Difficult race weekend for Flörsch and Hawkey in DTM
Updated: Jul 26, 2021
It wasn't the easiest race weekend for Esmee Hawkey and Sophia Floersch at the second DTM round at Lausitzring, hampered by a big crash and technical issues respectively. But both fought their way back on Sunday and finished a solid race with more valuable mileage.
At the second race weekend of the new DTM era, the new GT3-spec car tackled for the first time the mighty banked corner at Lausitzring. With spectators finally allowed back for the first race of the season on German soil, Sophia Flörsch and Esmee Hawkey were back behind the wheel of their Audi R8 LMS Ultra and Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo for a flat-out weekend around the newly-homologated layout of the Eurospeedway.
The first qualifying - setting the grid for Race 1 - saw the Van der Linde brothers locking out the front row, as Sheldon (ROWE Racing) scored the pole position right ahead of Kelvin, while Mike Rockenfeller (both Team ABT Sportsline) was third. Sophia Flörsch (Team ABT) and Esmee Hawkey (T3 Motorsport) completed their qualifying efforts in P17 and P18.
And it was a hot start into the first race of the weekend, as the cars went in double-file formation into the first banked corner with speeds close to 250 km/h. Everyone was able to complete the first lap, until Esmee Hawkey hit a bump in turn one at full speed, corrected the first slide and lost the car on another bump. She spun and slid into the wall hard, as the #26 T3 Motorsport Lamborghini suffering significant damage in the impact. Fortunately, the young British driver was unharmed and climbed out of the car while the Safety Car made its way onto the track.
"In all seriousness though, I’m happy to walk away from a crash like that unscathed!" - said Esmee. "This is not how I wanted my day to end but we have to look for the positives and move forward! A huge thank you goes out to everyone T3 Motorsport who are working tirelessly to get me back out on track tomorrow, I really appreciate all your efforts!", she summed up.
The race was held behind the Safety Car for six laps - but the hard luck for the women of the series wasn't over: Sophia Flörsch stopped on track, then got rolling again and was ultimately forced to retire with fuel pressure issues. A short race for both Sophia and Esmee marked their second experience of the DTM after positive debuts in Monza.
"Problem with fuel pressure since formation lap." - said Flörsch. "Engine misfires since start. Couldn't shift correctly. That's racing. Happy with my quali lap just seven tenths off pole. Nice sector 1 speed. It's about my tenth day in this GT3, so not too bad", Sophia wrote on Twitter.
After the restart the whole field pitted for a tyre change - except Nico Müller (Team Rosberg), who stayed out until the last lap of the race. His strategy didn´t pay off and he finished 13th and outside of the points.
Philip Ellis (Mercedes-AMG Team Winward) took his first victory of the season, ahead of Liam Lawson (Red Bull AF Corse) and Mike Rockenfeller.
It was uncertain whether Esmee Hawkey would be able to start the second race day on Sunday, as her Lamborghini was in worse conditions than expected. T3 Motorsport made the application to IRT (DTM promoter) to use a vehicle from ADAC GT Masters' fleet and, after all teams gave their approval, T3 made their best effort to rebuild the car for Esmee to race on Sunday.
The second pole of the weekend was snatched by race 1 winner Ellis, ahead of Lawson and Maximilian Götz (Mercedes-AMG Team HRT). Sophia Flörsch wasn´t able to set a lap time, as she reported the same fuel pressure issues after the warm-up lap.
Hawkey, with a whole new car, qualified P18.
With technical issues stopping Flörsch, her participation in the second race was also under threat - but her team did a remarkable job to fix the car and she eventually appeared on the grid for the fourth race of the season.
Philip Ellis defended his lead at the start, but Red Bull driver Liam Lawson made his way past him to take over the lead. Kelvin van der Linde also closed the gap to Ellis and passed the Mercedes driver as well, before the South African could move up into the lead of the race and pull away. His biggest rival in the championship, Lawson, lost time to Sheldon van der Linde when he stalled at the pit stop after just eight laps of racing. Most drivers had in fact elected to pit early. But it wasn't an easy race for Kelvin either, as he suddenly slowed down on lap 27 and lost his lead to Maximilian Götz.
But drama was far from over, as AF Corse racer Lawson got by him, before the South African was able to do a full reset and continue the race. Van der Linde battled hard with Lawson, but third place was the best he could do at the chequered flag. Götz became the fourth winner in the series out of four races this season.
Sophia Flörsch came home in 15th after a very troubled weekend with 'Johnny-Fred' - as she nicknamed her #99 Audi R8 - followed by Esmee Hawkey in 16th place.
"Lausitzring wasn’t so kind to us this weekend but we walk away from this weekend and take the positives!" - commented Esmee on Sunday. "We had good pace throughout the race, just lacked in Turn 1... my nemesis corner!", she added. "Only 2 weeks to go and we get to do it all over again in Zolder."