DTM: Esmee Hawkey recovers to P21 in Portimao Race 2
Updated: May 3
Despite a challenging weekend marked by a lack of pre-season mileage, Esmee Hawkey made good progress in the second DTM race at Portimao, where she gained positions to finish P21.
After a positive debut season in DTM, where she managed to score her first points in one of the most competitive GT3 series in the world, British driver Esmee Hawkey will now have the opportunity to build on her experience in the T3 Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan and further progress in the popular German series. DTM's first visit to Autodromo do Algarve, Portimao, was not all plain sailing for Hawkey, though, who had to make up for a lack of pre-season mileage having missed testing. "It’s been a difficult off-season with zero testing but I’m so thankful to be back behind the wheel and thankful for all of the people who got me here" - she commented on the eve of the Portuguese round. "The grid is even more competitive this year which is fantastic to see and shows the strength of the championship." "I'm under no illusion of how tough this weekend will be with no testing but I'll be working as hard as possible to get up to speed", she added, aware of the challenges she will have to face in her sophomore campaign. A bigger field of 29 cars - a record number for DTM since its return in 2000 - six manufacturers and drivers representing 15 countries will in fact feature in the second season of the new DTM GT3 era, which is set to be more competitive than ever. Mirko Bortolotti put the Grasser Racing Lamborghini on pole position at the team's first race in DTM on Saturday, followed by the Mercedes of Mikael Grenier and Lucas Auer. Esmee Hawkey was 27th fastest in qualifying 1, making some good steps forward compared to free practice. Bortolotti had a great start and was able to fend off the attacks of Grenier around the outside of the first corner; T3 Motorsport's Nicki Thiim - at his series debut - had a great getaway and move into fourth place, with AF Corse's Felipe Frage just behind in fifth. A contact at the first corner of the second lap saw Muth and Schid dropping back, with Esmee Hawkey moving into 25th place. Lucas Auer cleared the Mercedes of Grenier and immediately hunted down Bortolotti. At the first round of pit stops of the season, Nico Muller hit trouble and retired with a right-rear issue, while also Marco Wittmann ended his race prematurely. Mirko Bortolotti pitted on lap 11 and rejoined ahead of Lucas Auer. Fraga, Engel van der Linde and Olsen had taken over the first positions, as they opted to extend their stint. Esmee Hawkey also stayed out and was as high as 10th at one point. When Rolf Ineichen's Grasser Lamborghini came to a halt on track on lap 17, Fraga pitted - restoring positions in the lead. Hawkey also pitted and rejoined in P25. At the restart, though, it was heartbreak for race leader Bortolotti, who had a power issue as soon as he went on the throttle and was swallowed by the pack, dropping to fourth. Further back, a contact at the restart took Grenier, Fraga and Rast out of contention. While in 23rd place, Hawkey also pitted and retired with damages from a rear-end collision. While Lucas Auer made the most out of the restart and pulled away in the Winward Mercedes, Bortolotti spent the second half of the race trying to gain back a spot on the podium: the Italian would eventually get past Maro Engel on the final lap with a great move, before Engel was handed a 5 second penalty for pit stop infringement. Lucas Auer took victory in the first race of the season, preceding Luca Stolz and Mirko Bortolotti, with Kelvin van der Linda and Dennis Olsen finishing fourth and fifth after Engel's penalty.
Nico Muller (Team Rosberg Audi) was back in the game on Sunday, when the Swiss driver scored pole position beating Bortolotti and Fraga on his final attempt of Q2. Esmee Hawkey was P28, after showing speed in the early stages of the session; the Brit was up to 19th at one point, but slipped down the order in the final minutes. Nico Muller survived the attacks of Bortolotti and Fraga at turn 1 - with chaos breaking loose behind them: Preining, Ineichen, Eng and Thiim were all caught in a first lap incident, as Hawkey managed to avoid the contacts and moved up to P22. She would overtake Gore during the first lap, further gaining one position. On the second lap, the Red Bull-sponsored Ferrari of Fraga passed Bortolotti for second - before being the first driver to pit once the window opened on lap 6. Muller, though, was able to stay ahead of the Ferrari after his stop one lap later. Meanwhile, race 1 winner Auer hit trouble just after his stop and dropped down. In a similar strategy as Saturday's race, Hawkey stayed out as much as possible and ran as high as fifth during the pit stages. Kelvin van der Linde gained positions thanks to his strategy and passed Wittmann and Vanthoor - with the latter also having to give up a position to Sheldon van der Linde when on cold tyres. With a great pass at Turn 12, Esmee Hawkey overtook Alessio Deledda for fourth place and further extended her stint until lap 14, when she rejoined P21. The British racer was then faster than Sebastien Loeb ahead, but ultimately had not enough time to catch up. David Schumacher - at his first weekend in DTM - was the last driver to pit and, after Mikael Grenier's retirement from the lead, Nico Muller returned to lead the pack, three seconds clear of Felipe Fraga and Mirko Bortolotti. The Swiss driver took a comfortable win, but Bortolotti's consistency on the podium gained the Italian the lead in the points standings. Marco Wittmann and Maximilian Goetz rounded out the top five. Despite the challenges of the first weekend, Esmee Hawkey had a positive second race and finished P21, moving up seven places from her starting position and, importantly, gaining insights on the improvements ahead of the next round. “Overall, I'm pleased with the progress we've made this weekend", Esmee said.
"Coming into the weekend with less preparation than I would've liked always meant it was going to be challenging but I think we've had a productive weekend with lots learnt and that will move us forward for the rest of the season."
"Thanks to all of the team for their hard work as always." The second round of the 2022 DTM season will in fact be contested in two weeks' time at Lausitzring, Germany, where Hawkey aims to continue her progress on a circuit where she has previously raced at.