Frustration instead of celebration for GRT after the fifth stop of the DTM 2023. From 18 to 20 August, the next round in the high-calibre championship was on the agenda for the Lamborghini Squadra Corse supported outfit in front of 43,000 spectators at the Lausitzring. After the sensational victory at the Nürburgring, the Austrian team was on the verge of securing another rostrum in the DTM. On Sunday, Clemens Schmid in the #63 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO2 was on course for a podium finish after a strong qualifying but was taken out of the race by a rival through no fault of his own while lying in third position. The Austrian’s eleventh place in the first race thus remained the highest of feelings for GRT in the Lausitz. Nürburgring winner Maximilian Paul came away empty-handed from the hot weekend.
The 3.478 km long Lausitzring presented Team Principal Gottfried Grasser's squad with particularly challenging conditions. At the Nürburgring, Maximilian Paul had clinched the first DTM victory for GRT in typically cold Eifel weather with pouring rain. In the Lausitz, the summer showed its more beautiful, but at the same time more demanding side. With bright sunshine and temperatures of over 30 degrees Celsius, races nine and ten turned into a heat battle. The GRT crew found the right set-up for the Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO2 during the test on Thursday and the practice sessions on Friday.
On Saturday morning, Schmid and Paul confirmed the team's good work in qualifying with grid positions eight and ten. In the early stages of the first race, Schmid maintained his position in the Top-10 and showed competitive lap times over the entire distance. He set the eighth fastest lap with his pace being on par with the Top-3 at times. After 44 laps, he was rewarded with five championship points at the finish in eleventh place. Paul as the Nürburgring winner had 20 kilograms of success ballast on board, which had a negative effect on his tyre performance. With two laps to go, an issue with the cockpit ventilation forced him to retire early. The ventilation ducts had become clogged with debris from the track, causing the inside temperature to skyrocket.
In the second qualifying session, however, the GRT duo delivered once again. After a late red flag, it came down to a five-minute showdown for pole position. Schmid kept cool and steered his Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO2 to third on the grid with a strong lap. The 33-year-old thus equalled his season's best performance from Oschersleben and received a championship point to boot. Paul also put in a strong showing with ninth place, but had to line up five positions further back due to a grid penalty. Both GRT drivers then mastered the opening lap. Schmid held third place, while Paul made up three positions and moved up to eleventh.
However, the promising positions did not hold any luck for them. In the fight for the podium, Schmid got hit in the rear by fellow Lamborghini driver Franck Perera on lap 17. The Frenchman was deemed responsible for the incident by the race stewards. The collision through no fault of his own cost Schmid his race and the chance on his first podium in the DTM. For Paul, the race did not progress as planned after the strong opening stage. After changing tyres, the 23-year-old from Dresden, who was on course for points, suffered another heat related retirement on lap 34. GRT will get the chance to strike back when the DTM returns to the Sachsenring for the sixth round of the season from 8 to 10 September.
Clemens Schmid (AUT)
#63 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO2
Qualifying 1: P8 - Race 1: P11
Qualifying 2: P3 - Race 2: DNF
Clemens Schmid: "As far as the outcome of the weekend is concerned, there is not much to say. Franck's move was completely out of line and his reaction really disappointing. We have known each other for a long time and I am actually used to a different side of him. Until then, things were going really well for us. The team did a great job in preparation with the setup of the car for the hot weather. These conditions had been our weakness so far this season and this time we had it under control. The podium was definitely possible on Sunday and we take that with us from the Lausitzring. We have three race weekends left and we will give everything to be up there this season."
Maximilian Paul (GER)
#19 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO2
Qualifying 1: P10 - Race 1: DNF
Qualifying 2: P9 - Race 2: DNF
Maximilian Paul: "On Saturday it was very difficult with the success ballast and my lap in qualifying was also not the best. At the beginning of the race we could keep up well, but then the tyre wear got too much due to the extra weight. In addition, I had a problem with the temperature inside the cockpit. The ventilation had clogged up and I couldn't get any air, so I was pretty beat up and had to stop. The grid penalty for the second race made life a bit harder for me, but I got a good start and made up some positions. Unfortunately, I couldn't keep up the pace over the distance and then had to retire early again. I would have imagined my home race a little differently, but I am still happy with my guest appearance in the DTM. Many thanks to my partners and to GRT for this great opportunity."
Gottfried Grasser, Team Principal of GRT: "The incident on Sunday was extremely painful for us. Clemens drove a fantastic race and we lost an important points result and a possible podium. Something like that shouldn't happen, especially not amongst two cars of the same manufacturer. Apart from that, it was a positive weekend for us. The qualifying pace was very promising and to make it into the Top-10 with both cars on both days definitely exceeded our expectations. We had a much better performance in the hot conditions this time, also over the race distance. Unfortunately, the results don't reflect that, but we are going in the right direction and we are looking forward to Sachsenring. Finally, I would like to thank Max for his commitment to our team. He amazed us all at the Nürburgring and even though things didn't go to plan for him here, he made a great impression."