How Bernhard’s Porsche “underdogs” made DTM historical past

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Standard knowledge means that it’s a lot more durable to achieve success when going it alone than searching in a pack. That applies for beasts within the wild, but additionally to the 2 Porsche squads which have entered the DTM jungle this yr.

One in every of solely two single-car groups within the paddock (the opposite being the Attempto Racing Audi squad working 19-year-old Marius Zug), Group Bernhard’s two-time Le Mans 24 Hours-winning boss Timo Bernhard has good cause to explain his outfit as “underdogs”. He’s forthright in admitting that he has plans to increase for subsequent yr, telling  that “a racing staff works greatest if in case you have two automobiles on the grid”.

If a Porsche was going to win within the Weissach marque’s first season within the championship, sheer weight of chance urged it will be one of many two SSR Efficiency machines steered by embellished GT racer Laurens Vanthoor and hard-charging Norwegian Dennis Olsen, slightly than Thomas Preining’s solo Bernhard entry. As one revered paddock determine extolling the virtues of his model’s data-sharing strategy between a number of automobiles put it on Friday on the Norisring: “Bernhard for instance is one automobile, I feel they’ve extra bother to discover a good stability.”

Not for nothing was this level made – and not using a second automobile within the fold, there may be no selecting the very best end result from a back-to-back comparability in apply. The staff has to roll off robust, or face a weekend scrambling for a spot within the lower-midfield in a deep subject that has averaged 28.25 drivers per spherical this yr.

Each Porsche outfits arrived from Germany’s different GT3 sequence, the well-respected ADAC GT Masters, during which two drivers share a automobile in hour-long dash races. Bernhard had completed runner-up in its 2016 rookie marketing campaign and SSR had received on debut in 2020, earlier than following up with a runner-up end in 2021. By all accounts, there was little to decide on between them apart from that one camp had two automobiles, with Bernhard’s said want to “do the job correctly with the funds and with the probabilities we’ve got” governing his choice to place all his eggs in a single basket for yr one.

However come Saturday afternoon on the Norisring, Bernhard’s choice had paid off spectacularly for it was Preining who was stood on the roof of his 911 GT3 R after scooping victory, main house SSR’s Olsen with Vanthoor fourth. The Austrian additionally claimed the quickest lap for good measure.

“SSR is a really robust contender and so they have two automobiles, they’re a powerful staff, very profitable in GT Masters,” Bernhard says in dialog with throughout the DTM’s summer season break. “So, to get the primary victory of a Porsche in DTM as competitors to them was fairly huge for us.”

Preining took Porsche's first DTM win at the Norisring

Preining took Porsche’s first DTM win on the Norisring

Photograph by: Alexander Trienitz

If ever a circuit would go well with the Porsche, it will be the Norisring because of the emphasis its brief format with hairpins at both finish places on good traction. And it’s not like Bernhard is completely remoted in its set-up strategy, with Vanthoor telling on the Norisring that “there may be open communication and shared knowledge” between the 2 outfits, even when “not every part is shared”.

Nonetheless, it will be vastly over-simplifying issues to pin Bernhard and Preining’s success merely on the character of the brief 1.429-mile observe. That’s as a result of the staff made a breakthrough within the earlier spherical at Imola, the place Preining solely misplaced a race one podium on the penultimate lap to a charging Mirko Bortolotti, after Bernhard had examined the automobile at Hockenheim. Preining had comfortably outpaced the SSR automobiles in qualifying at Imola to take third – Olsen was eleventh and Vanthoor fifteenth – and advised his race outcome was “undoubtedly the very best we might have achieved”.

“It’s not potential to essentially absolutely max out your potential each weekend, we simply managed to try this right now,” a content material Preining added.

“We had fairly a change when it comes to efficiency after we went to Imola. When you break it down on time, it’s in all probability two tenths which we discovered there, however this boosts you up from P15 to P3 on quali and that is actually the superb element of what we’ve got to do in DTM” Timo Bernhard

Not presenting himself to be weighed after qualifying for race two the next day meant he was demoted to the again of the grid, and he was worn out early on by a brake-less Rolf Ineichen’s Lamborghini. It was a bitter finish to a weekend during which Bernhard says “we didn’t do very a lot when it comes to set-up, simply small issues,” however the clear indicators of progress in Italy have been a telling increase for the entire squad.

“I believed as soon as we’ve got it on paper, that we’ve got this outcome, it could actually increase us much more,” he says. “We have been these underdogs and after getting it on paper, the outcome, it offers one other increase to the entire operation.”

Bernhard stresses that 23-year-old Preining “felt the best issues” within the automobile and there was “nothing essentially improper” regardless of the 2018 German Carrera Cup champion’s lack of factors previous to Imola – a puncture within the opening Lausitzring race thwarting its greatest run within the opening 4 races.

