On the way to the top.
The Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) drew 30 drivers to the Dutch North Sea and the 4,259-kilometer-long Circuit Zandvoort. A challenging track with quite a few banked curves. Two DTM races on two consecutive days would challenge the four Porsche Teams and six drivers. The temperatures already offered ideal track conditions, as long as the wind would not blow the sand from the beach onto the track.
On Saturday, the Porsche Teams started from the back rows. In the Manthey EMA Porsche 911 GT3 R #91, Thomas Preining started from 10th spot, while Ayhancan Güven in the #24 went into the race for Team75 Motorsport from a row behind him. Preining's team colleague Dennis Olsen drove into the race in the #90 from 18th spot and Güven's team colleague Laurin Heinrich went into the flying start in the #75 from starting spot 20. The two Toksport WRT driver Tim Heinemann (#9) and Christian Engelhart (#99) each started from spots 22 and 25.
Directly in the first two minutes, smokes began to develop around the right front tire of Laurin Heinrich – due to coming in contact with the rear of the #27 Mercedes-AMG, his bodywork was grinding against the tire. At the time, he had been on 20th position and in a duel against the sister car #90 of Dennis Olsen on 21st position. As the smoke began to subside, there was a short glimmer of hope that he would be able to continue, but his Porsche 911 GT3 R was slowing down and a curve revealed why: His right front tire had burst from the friction. He retired in the further course of the race.
While the #75 was crawling toward pitlane, Thomas Preining in the #91 went in for the attack against the BMW ahead of him and managed to improve his position by one spot. But the BMW regained the position directly in the first turn. The duel between the two would continue for the following rounds.
Meanwhile, both Toksport WRT vehicles were on the way to the center of the grid: Tim Heinemann in the #9 was battling the Audi #7 ahead, advancing by one spot onto 17 as a result. Dennis Olsen in the #90 also improved his position and got in front of an Audi.
In the #91, Thomas Preining was put under pressure by the Audi behind him, all while tracking the BMW ahead. This duel went on for a few rounds until the Audi #3 caught up to him, after his rear slightly skidded off into the gravel pit of a curve.
The Toksport WRT #9 also lost a previously gained spot against the Audi #7. At this time, race control announced that the pits were open. The middle of the grid entered first, among them Dennis Olsen in the Manthey EMA Porsche 911 GT3 R #90. He returned onto position 25 from the pit, but 20 other vehicles were still due to enter.
In the next group of vehicles entering the pit was Ayhancan Güven in the #24. As he was exiting, he attempted to get in front of a BMW, but only came up on the same height and was forced to dropped behind his opponent due to speed limits on pit exit. This got him a warning from race control.
After all vehicles had gone through the pit, the grid was resorted for the halftime: Thomas Preining in the #91 was on seventh, Ayhancan Güven in the #24 on 12th position, Tim Heinemann moved up to 15th spot with the #9, while Dennis Olsen was on 17th with the #90 and Christian Engelhart was on 24th spot with the #99.
The pit phase had loosened up the grid, but the lap times of the Manthey EMA #91 were improving by the minute – Thomas Preining was on the hunt for the Mercedes-AMG #22 on sixth position.
Roughly 20 minutes before the race was due to end, Ayhancan Güven was forced to defend his position on 12 throughout multiple curves against the Audi #3. In the first turn, he managed to stay ahead of his opponent, but in the following right turn, the Audi managed to get onto the inside curve. But Güven did not give up: In the following left turn, he stuck to the inside and came up on the same height as the Audi. Right after, they entered a banked curve and Ayhancan Güven came ahead of the #3 – position 12 was his to keep.
Shortly after, Dennis Olsen in the Manthey EMA #90 and Tim Heinemann in the Toksport WRT #9 came under pressure: Both were in a tight group with the #36 ahead of them, the #7 at their side and the #40 in the rear, while Olsen was attempting to pass Heinemann. The tight curves became even tighter as four vehicles passed through, while the #36 took the lead. Within a few moments, Tim Heinemann lost three positions and landed on spot 19, while Dennis Olsen escaped most attacks, and fell into line behind the #7 on 17th position in the first curve.
Throughout the final third, Dennis Olsen advanced onto 16th spot. With just one and a half minutes remaining on the race clock, he placed himself next to the Mercedes-AMG #36 in the first turn and managed to exit ahead of the opponent.
The first race of the DTM in Zandvoort was sobering for the Porsche Teams as they finished on the following positions:
7. Thomas Preining, Manthey EMA #91
13. Ayhancan Güven, Team75 Motorsport #24
16. Dennis Olsen, Manthey EMA #90
19. Tim Heinemann, Toksport WRT #9
23. Christian Engelhart, Toksport WRT #99
Laurin Heinrich für Team75 Motorsport could not complete the race.
