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Why a works Aston Martin driver will race a Lamborghini in DTM

Factory Aston Martin driver Nicki Thiim will be competing in the DTM for the first time this year, but oddly he will do so not at the wheel of a Vantage GT3 but a Lamborghini Huracan.

Nicki Thiim, T3 Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3

Photo by: T3 Motorsport

Part of Aston's factory roster since 2014, Thiim will drive for Lamborghini outfit T3 Motorsport in the DTM's second season under GT3 regulations, realising a 20-year-old dream to join one of the most prestigious championships in Europe.

His father Kurt Thiim won the 1986 DTM title in a Rover Vitesse and was regarded by many as one of the greatest drivers of the series’ ‘classic’ era.

It wasn’t easy for the one-time Le Mans 24 Hours class winner to land a drive in the DTM, especially after previous attempts to race in the series last year came to nought. However, Thiim was ultimately able to ink a contract just weeks before the start of pre-season testing to ensure he’ll be one of the 29 drivers on a bumper 2022 DTM grid.

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Originally, the plan was to get Aston Martin to return to the DTM for the first time since 2019, when R-Motorsport fielded a quartet of self-built Vantage Class One cars with a license from the British car manufacturer.

T3 Motorsport itself showed interest in running Aston machinery in the DTM after being frustrated by a lack of support from Lamborghini, but an agreement could not be reached with the manufacturer for the team to switch cars over the winter.

Toksport, which has established itself in ADAC GT Masters with Luca Stolz, then entered into talks with both Mercedes and Aston Martin about competing in the DTM full-time in 2022, having made a successful wildcard appearance last year in an AMG GT3.

However, with Aston Martin’s order book already at full capacity and with no other Vantage GT3s readily available at its Banbury base, it was simply not possible for Toksport to source a new car for this season.

Once it became clear that the Aston route was closed, Thiim’s manager Dennis Rostek tried to convince the sportscar maker to let the Danish driver race for another team in the DTM.  Aston was initially hesitant to let Thiim represent another manufacturer, but it eventually green-lit the deal with T3 Motorsport earlier this month in March.

"Initially, it was all about Aston Martin entering the DTM this year," said Rostek, who heads the Pole Promotion management company.

"I think that Aston Martin definitely belongs in this racing series, but no agreement could be reached. In the end they decided to strongly support two other racing series [GT World Challenge Europe and the Nurburgring-based NLS].

"I then started talking and asked for a release [from his contract]. At first they smiled wearily, [but] I didn't give up. We kept trying for so long."

Thiim added: "The English are a bit stubborn, but everything went well. Jens [Feucht, T3 Motorsport boss] and Dennis lost their last few hairs because the negotiations were tough. But now we are here and I am super happy."

Nicki Thiim, T3 Motorsport

Nicki Thiim, T3 Motorsport

Photo by: T3 Motorsport

T3 Motorsport was interested in recruiting Thiim when it first joined the DTM in 2021, but the team eventually opted for Esteban Muth and Esmee Hawkey for its two-car line-up.

Muth left T3 Motorsport over the winter to join BMW squad Walkenhorst Motorsport, opening the path for Thiim to race in the DTM less than three decades after his father last raced in what was then known as the International Touring Car Championship.

Thiim had been assessing his options after Aston Martin quit the GTE Pro class of the FIA World Endurance Championship at the end of the 2019/20 season to focus on its newly-rebranded Formula 1 team, leaving him without a full-season drive.

The two-time WEC champion made sporadic race appearances in a variety of championships last year, but has now secured two full programmes for 2022, dovetailing his newly-announced DTM commitments with a season in GTWCE’s Endurance Cup with the Prodrive-run Beechdean AMR team.

“Jens has always been ready because it was also his dream to do something together," said Thiim of his collaboration with T3 Motorsport in DTM.

"That's why I'm happy about Jens' trust, because the project got off the ground very late. We are clearly behind the others in terms of time, but we don't let that dampen our spirits and are still very motivated. And I'm sure it will be really good."

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