The Austrian fans decked out in red, white and red had some choice advice for Thomas Preining: “Fahr so, als ob du etwas geklaut hättest” (Drive like you stole something). At least, that’s what it said on their T-shirts. The man from Linz is Austria’s leading contender for the 2023 DTM title. In the first of this weekend’s two races at the Red Bull Ring, however, Preining had to settle for sixth place. It was some consolation that he managed to close the gap on Mirko Bortolotti (ITA/Lamborghini), his closest rival in the battle for the championship, to six points.
“It’s high time that Austrian motorsport had a talisman again,” said Hans Knauss during the VIP talk on the event stage in the DTM Fan Zone. There was no way the former skiing champion was going to miss the opportunity to be at Spielberg to watch the action live. “Just hearing the engines gives me goose bumps. It would be really cool if I could drive here. I can still remember my first race. I was so nervous that my knee was bouncing up and down on the clutch.”
But Hans Knauss is perfectly happy to be present in the role of spectator: “The DTM is something very special. There is racing action here, and what I especially like is that I, as well as all the other spectators here, can simply walk into the paddock and have a good close-up look at the cars.”
Not only in the paddock, but also on the pitwalk, where the fans had the opportunity to admire the cars of Lucas Auer, Sheldon van der Linde and the other drivers at close quarters. Even the clouds gathering in the sky above the Red Bull Ring did not dampen the good mood. While the grown-ups analysed the race action over a tasty schnitzel sandwich, the little ones had fun in the Kids Area with face painting, a ball pool and rides on the Kids Racers. And the icing on the cake was when the DTM stars stopped by and took time for autographs and selfies in the context of the Meet the Drivers session.
Tomorrow’s programme follows a fairly similar pattern. Fans will have the chance to take a close-up look at the thoroughbred GT3 cars in the paddock and on the pit walk which starts at 12:10. A colourful programme of entertainment is also scheduled for the event stage in the DTM Fan Zone. In tomorrow’s VIP talk, Nici Schmidhofer will answer questions from Kronehit presenter Katie Weleba. Afterwards, you can take a selfie with the ‘Queen of Speed’ before the second DTM race (13:30) at the Red Bull Ring, where vital championship points will be up for grabs again. Ticket offices will be open from 08:00 tomorrow.