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

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Typical knowledge means that it’s a lot tougher to achieve success when going it alone than looking 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.

Considered one 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 motive to explain his outfit as “underdogs”. He’s forthright in admitting that he has plans to broaden for subsequent yr, telling Autosport that “a racing staff works finest when 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 prompt it will be one of many two SSR Efficiency machines steered by adorned GT racer Laurens Vanthoor and hard-charging Norwegian Dennis Olsen, relatively 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 hassle to discover a good steadiness.”

Not for nothing was this level made – with out a second automobile within the fold, there may be no selecting the most effective consequence from a back-to-back comparability in observe. The staff has to roll off sturdy, or face a weekend scrambling for a spot within the lower-midfield in a deep discipline that has averaged 28.25 drivers per spherical this yr.

Each Porsche outfits arrived from Germany’s different GT3 collection, the well-respected ADAC GT Masters, through 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 gained 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 aside from that one camp had two automobiles, with Bernhard’s acknowledged want to “do the job correctly with the price range and with the probabilities we now have” governing his determination to place all his eggs in a single basket for yr one.

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

“SSR is a really sturdy contender they usually have two automobiles, they’re a robust staff, very profitable in GT Masters,” Bernhard says in dialog with Autosport in the course of 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 swimsuit the Porsche, it will be the Norisring as a result of emphasis its quick 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 Autosport on the Norisring that “there’s open communication and shared knowledge” between the 2 outfits, even when “not every part is shared”.

Nevertheless, it will be vastly over-simplifying issues to pin Bernhard and Preining’s success merely on the character of the quick 1.429-mile monitor. 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 informed Autosport his race end result was “positively the most effective we may have completed”.

“It’s not attainable to actually totally max out your potential each weekend, we simply managed to try this as we speak,” a content material Preining added.

“We had fairly a change by way of efficiency after we went to Imola. In case 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 effective element of what we now have 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 through which Bernhard says “we didn’t do very a lot by way of 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 now have it on paper, that we now have this end result, it might increase us much more,” he says. “We have been these underdogs and upon getting it on paper, the end result, it provides one other increase to the entire operation.”

Bernhard stresses that 23-year-old Preining “felt the proper 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 finest run within the opening 4 races.

However utilising his immense expertise of element work and set-up work on quite a few Porsche growth 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 gained 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 type at Imola

Photograph by: DTM

“I felt already from the beginning of the yr that we now have an excellent mixture by way of automobile, staff and likewise 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 kind out some small issues on set-up and instructions which was in keeping with Thomas.

“I feel that helped as effectively that we had fairly a change by way of efficiency after we went to Imola. In case 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 effective element of what we now have to do in DTM.

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

Within the DTM, optimising the complete potential of the automobile is extra necessary than different endurance-based collection utilizing the identical GT3 automobiles, the place there’s extra time to make up for a sub-par qualifying efficiency. Bernhard’s view is echoed by feedback from Porsche’s GT3 challenge supervisor Sebastian Golz, who lately informed Autosport’s sister web site Motorsport-Complete that Preining is “a qualifier, that must be mentioned”.

“You don’t should make any compromise, it’s a must to discover these final hundredths,” continues Bernhard. “This can be a completely different strategy which is equally as tough, nevertheless it’s just a bit little bit of a distinct precedence and I feel this type of atmosphere fits him effectively.

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 fashion they’ve, what they want, what we will 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 by way of fashion’ and it simply matches collectively.”

Preining has already hit Bernhard’s acknowledged intention of profitable a race and is justifying his pre-season confidence of blending it with the collection’ 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 is usually a sturdy contender, nonetheless from the highest 5 positions, and we need to be on the rostrum. That’s positively the place I feel that we may be” Timo Bernhard

“Thomas may 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 is usually a sturdy contender, nonetheless from the highest 5 positions, and we need to be on the rostrum. That’s positively the place I feel that we may be.”

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

“It’s why I felt it’s a significant achievement to be the very first staff that wins a DTM race for Porsche,” he says, glad. “Ultimately it’s like this effort paid off, it was good to see that lots of people have been congratulating and appreciating the hassle 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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