DTM: Porsche’s Le Mans winner is now DTM team boss

Good things take time, they say. From this point of view, the DTM entry of sports car legend Timo Bernhard with his KÜS Team75 Bernhard should be a success. Because the now 41-year-old was about to get involved in the touring car series back in 2001 – back then as a Porsche Junior, after having just won the Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland.
Two offers were on the table: one from Opel, one from the champion team HWA. “To be honest, you simply don’t turn down a Porsche works contract that’s ready to be signed. So the direction was clear for me,” says Bernhard. It was Porsche and sports cars instead of DTM and touring cars.
21 years, two long-distance world championship titles, two overall victories in Le Mans, the record on the Nordschleife in a Porsche 919 Hybrid and five victories in the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring later, he wants to stir up the DTM as team boss.

Bernhard: “The DTM is the top series in Germany and also very well recognized internationally with a long history and very strong competition. We want to face that now.”

The KÜS Team75 Bernhard dares a new adventure in 2022 with the DTM entry.

The GT3 regulations, which the DTM has relied on since 2021, enable entry. With increasing success. Because last year there were 19 cars on the grid, this season there are 29 from Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Ferrari, Lamborghini and Porsche. Bernhard also relies on the 911 GT3 R, in the colors that have meanwhile become traditional for the racing team: “Red is my father’s favorite colour, blue is my favourite.”

Traditional family business

Papa Rüdiger founded the team in 2010, primarily for his son’s rally activities at the time. The racing team from Landstuhl in the Palatinate is a family business in which a generational change is currently taking place. Timo Bernhard is growing more and more into the role of team boss, his sister is the team manager. And the parents? “We continue to be important sources of inspiration and deliver great, valuable work. With their passion for motorsport and their commitment, they gave the go-ahead for the company,” reveals Bernhard.

The team has grown steadily since 2010 and is based on the pillars of a professional team, customer sport and young talent. Means: Parallel to the DTM, you also compete in the DTM Trophy and in customer sport in the Porsche Sports Cup. Long-standing sponsors such as Ursapharm make it possible with its “Hylo” eye drops brand. Bernhard: “We all see ourselves as real racers who live and love racing with conviction.”

The core of the group stays together

The continuity should pay off in the new DTM challenge.

For the new DTM project, the Bernhard team withdrew from the GT Masters after six years. They have also upgraded, for example with the pit stop equipment. “We attach great importance to stability when it comes to staff,” says Bernhard. The core of the squad is unchanged, Porsche works driver Thomas Preining also remains on board, the Austrian was 13th in the GT Masters in 2021.

The continuity should pay off in the new DTM challenge. “For me, this is an absolute strength, because not only have we all known each other for a long time, we also appreciate each other and the working methods are at a high level,” says Bernhard. A permanent performance engineer is new in order, according to Bernhard, “to have more consistency. For me, that’s the best way to make the step into a new series: the ‘band’ stays together.”

That’s why Preining assumes “that we can definitely be reckoned with and that we can break something. I think that a lot will be possible for us in the 2022 DTM.”

From test driver to guest driver?

The most important question remains: Will Nordschleife record holder Bernhard get into the car again for a guest start, even though he ended his active career in 2019? The fact is: team boss Bernhard is already test driver Bernhard. “I actually drive all of our vehicles to be able to provide important input for the setup,” he explains.

Starting in the race is of course a completely different story, “but if we’re doing well, who knows? Maybe there will be a unique ‘Guest Appearance’. I’m still young.”

After 21 years, Timo Bernhard could still become an official DTM driver. As is well known, good things take time.

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