As we covered just before the new year rolled in, DTM Esports is back in the form of the 2022 season! Before the championship could get underway, a grid needed forming hence the preseason action which unfolded over January.
Of everyone entering, 31 drivers would earn their permanent spot amongst the field. Three would qualify through a Media Markt Bootcamp event whilst the remaining 28 would find their way through two ‘shootout’ sessions.
For those in the Bootcamp, the task was pretty simple; be one of the top three drivers by day’s end. For the shootout participants, a much more technical process of securing your spot was in place.
The first of the shootouts was first up on the docket in early January. Hosted at the Nürburgring, many of the names would be familiar to those following RaceRoom Racing Experience-based events of recent times such as ADAC GT Masters Esports.
At this first event, three races would be run. Two separate heats would discover the first ten drivers to make their way onto the season grid before a third race of the remaining participants would identify a further four.
Amongst a first heat dominated by the German flag, Italy’s Gianmarco Fiduci took the first pole position of the year ahead of Marko Pejic and Leonard Krippner.
Other standout names included returning champion Moritz Löhner, who would start his title defence from eighth place, and 2020’s runner-up Jack Keithley who would qualify a very respectable fourth place.
The Brit would endure a less than enjoyable time of things come the race, falling down the Top 10. Löhner on the other hand would have a stormer, eventually finishing third and thus securing his spot at the first attempt.
Flashpoint of the race would come in the dying moments however as Pejic and Fiduci, whose battle for the lead had been enthralling, came into contact with the German spinning at Turn 1.
Had he just conceded the win, he would have certainly made it alongside Krippner and Florian Hasse. Max Pfeifer was the grateful recipient of the all-important fifth place finish.
Heat 2 was packing some serious talent as well. Kevin Siggy and Tim Jarschel found themselves on the front row for the evening’s second race ahead of Michael Rächl; once a young starlet on the eWTCR grid. REMUS GT3 star Christopher Högfeldt and master of strategy Isaac Price also featured.
This race got off to a blinding start as Jarschel beat Siggy off the line to take the lead. Sadly the remaining twenty-nine minutes flew by with the top five remaining mostly as they were.
Högfeldt slipped away, losing places to both Petr Pliska and the surging Marc Gassner. Both the Swede and Price kept the Italian honest until the end but to no avail.
Qualifying for the final race would see Pejic on pole eyeing up redemption ahead of Keithley and Price. Marko had previous baggage with bad starts across 2021 and yet another saw him fall behind both Brits in the opening exchanges.
Ottaviani’s astute handling of the situation bagged him that crucial fourth place. Although the important places would not switch hands for the duration, there was some drama to be had post-race.
As we understand it, multiple drivers were disqualified for breach of a sporting regulation. We know this included, but was not limited to, both Price and Pejic who would be forced to return for Shootout 2. Both Alex Dornieden and David Nagy benefited.
Heat 1 – Top 10
- Gianmarco Fiduci – 30:48.988
- Florian Hasse – +3.798
- Moritz Löhner – +4.336
- Leonard Krippner – +4.357
- Max Pfeifer – +4.825
- Alex Dornieden – +5.666
- Marko Pejic* – +7.468
- Jack Keithley – +9.292
- Adam Pinczes – +11.055
- Jan Stange – +12.667
Heat 2 – Top 10
- Tim Jarschel – 30:46.557
- Kevin Siggy – +2.501
- Michael Rächl – +4.968
- Marc Gassner – +6.323
- Petr Pliska – +9.333
- Isaac Price* – +9.683
- Christopher Högfeldt – +9.928
- David Nagy – +13.377
- Alessandro Ottaviani – +16.256
- Matija Markovic – +18.550
Heat 3 – Top 10
- Jack Keithley – 30:49.875
- Isaac Price* – +0.385
- Marko Pejic* – +0.657
- Alessandro Ottaviani – +4.738
- Alex Dornieden – +4.950
- David Nagy – +7.636
- Christopher Högfeldt – +13.147
- Leon Rüdinger – +15.583
- Robert Wiesenmüller – +20.362
- Luciano Witvoet – +20.420
Media Markt Cup
RaceRoom has often offered up LAN events for German drivers and the DTM Esports 2022 preseason tour would be no different. Unfortunately for us here at Traxion.GG, and myself in particular, German is not our strongest area of expertise and thus a lot of what was being said was lost in translation.
