We started the Sunday with a special qualifying, five brands on the first five places on the grid. Nico Mueller claimed pole position and made his day perfect with a victory.
In the preview we published earlier, we said this was going to be a special season with a record of brands. Today was a perfect example of it. In the beginning of the session, Mueller was on top. Though, proving the one-lap pace once again, Ferrari’s Felipe Fraga beat him for a moment, stealing the top spot. Not for long though, as Mueller set a time of 1:39.794 which was enough to take his first pole position in nearly two years. ‘This is a very nice feeling’, Mueller said. ‘When you are testing in winter and completing your laps all on your own, you don’t really know how good it is. Admittedly, the feeling was always good, but now getting the confirmation is making me really happy.’
Lamborghini’s Mirko Bortolotti will start from the front row for the second time this weekend, proving the strength of the Lamborghini. Fraga lined up third, followed by BMW’s Sheldon van der Linde and Mercedes’ Lucas Auer. The latter had to add some extra kilos in his car due to DTM’s success ballast rules. 25 kilos for first place, Luca Stolz and Bortolotti have to add 15 and 5 kilos.
Now, moving on to the race. After qualifying on pole, Mueller made a good clean start and managed to drive away from Bortolotti immediately. Then, on the third lap op the race, Fraga made the move on Bortolotti to take second place. While all of this was happening, things got a bit rough in the midfield. Crashes and damages, resulting in cars retiring – Rolf Ineichen, Thomas Preining, Philipp Eng and Nicki Thiim. On the third lap of the race, Luca Stolz also retired his car in the pits. The latter said he got in contact with Maro Engel which caused his front right tyre coming off. Thiim explained he was just unlucky being in the midfield chaos.
Trying a certain strategy, Fraga headed to the pits as soon as the end op lap six. Mueller headed in one lap later, to also rejoin the track in front of Fraga. Another lap later, Bortolotti came in. But all three of them were never able to really challenge or push each other. They cruised to the finish together, finishing on the podium. It is Mueller’s first victory since the 2020 season finale. Also, with Bortolotti finishing third again, this means the Italian leaves Portugal as the championship leader.
Yesterday’s race winner Auer started the race from fifth with his extra ballast. The Mercedes driver made his pitstop on the sixth lap of the race. Then, one lap later, Auer came in again, thinking his tyres weren’t fitted properly. From then on, things went downwards. He stayed on the lead lap, but in the end only finished 22nd, questioning himself what had happened.
Marco Wittmann, one of the drivers who didn’t finish yesterday’s race, managed to finish fourth today. The BMW driver got past Maximilian Gotz on lap 16 with a nice and clean move. Gotz finished fifth, ahead of Kelvin van der Linde. GT3 star Laurens Vanthoor crossed the line in seventh. Ahead of BMW’s Sheldon van der Linde. Completing the top 10 are Abt’s Ricardo Feller and Mercedes’ Engel.
Sadly, Rene Rast finished just outside the points in 12th place. And just like yesterday, we had a number of drivers who retired. Mikael Grenier in the final laps of the race, Stolz, Thiim, Preining, Eng and Ineichen.
The next race will take place at the Lausitzring in Germany from 20-22 May.