However utilising his immense expertise of element work and set-up work on quite a few Porsche improvement programmes, together with the 919 Hybrid LMP1 automobile he drove to the 2015 World Endurance Championship title, was a no brainer. And the five-time Nurburgring 24 Hours winner has current GT3 expertise too, having contested the 2018 and 2019 GT Masters seasons and received as soon as alongside Klaus Bachler, fittingly on the ’Ring.

Team boss Bernhard got behind the wheel at Hockenheim, which helped the team's upturn in form at Imola

Group boss Bernhard acquired behind the wheel at Hockenheim, which helped the staff’s upturn in kind at Imola

Photograph by: DTM

“I felt already from the beginning of the yr that we’ve got an excellent mixture when it comes to automobile, staff and in addition Thomas,” explains Bernhard, who ran Preining in GT Masters final yr. “For me, it was not a scarcity of belief [in Preining that he decided to test the car himself].

“Quite the opposite, it was simply to assist in giving enter as a result of I used to be not solely doing set-up, I used to be serving to to develop full automobiles. There was a supply of affect and enter which was useful for us simply to type out some small issues on set-up and instructions which was in step with Thomas.

“I feel that helped as properly that we had fairly a change when it comes to efficiency after we went to Imola. When you break it down on time, it’s in all probability two tenths which we discovered there, however this boosts you up from P15 to P3 on quali and that is actually the superb element of what we’ve got to do in DTM.

“Ever since then we simply discovered just a little little bit of tempo, of belief for Thomas after which he might execute and drive the automobile how he needed to have it. That is precisely what you’re in search of in DTM.”

Whereas he acknowledges that Preining has areas he can enhance, Bernhard has a excessive opinion of his cost, instantly citing “uncooked expertise” as his strongest attribute. Bernhard reckons he has “already confirmed that the format of single driver in a automobile and dealing with the staff and stuff, it suits to him”.

Within the DTM, optimising the complete potential of the automobile is extra vital than different endurance-based sequence utilizing the identical GT3 automobiles, the place there may be extra time to make up for a sub-par qualifying efficiency. Bernhard’s view is echoed by feedback from Porsche’s GT3 venture supervisor Sebastian Golz, who not too long ago advised’s sister web site Motorsport-Whole that Preining is “a qualifier, that must be mentioned”.

“You don’t should make any compromise, it’s important to discover these final hundredths,” continues Bernhard. “It is a totally different strategy which is equally as troublesome, however it’s just a bit little bit of a special precedence and I feel this type of surroundings fits him properly.

Bernhard says Preining's speed and style are second to none

Bernhard says Preining’s velocity and magnificence are second to none

Photograph by: Porsche Motorsport

“I watch on-board cameras from all my drivers as a result of it pursuits me as a former driver, or nonetheless as a driver, but additionally to determine the type they’ve, what they want, what we may help with and the place they will additionally be taught. Once I watch his on-board, he’s one of many only a few drivers I needed to say ‘Okay, he is aware of what he’s doing when it comes to type’ and it simply suits collectively.”

Preining has already hit Bernhard’s said goal of successful a race and is justifying his pre-season confidence of blending it with the sequence’ grandee groups from the Class One period. And Bernhard believes extra success is on the playing cards within the second half of the season on the Nurburgring, Pink Bull Ring, Spa and Hockenheim.

“I feel for the rest of the season we generally is a robust contender, nonetheless from the highest 5 positions, and we wish to be on the rostrum. That’s undoubtedly the place I feel that we may be” Timo Bernhard

“Thomas could be very proficient, however he didn’t have the identify in all probability exterior of Germany or Austria,” says Bernhard. “Many individuals in all probability didn’t know him in that context, so I mentioned earlier than the primary race already that he can shock folks. I understand how good he’s.

“I feel for the rest of the season we generally is a robust contender, nonetheless from the highest 5 positions, and we wish to be on the rostrum. That’s undoubtedly the place I feel that we may be.”

Discover is definitely being taken of the staff now. Bernhard says he has “drivers mainly from different continents being to run in DTM” and remarks that the suggestions he acquired after the Norisring “was large, throughout, even from F1 staff bosses that I do know”.

“It’s why I felt it’s a serious achievement to be the very first staff that wins a DTM race for Porsche,” he says, happy. “In the long run it’s like this effort paid off, it was good to see that lots of people have been congratulating and appreciating the trouble we do.”

Not dangerous for a so-called underdog…

Bernhard believes that Norisring won't be a flash in the pan and Preining can achieve more success this year

Bernhard believes that Norisring will not be a flash within the pan and Preining can obtain extra success this yr

Photograph by: Porsche Motorsport


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