Why the DTM is holding pre-season testing in Portimao at night

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Before the new season kicks off in earnest at the Portuguese circuit later this weekend, all 29 cars will enjoy two days of track racing on April 26-27 to complete their final preparations for the new campaign.

However, the test conditions will be very different from what riders will experience in the opening round from April 30 to May 1 – or any other time of the season, for that matter.

Pit lane will not open until 5 p.m. local time on Tuesday and Wednesday, with each session ending five hours later at 10 p.m. The weather forecast calls for the sun to set at 8.17pm Algarve time, which means the on-track action will start at dusk and end in darkness.

By contrast, this weekend’s two races at Portimao are due to start at 12.30pm local time and finish just under an hour later in broad daylight.

The remaining seven rounds of the 2022 season will start at 1.30pm CEST, each of the 14 races lasting 55 minutes plus one lap – with provisions for the action to be extended in the event of extended safety car periods. Therefore, the timing of the test may seem confusing at first sight.

But the unconventional schedule is the result of Portimao hosting a MotoGP round last weekend, leaving the DTM no time to place TV cameras around the track in advance. Thus, the championship will complete the work of setting up television production during the day, before the cars are allowed to run later in the evening.

Additionally, the ambient temperature is not expected to drop below 10 degrees Celsius even at night, leaving the organizers reasonably confident that conditions will be representative enough for teams and drivers.

There is a good chance of rain on Tuesday, but the track is expected to remain dry for the second day of racing.

The weather had already had an impact on pre-season preparations, with a two-day test at Hockenheimring earlier this month taking place in mixed conditions.

Composition of drivers for the Portimao test

Start of testing, Marco Wittmann, Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW M4 GT3 in the lead

Picture by: DTM

A total of 30 drivers will gather in Portimao for two days of racing, with Sébastien Loeb and Nick Cassidy sharing the AlphaTauri branded Ferrari 488 GT3 AF Corse.

The test will give WRC legend Loeb the last chance to acclimate to Ferrari ahead of his DTM debut later this week, where he will replace an absent Cassidy in the Red Bull roster.

Esmee Hawkey will also be present in Portimao after missing the previous test at Hockenheimring after testing positive for COVID-19. There were also doubts over Hawkey’s return to the DTM for a second season due to sponsorship issues, but the situation was resolved in time for the first round.

The 24-year-old is also expected to make an appearance at the official press conference on Wednesday morning.

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