With Thomas Preining (AUT, KÜS Team Bernhard) and local hero Laurens Vanthoor (BEL, SSR Performance) a Porsche driver came out on top in each of the two DTM free practice sessions at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on Friday. Preining’s time of 2m 17.786s in second free practice was the fastest time of the day among DTM’s 27 world-class drivers at the 7.004 kilometres Grand Prix track in the Belgian Ardennes, the venue for the sixth and third-to-last race weekend of the current season.
Right before the start of first free practice, the BMW M4 of Belgian driver Esteban Muth was presented in the pit box of the Walkenhorst Motorsport team. For his home race, Muth is running a special livery on his race car, designed by Belgian Princess Delphine de Saxe-Cobourg. The princess unveiled the car together with the driver who was apparently boosted by the prominent support from the Belgian royal family: in second practice, Muth achieved his best result of the year so far with eighth place. His compatriot Laurens Vanthoor turned out to be in strong form as well: in first practice, he ended up fastest with the SSR Porsche, in the second session he was classified third behind Norisring winner Thomas Preining and Nürburgring winner Luca Stolz (GER, HRT Mercedes-AMG). The fastest BMW driver was Philipp Eng (AUT, Schubert Motorsport), fastest Audi driver was Nico Müller (SUI, Team Rosberg). Points’ leader Sheldon van der Linde (RSA) was ninth in the late afternoon session with the Schubert BMW while his main rival, Mirko Bortolotti, had been third-fastest in the earlier session with the GRT Lamborghini.
“A good start of the weekend,“ a delighted Thomas Preining said. “There surely are one or two points in which we can improve for Saturday, but fundamentally, this is a super basis. It can continue like this.”
DTM Trophy: Jacob Riegel fastest with Speed Monkeys Aston Martin
In the talent pool DTM Trophy, Porsche drivers also set the pace for a long time. In the wet first practice session, the two KÜS Team Bernhard drivers locked out the first two places with 16-year-old Daniel Gregor (GER) on top with a time of 2m 39.493s, 0.748 seconds faster than his teammate Ricky Capo (AUS). Next up were Marc de Fulgencio (ESP, FK Performance BMW) und Rodrigo Dias Almeida (MOZ, BWT Mücke Mercedes-AMG). In second practice, it was dry for most of the time, resulting into lap times that were almost six seconds faster. Once again, Gregor and Capo held the first two places for KÜS Team Bernhard for a long time, but in the closing stages, Jacob Riegel (GER) drove his Aston Martin of the Speed Monkeys team to a time of 2m 33.376s, the fastest time of the day. Gregor and Capo followed in second and third place from a quartet of BMW drivers with Theo Oeverhaus (GER, Walkenhorst Motorsport), Colin Caresani (NED, Project 1), Marc de Fulgencio and Louis Henkefend (GER, Project 1).
Spa-Francorchamps: a packed programme with seven series and 14 races
Racing enthusiasts can look forward to a packed programme with seven series and a total of 14 races across Saturday and Sunday at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps. Next to DTM as the top act, the DTM Trophy talent pool and DTM Classic with historic touring cars from the years between 1984 and 2007, the entry-level one-make series BMW M2 Cup, Lotus Cup Europe, Ferrari Club Deutschland Racing Series and MAXX Formula are present in the Ardennes as well.