First points of the season for Sophie Hofmann in DTM Trophy at Norisring
Sophie Hofmann scored her first points of the season in DTM Trophy at one of her favorite tracks: Norisring. Expectations were high after her best result of the season last year - and she did not disappoint, with two top-10 and a strong weekend, despite being haunted by some issues.
A very wet Friday - despite a dry weather forecast for the rest of the weekend - welcomed the return of DTM Trophy at the famous Norisring, Germany. Sophie Hofmann, in her second season in the main DTM feeder series, hit the track aiming for points on home soil. And it was a promising start of the weekend for the German lady, who scored her best result last year at this exact place - and indeed loves the track, as she told us. In the wet free practice sessions Hofmann set the seventh and eighth fastest times around the 2,300 meter long street circuit; Thiago Vivacqua (Heide-Motorsport) was fastest in both sessions in rainy conditions and J. P. Southern (EastSide Motorsport) was third fastest Fp1 and FP2. The only difference was the second fastest driver, with Mikaeel Pitamber (Heide-Motorsport) alternating with Daniel Gregor (KÜS Team Bernhard) as runner up in the two sessions. Despite the encouraging results, Hofmann was left with a bitter aftertaste to cloud her strong performance on Friday, as she would have to drop two places on the grid of race 1 due to a pitlane infringement, as she left the pit lane in FP1 when the red flag had just been waved. On Saturday the sun was back shining and temperatures increased through the day. For many drivers it was the first time on a dry Norisring. While Gregor remained on top for most of the session, many positions changed behind him, with 15 of the 18 cars ending within one second - showing the great amount of talent in the series. The battle was one fire shortly before the time ran out: Southern set the fastest final lap and sealed the top spot, with Gregor (+0,01) and Tim Heineman (Toyota Gazoo Racing powered by Ring Racing) (+0,02) behind. Sophie Hofmann remained within the second margin (+0,91), and lined up in 15th position at the end of the qualifying session. Due to the penalty, she would start from P17 and had to work her way up the order in the afternoon race.
The first race started with two formation laps before lights went out; Gregor went from 2nd to first and led Southern and Heinemann. Sophie Hofmann held 17th position. Southern then dropped back and the first Safety Car was deployed on lap 5 as he came to a stop on track. The race went back to green on lap 9 with still 22 minutes to go. But the action was soon interrupted again as restart went wrong for Rodrigo Dias Almeida (BWT Mücke Motorsport), who lost the car and made contact with the wall before hitting another car in a chain reaction that involved also Eduardo Cauhaupe (BWT Mücke Motorsport) and Marc de Fulgencio. All retired from the race. Vivacqua and Gregor were hit as well, but could continue the race. Sophie Hofmann moved up to 8th place with a great restart and some luck on her side. Heinemann led the pack ahead of Vivacqua and Oeverhaus, but again the green flag was not out for long as Folev made contact with Gregor's car and was left with tire damage. Gregor received a five second penalty for causing the collision. Sophie Hofmann held on to 8th position and, most importantly, kept it clean and avoided troubles. With round 5 minutes to go, the Safety Car took the way of the pitlane and the short sprint race was led by Heinemann. Sophie Hofmann had a difficult restart as she went wide into the first corner and dropped to P11. With 2 minutes left, Pitamber missed his braking point and crashed into Jacob Riegel (Speed Monkeys) - both were forced to retire. The race then ended under safety car conditions. Overaus took victory, ahead of Heinemann and Vivacqua. Sophie Hofmann managed to get back into P8 - which meant she scored her first points this season at Norisring. For the young German, it was a deserved positive result after strong performances all weekend. "What a crazy first race. Surviving a lot of crash situations, a good speed and some pretty amazing restarts gave me my first points this season" - Sophie Hofmann told us.
The second day was again a sunny and warm one and, in the second qualifying, it would be again a battle between Southern, Gregor and Vivacqua. The former spent the most time on top of the timesheets and ultimately scored pole position, ahead of Gregor and Vivacqua. "Only P14 in quali - pushing in the race when it counts", Sophie Hofmann said after a challenging qualifying for race 2. Hofmann lined up in P13 for the second and final DTM Trophy race at Norisring. The first corner once again proved too tight for the field and Cauhaupe put Vivacqua into the wall after being hit by another car. Gregor was also involved in the accident and was the third car out of the race. Heinemann had meanwhile moved into the lead ahead of Henkefend and Southern before the safety car intervention, while Sophie Hofmann had already progressed to P9. It took quite a long time to recover the three vehicles and the green flag waved on lap 15 with 12 minutes to go. Heinemann kept the lead preceding Henkefend and a charging Overhaus. One lap later, de Fulgencio missed his braking point and crashed into his teammate Löhner. Sophie Hofmann was able to make it out unscathed and restarted from 7th place. With six and a half minutes to go, Heinemann slightly pulled away from Henkefend and Oeverhaus but, once Henkefend caught up and passed the leader, Oeverhaus also joined the three-car battle in the final three minutes of racing. Caresani and Almeida meanwhile were engaged in a closed battle for P4. Sophie Hofmann had the difficult task to hold Southern behind and, after some great defensive driving, she was a bit wide in the first corner and dropped to eighth, however remaining in touch with the Audi in front. Unfortunately, she "had a little mistake in the chicane while pushing and a mechanical issue on the car", which meant she was forced to come into the pits and retired from the race. With P10, it was nevertheless another point-scoring result for Hofmann. Heinemann scored the victory at the end of an incredible battle for the win, beating Henkefend and Oeverhaus. But, after penalties were applied, Henkefend earned the win ahead of Caresani and Almeida. The DTM Trophy will now enjoy a short summer break and will be back from 26th to 28th August at Nürburgring, with Sophie Hofmann aiming for more points in the second half of the season.