowess in GT3. This year, Lamborghini recorded the first victory in DTM and the first for the new Huracán GT3 EVO2.
Rain again played a key role in Sunday’s second race, with tyre choice proving to be a divisive topic among the field. Several cars opted to start on wet weather tyres, including GRT Grasser Racing Team’s Maximilian Paul, elevating those runners to the top of the order. Paul was one of the fastest drivers in the race before the mandatory pit-stop window opened and the German took advantage of a full course yellow period to pit and maintain second place.
With the rain set in for the duration of the race, the Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO2 came alive in the hands of Paul, who closed in on leader Auer and produced a superb overtake down the inside of the hairpin inside the final 10 minutes to seize the lead. From then on, Paul managed to pull out a significant margin of over seven seconds Laurin Heinrich’s Porsche before a late safety car brought the race to a more sedate finish in the final two laps.