DTM: Esmee Hawkey gains 19 places over two races at Lausitzring
While it wasn't an easy weekend for Esmee Hawkey and Lamborghini drivers at Lausitzring, the young racer was still able to gain 19 places over the course of the two DTM races to finish P18 and P19.
Three weeks ago, one of the most competitive and popular closed-wheel racing championships in the world started its 2022 season at Portimao, Portugal, for its second year under the GT3 regulations. DTM made its first visit at Circuit do Algarve, with almost 30 cars on track and six different manufacturers.
Coming back for her second season in DTM was Esmee Hawkey - 24-year-old British racer that had previously raced in the all-female championship W Series as well as claimed a ProAm title in the British Porsche Carrera Cup. Hawkey joined T3 Motorsport in 2021 for her first season in GT3 racing and had a positive rookie campaign in DTM despite the lack of testing. She would score her first points at Assen.
Hawkey was confirmed at the wheel of the #26 T3 Motorsport's Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO for the 2022 season, but was forced to sit out pre-season testing and was again thrown in at the deep end at the first round of the season, in an increasingly competitive field featuring some of the most experienced GT3 teams and drivers in the world.
Hawkey, however, had an encouraging first weekend and navigated through the field to score a P21 on Sunday at Portimao that gave her confidence going into the second round at Lausitzring.
“I was pleased with our performance in the opening round and that gives me confidence as we arrive at Lausitzring", she commented. "My aim is to take that as a base and continue to build on it together with the team."
"The Lamborghini is a great car to drive and I'm really looking forward to getting out on the track in it this weekend."
The series headed to Lausitzring, one of the few oval tracks in Europe that made its DTM debut in 2021 with a 4.601km layout that includes two long straights, a 8.7° banked corner and a technical infield section.
Esmee Hawkey sported a new livery on her #26 Lamborghini, with London-based clothing label Branded supporting the British racer at the second round of the DTM championship.
The Story of the race
Lucas Auer took Saturday pole position, ahead of BMW's Sheldon van der Linde and the Mercedes of Maro Engel and Luca Stolz. Championship leader after the first round Mirko Bortolotti (GRT Lamborghini) was only ninth, as the other Huracan also struggled in qualifying and were not higher than 23rd. Esmee Hawkey was P28.
Sheldon van der Linde had a perfect getaway and quickly pulled away in the lead after the super fast banked Turn 1, leaving Auer and Stolz battling for second.
There was trouble for a few cars further down the road, as Grenier, Olsen and Kelvin van der Linde went through the grass and eventually retired later in the race. Esmee Hawkey passed Alessio Deledda on the second lap and moved into 25th place.
Having opened a safe gap, the race leader pitted on lap 9 and kept the virtual leadership. Stolz overtook Auer for second during the pit stop sequence.
Hawkey stayed out and climbed the order as most pitted, advancing into eighth place. When a few spots of rain appeared on the cars' windshields, the strategy could have played in favour of Esmee Hawkey and she stayed out a few more laps as teams assessed their tyre strategy. Unfortunately, the rain was never heavy enough to require wet weather tyres and the track was soon dry again.
Hawkey then pitted on lap 20 and put on new slick tyres - as did Nick Cassidy and Marco Wittmann on lap 23 from the lead of the race.
A series of retirements marked the second half of the race: Ricardo Feller had a tyre puncture on the main straight; Marco Wittmann, Nico Mueller, David Schumacher, Felipe Fraga all made their way back to their garages and retired with technical issues.
Sheldon van der Linde was thus back in the lead, 4 seconds clear of Luca Stolz and Lucas Auer. Maximilian Goetz lost ninth place to Nick Cassidy on the penultimate lap of the race, having gone wide.
Schubert motorsport's Van der Linde took his second win in DTM - the first of the season - and preceded four Mercedes AMG GT3 cars, with Arjun Maini and Maro Engel rounding out the top five.
Capitalizing on a chaotic race, Esmee Hawkey gained ten places to finish 18th, in what is her best finish of the 2022 season so far.
Sheldon van der Linde continued to dominate at the Lausitzring on Sunday, claiming pole position for Race 2 ahead of the Audi of Rene Rast and the Mercedes of Maro Engel. The session was marked by a lengthy red flag for a big fire that severely damaged the AF Corse Ferrari of Felipe Fraga; the Brazilian was unharmed, but could not take part in the afternoon's race.
Esmee Hawkey was again 28th on the grid, as she could not make the most out of her car's performance due to the red flag interruption.
The unlucky weekend for Canadian Mikael Grenier continued into Race 2, as he suffered a puncture on the formation lap and had to park his #55 GruppeM Racing's Mercedes.
Van der Linde held first place at the start, while a three-wide battle for second saw Maro Engel cutting through the grass of Turn 2 after contact with Mirko Bortolotti.
Esmee Hawkey had another clean start and, having passed Deledda, she moved into 26th place.
With battles throughout the field, T3 Motorsport's Nicki Thiim parked his Lamborghini for technical issues just before the round of pit stop on lap 8, but the race remained green.
The leading drivers pitted on lap 10; one lap later, Esmee Hawkey also took the way of the pit lane and rejoined in 25th position.
Kelvin van der Linde, Esteban Muth and Maximilian Goetz extended their stints, while behind them a few battles saw Mueller and Bortolotti, Schumacher and Olsen as well as Wittmann and Vanthoor having exciting duels.
The final pit stops came with 17 minutes on the clock and Sheldon van der Linde could reclaim the top spot, followed by Maro Engel - who had managed to get back ahead of Rene Rast after the pit stop - and Philip Eng, who was aided by a brilliant stop by the Schubert Motorsport's crew.
The race leader was under pressure from Engel in the closing stages, but held off the attacks of the GruppeM Racing's Mercedes to claim his second win of the weekend - thus gaining the lead in the championship standings.
Bortolotti could not find a way past Mueller in the final laps and was sixth, with Feller, Auer, Vanthoor and Wittmann completing the top ten.
Esmee Hawkey had another solid run, kept it clean and finished P19, again gaining nine place from her starting position.
“I'd like to say a big thank you to all of the team for their hard work once again", said Esmee. "We're continuing to make progress in each session and we can be pleased with our performance this weekend to make our way through the field and showing good control to avoid the chaos around us in both races."
"The pace is continuously improving despite the limited seat time we've had and that puts us in a good place heading to Imola - I'm looking forward to getting back out there."
Despite a challenging weekend, Hawkey made the most out of the eventful races and completed good mileage in the #26 Huracan GT3 Evo, as she will aim to further climb the order at the next round at Imola, on June 18-19.