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Bortolotti "proud" of how Lamborghini fought German DTM giants

Mirko Bortolotti says he and the factory-supported Grasser Lamborghini team can be “proud” of what they achieved in their first season in the DTM despite coming short of winning the title.

Mirko Bortolotti, Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan EVO GT3

After scoring a podium finish in a wildcard outing last year with T3 Motorsport, Bortolotti joined the DTM for the full 2022 season with the Grasser Racing team, which withdrew from all other championships to focus entirely on the German series.

Leading a four-car line-up that also included Rolf Ineichen, Alessio Deledda and Clemens Schmid, Bortolotti scored five podiums and one pole position over the course of the season, replicating the kind of pace he had shown in other GT3 championships over the years.

The Italian was also in the thick of the championship battle until the final weekend of the season, eventually ending up fourth in the standings champion Sheldon van der Linde (BMW), Lucas Auer (Mercedes) and Rene Rast (Audi).

While admitting that he lost crucial points due to a variety of reasons, including some unforced errors, Bortolotti said he is extremely satisfied with how he and Grasser performed in 2022 with works support from Lamborghini.

“I'm really proud of the work we have done,” the 32-year-old told Motorsport.com. “We don't have to forget we are a small brand fighting with the big ones, German ones especially. This is something that sometimes is forgotten. I think it is definitely something we have to take as a positive point.

“We all had some ups and downs, everyone in the field. And it was pretty much clear to me that it would be that way with the quality of the field and how many potential contenders there were in the championship. 

“Generally, a really positive season. For sure there is always something you can improve I think, especially the last two rounds. 

“At Red Bull Ring if we did a really good pitstop we would have been fighting for the win for sure. On Saturday [at Hockenheim] the same with the strategy that didn't go our way. So a little bit of bad luck. 

“It’s part of the game and there's not much else that we can say. The team has done a great job, Lamborghini as well and I'm really happy with myself as well and that's it. 

“At the end of the day, we are P4. We could have been fighting for a bit more, especially on Sunday. I was en route to a pole lap but there was a red flag.”

Podium: Mirko Bortolotti, Grasser Racing Team

Podium: Mirko Bortolotti, Grasser Racing Team

Photo by: Alexander Trienitz

Bortolotti was super-consistent in the first four rounds of the season, establishing a nine-point lead in the standings over eventual champion van der Linde after the Norisring event in July.

However, his championship challenge was derailed by a series of poor results when the season resumed after the summer break, including a collision with Red Bull’s Felipe Fraga while chasing him for victory at the Nurburgring.

A red flag while he was on a rapid lap in Hockenheim qualifying was the final nail in the coffin, ending his hopes of making Lamborghini the first non-German manufacturer to win a title in DTM since 1993.

But Bortolotti feels it wouldn’t be fair to compare his recent results to what he achieved earlier in the year, and insists there was no drop in the team’s performance in the second half of the year despite what the scorecard might suggest.

Asked if he was disappointed with the outcome of the championship given how strong he was in the first half of the campaign, the factory Lamborghini driver said: “No, we kept performing exactly the same way, even better than the first half - but we just didn't collect it the second half, that's the difference. It's not about the performance. 

“The Nurburgring was a bad weekend, we don’t have to talk about it. Spa was a really bad weekend as well for other reasons.

“The way we went into the second half, we don’t have to forget how we ended up there. So there were performances in the first half of the season that were outstanding and is also why we were in the position [to fight for the title].

“So it is easy to see only the downside, but at the end of the day I always say you can only judge the full season and not only half a season.”

An overall champion in the Blancpain GT series and a two-time class winner in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Bortolotti said he enjoyed his first season in the DTM but it is up to Lamborghini to decide whether he would return to the championship for another assault at the title in 2023.

His development duties for the 2024 Lamborghini LMDh project will have no impact on his racing programme next year, with the Italian again expected to compete a full season of racing across a wide variety of championships and enduros.

“For sure, we all know about the importance of the championship,” he said. “It has been great to be here, great to be here with Lamborghini and represent our brand in this championship. 

“There are things that I enjoyed and there are other things that I enjoyed a bit less but overall I would say definitely it's been really positive to be here and I enjoy it. 

“It's not my decision [to continue in DTM or not]. I drive whatever Lamborghini wants me to drive. I think there are many really nice championships, I really like them all. 

“At the end it's up to them what the most strategic would be for the brand they will put me in.”

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