On the second race day, the participants set themselves and their vehicles up once more on the start-finish straight. Thomas Preining in the Manthey EMA #91 started in the first row from second spot. Laurin Heinrich returned for another attempt in Zandvoort with the #75 Team75 Motorsport car in third row on fifth spot. His team colleague Ayhancan Güven in the #24 was in the row directly behind him on eighth position. Starting from another row behind him was Dennis Olsen in the Manthey EMA #90 from number nine and another row behind him was Christian Engelhart with the Porsche 911 GT3 R #99 for Toksport WRT on 12th position. Also for Toksport WRT was Tim Heinemann, starting as the last with a Porsche from 16, this one bearing the number nine.
Just like on the previous day, the race kicked-off on a rolling start: As the GT vehicles fell into their spots on the way to the starting line, the light switched to green. Immediately, Thomas Preining came under pressure and was passed from the second row on the inner curve of the first turn – he dropped onto third. Meanwhile, Laurin Heinrich advanced by a spot: He came in behind the #91 after the first turn of the race. Ayhancan Güven also dropped by one spot, while Dennis Olsen improved his position by one spot and came in front of Güven on seventh. Christian Engelhart and Tim Heinemann both also lost a position.
But Heinemann remained calm and immediately passed two vehicles, his team colleague Engelhart among them, shortly before the grid hit the second lap. His 14th spot was hard-fought for in the next few minutes, but his target was clear: Achieve a better standing than on the previous day. Thomas Preining also was not satisfied with his third spot and advanced on the Mercedes-AMG vehicle ahead of him.
Ten minutes after the start, Laurin Heinrich in the #75 Toksport WRT was put under pressure. Both, the Audi and the BMW behind him went for the attack from the start-finish straight onwards. The battle raged on for three turn, before the Audi passed Laurin Heinrich – forcing him to stay on the tail of the Audi while also defending against the BMW behind his vehicle. In the next turn, Heinrich managed to counter the BMW, but another turn later he was caught up to. At the same time, a Mercedes-AMG went for a pass and the Porsche 911 GT3 R #75 fell behind on seventh spot, ahead of the #90 of Dennis Olsen, who was ahead of the #24 of Ayhancan Güven.
After the first quarter of the race, the grid calmed down somewhat. But that did not hold for long. The Team75 Motorsport car #24 was caught up to on a straight by an Audi and dropped onto tenth spot – while a BMW was closing in as well. But there was hope yet: The pits were declared open. With the right timing, he would be able to escape his opponent.
Of the Porsche teams, Mathey EMA and Team75 Motorsport opted to enter the pits first: Laurin Heinrich's #75 and Dennis Olsen's #90 returned from the pit at the back of the grid and therefore could hope to gain better spots throughout the next ten minutes. Thmas Preining from Manthey EMA followed shortly after his team colleague, along with Ayhancan Güven of Team75 Motorsport. From Toksport WRT, Engelhart first entered the pit.
To the top.
The second half of the race went off under a bad start for Laurin Heinrich: His #75 spun in a banked curve. He was forced to move step-by-step to not block any other vehicles. Thankfully, he only lost one spot and continued on 22. But the team decided to remove him from the race due to safety concerns. The stroke of bad luck continued for Tim Heinemann. He skidded into the gravel pit with the #9 of Toksport WRT and fell behind on 19th spot. Thomas Preining also did not have good news for his team: He radioed in to say that his traction control was out. Still, he maintained his fourth position.
Despite the troubles, Thomas Preining had hope yet: Due to the pit stops of the at that moment leading vehicles, he moved up onto second spot. His team colleague Dennis Olsen was meanwhile pushing for the eighth spot and got in behind the Audi in that position. His advantage was Ayhancan Güven ahead of the Audi. A passing attempt of the Audi would be a chance for Olsen – but of course, Güven in the #24 wanted to maintain his spot and improve on it. During all this, Thomas Preining was building up his advantage in the #91 Manthey EMA, despite the loss of traction control.
In the final 15 minutes of the race, the distance between the vehicles on spots seven through nine increased. The pit stop had helped the Team75 Motorsport Porsche and Ayhancan Güven remained ahead of the Audi. Dennis Olsen had lost contact with the car on eighth and was coming under pressure by the BMW behind him. Tim Heinemann in the #9 was in an equal position on 17th spot, just he was being tracked by a Mercedes-AMG.
Thomas Preining received some good news in the final ten minutes: His traction control had returned. Shortly after that, Tim Heinemann of Toksport WRT lost a position and the rear of his #9 came in contact with the Mercedes-AMG. The short contact drove the #9 into the grass, but Heinemann managed to retain control. The contact cost the Mercedes a part of his front wheel covering, so Heinemann could regain his position after one round.
The final minutes of the race were less dramatic than on the previous day: Thomas Preining comfortably drove across the finish line on second spot. Ayhancan Güven also could win some points with his seventh spot, along with Dennis Olsen on ninth. Christian Engelhart finished the race on 12th position, while team colleague Tim Heinemann came up on 17th. Laurin Heinrich was without success on this weekend and finished the race on 22.
The weekend put Thomas Preining at the top of the driver championship and the point collected by him, Ayhancan Güven and Dennis Olsen also put Porsche at the top of the manufacturer championship.