DTM Trophy: Battling Sophie Hofmann keeps up positive trend at Red Bull Ring
While a few unfortunate set-backs prevented her from scoring points in DTM Trophy, Sophie Hofmann had a battling round at Red Bull Ring and the 24-year-old racer showed good qualifying performance, tenacity and racecraft with strong recoveries in the races.
With its sixth race weekend of the season, DTM Trophy headed to Red Bull Ring, Austria, from 23rd to 25th of September, where the GT4-based stepping stone to the most popular German series DTM started its last third of the 2022 season.
After a mixed start in free practice on Friday, Sophie Hofmann (Heide-Motorsport) resumed her campaign from where she left off at Spa Francorchamps, keeping up a positive trend that allowed the young German to show what she can do behind the wheel.
Hofmann's weekend was off to a great start with a very promising qualifying: while Sophie led the early pace in the session - and improved in her second attempt to a 1:38.5 - she would end in a strong eleventh place, lining up on the sixth row of the grid for Race 1.
Thiago Vivacqua (Heide-Motorsport) scored pole position for the first race of the weekend, ahead of Colin Caresani (Project 1) and Ricky Capo (KÜS Team Bernhard).
Current championship leader at 178 points, Tim Heinemann (Toyota Gazoo Racing Germany Powered by Ring Racing) has won five races so far and would start from 7th position.
Right after the start, Sophie Hofmann was stuck in the tight midfield and lost a few places. While she tried to find her way past, at the front, Thiago Vivacqua and Colin Caresani heated up the race with some brilliant overtaking manoeuvres, as they battled for the lead.
Tim Heinemann and Louis Henkefend were also protagonists of an exciting duel, but the former would later drop down to eleventh with around 20 minutes left on the clock.
Meanwhile, Caresani eventually found a way past Vivacqua and claimed the first place.
Hofmann managed to make her way back to P16 and found her rhythm, before the Safety car was deployed with around 6 minutes to go. The final minutes were again a sprint to the flag:
Vivacqua reclaimed the lead over Caresani - but the driver of the #47 Project 1 BMW M4 GT4 was not giving up his chances and fought back soon after.
Sophie Hofmann was also on the move and managed to advance to P14 making the most of the hectic final stages and a few mistakes from other drivers.
With 2 laps to go, Hofmann gave everything she had to catch up with the group of cars in front of her and ultimately snatched a very good P13 across the finish line.
Caresani took victory, in front of Vivacqua and Jacob Riegel (Speed Monkeys). From seventh, championship leader Tim Heinemann had to settle for P12.
On Sunday, conditions for the second qualifying of the weekend were dramatically changed: rain and 9°C welcomed the drivers, which didn’t make it the easiest conditions.
In Sophia Hofmann’s first attempt in Qualifying 2, she managed to set the 9th fastest time. Sadly, due to track limits, three of her times were deleted, resulting in her settling in a still positive 15th position.
When the race got underway a few hours after qualifying, the track was drying up again after a very rainy morning - yet some track sections remained wet and slippery.
Daniel Gregor (KÜS Team Bernhard) led the pack from pole position, in front of his teammate Ricky Capo and Thiago Vivacqua (Heide-Motorsport). Tim Heinemann, the championship leader, got away from fifth place.
After a really good start and an again really tight field, Sophie Hofmann gained three positions, claiming P12 on the opening lap.
Tim Heinemann also had a blistering start and moved straight into second place - as he attempted to attack the race leader.
His efforts succeeded with 26 minutes to go and Heinemann led Rodrigo Dias Almeida (BWT Mücke Motorsport) and Thiago Vivacqua (Heide-Motorsport), as both overtook Daniel Gregor in the leading group. Heinemann, though, could not pull away and was under threat again: he dropped down to third as Almeida clinched first place.
Some great racing action was also shown by Marc De Fulgencio (FK Performance Motorsport) and Nick Hancke (Speed Monkeys), battling for a place in the top five. The duel was ultimately won by Nick Hancke, claiming P5.
An off track moment at Turn 9 was a setback for Hofmann, who dropped all the way down to the tail end of the field with 16 minutes to go; the young German racer was quickly back underway and pushed hard to catch up with the rest of the pack again.
With 12 minutes left on the clock, Colin Caresani (Project 1) slowed down and parked his BMW M4 GT4 at the side of the track, leading to a DNF and potentially bringing his run for championship to an end.
Back in 15th place, Hofmann fought her way up to 14th with great pace, proving her fighting spirit in a battle with Jordan Wallace (FK Performance Motorsport) which she eventually won.
Despite the challenges, Sophie charged back to a positive P14 across the finish line, showing good racecraft.
"Race pace was amazing", Hofmann summed up. "Purple sectors in both races, lap times for Top 5. Finally the car felt extremely nice".
"Finally showed at least partly what I am able to achieve. But as always luck was not on our side, technical problems and others prevented me from finally getting a proper result. I’ll fight as long as necessary to have this one day."
Almeida took victory - marking the sixth different driver to win a race in this season. Behind him, Tim Heinemann secured the second position, in front of Thiago Vivacqua.
Even though Heinemann came home from the Austrian round with no victories, the Dutchman was still able to extend his championship lead.
DTM Trophy will round out its 2022 season with its final double-header at the Hockenheimring in Germany from 7th to 9th of October, where Sophie Hofmann scored her first points of the season in 2021.