Of the final nine drivers in with a shot, Florian Bodin won at the Nürburgring both figuratively and in actuality to confirm his place for the 2022 season ahead of but along with Alex Mosin and Julien Fox. The Hannover-based 20-year-old was especially thrilled as it was only his second racing event.
Running exactly the same format as the first but at Hockenheimring instead, the second shootout immediately saw Pejic back with a vengeance claiming pole position in the first heat ahead of Jonas Wanner.
Worryingly for Price, placed in the same group, the ex-F1 Esports driver still without a team since leaving Williams was disappointingly seventh by session’s end.
Tension is often said to be palpable sometimes and this first race of the evening was certainly that. The drivers within earshot of the top five were brutal with their moves whilst those inside the top five were overtly cautious in case of throwing their position of strength away.
Price simply had to make money moves or risk taking it to the final race of preseason. His game plan was executed smoothly enough and after taking fifth on the road settled behind Matija Markovic who had lost position to Attila Diner.
Pejic always seemed to have a good grasp at the track where he raced to impress last year in the ADAC GT Masters Esports Championship. Wanner couldn’t lay a finger on him although in the grand scheme of things, it didn’t really matter so much.
It was admittedly a shock to witness Högfeldt not qualify for the 2022 grid in Shootout 1 on pace alone. Pole position for the second heat was much more like it, leading Adam Pinczes and Axel Vermeylen at lights out.
Once again, not many risks were taken inside the top five and aside from Leon Rüdinger overtaking Vermeylen early on it was as you were by the chequered flag. Of note, ex-RaceRoom Esports aficionado Robert Wiesenmüller found himself in the mix for the full season to come.
With all of the big hitters putting their feet up, Heat 3 was sure to be a race of fine margins and open warfare. Martin Barna scored the early advantage with pole position ahead of Manuel Rodríguez and Mihai Neg.
Once again it was only the top four places this time netting you a spot in DTM Esports 2022 and as early as five minutes in it was clear that there was a divide between fourth and fifth.
Ralf Piringer, unlike the others earlier that evening in a similar position, was quite eager to further his stake and made a bold move on Neg. Little did he know that this move may very well have saved him from elimination.
Luciano Witvoet, known for his boisterous driving style, had himself a blistering second half of the race. So much so that he caught both Piringer and Neg before engaging in a duel for the final 2022 grid spot with the Romanian.
It was heartbreak for Mihai as Witvoet’s brutality paid off and the Dutchman snatched away the prize from his grasp.
Heat 1 – Top 10
- Marko Pejic – 31:16.150
- Jonas Wanner – +2.222
- Attila Diner – +6.693
- Matija Markovic – +8.489
- Isaac Price – +8.830
- Mihai Neg – +9.788
- Sascha Ziefle – +11.855
- Jan Stange – +18.771
- Corentin Pointeau – +23.765
- Joyce Blöcker – +24.091
Heat 2 – Top 10
- Christopher Högfeldt – 31:12.194
- Adam Pinczes – +5.272
- Leon Rüdinger – +5.905
- Axel Vermeylen – +8.201
- Robert Wiesenmüller – +11.140
- Leonard Karten – +11.759
- Martin Barna – +15.368
- Sebastian Reeh – +17.824
- Klaus Schulze – +22.394
- Manuel Rodríguez – +22.673
Heat 3 – Top 10
- Martin Barna – 31:20.487
- Manuel Rodríguez – +4.322
- Ralf Piringer – +6.395
- Luciano Witvoet – +8.717
- Mihai Neg – +9.048
- Sascha Ziefle – +10.404
- Leonard Karten – +10.769
- Daniel Berka – +17.303
- Jan Stange – +17.963
- Rasmus Salo – +21.673
DTM Esports, qualified drivers, 2022
Don’t forget, the DTM Esports Championship will be live on the Traxion.GG YouTube channel this season. Check out the schedule below.
2022 DTM ESPORTS CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON SCHEDULE
|Race #1||Imola||10th March 2022|
|Race #2||Norisring||24th March 2022|
|Race #3||Lautsitzring||7th April 2022|
|Race #4||Spa-Francorchamps||10th April 2022|
|Race #5||Red Bull Ring||21st April 2022|
|Race #6||Portimão||28th April 2022|