This week’s pre-season test at Portimao started late in the evening and ran into the night, with the checkered flag not waived until 10pm local time.
Although the schedule was not by design but circumstances, as the DTM needed extra time in daylight to set up TV cameras after last weekend’s MotoGP race at the Portuguese venue, it has led to suggestions that the championship should consider a return of night races in the near future.
The DTM hosted a pair of races under the floodlight at Misano in 2018, before switching back to a more conventional time slot the following year. He also experimented with running the top 10 qualifying shootout at night at the Nurburgring back in 2003, but that format was never used again in the future.
Asked if drivers would like to see night races make a comeback in the DTM, BMW’s Philipp Eng said: “I would definitely say yes. Night racing is always cool.
“Even though it was only a test session it always feels cool when the sun sets and you switch the high beam on, and there is just the light and the racetrack ahead of you.
“So, I think it would be really cool for the show. Everybody that watches 24-hour races knows that the pictures are incredible and very spectacular. You see the brake discs glowing and everything, so if DTM comes up with that idea, I would 100% be up for the challenge.”
Dev Gore, Team Rosberg Audi R8 LMS GT3
Photo by: Alexander Trienitz
Reigning champion Maximilian Gotz said the DTM should take the concept of night races even further, by organizing music concerts and opening the paddock to spectators.
“I know how it is to drive by night and it would be a mega event if the DTM comes up with this idea of doing late race in the day, like from 8 to 9 [pm]and after [the race] having a great concert or party in the paddock with all the spectators, open pitlane and open paddock for everybody,” said the Mercedes driver.
“This would be a nice for fans and for all for us. I hope the DTM will follow our ideas. This would be really, really great. We saw it in the past, it worked quite well and I think for spectators it’s hugely spectacular .
“I’m looking forward to talk about this, bringing up this discussion is great. I’m fully committed to this. Let’s see how it goes.”
T3 Motorsport Lamborghini driver Esmee Hawkey added: “[Portimao] was actually my first test of driving in the dark, so it was very different to what I’ve ever experienced before.
“But it would definitely be a spectacle and something I would enjoy. It’s a challenge that all the drivers would be interested in.
“Testing was pretty cool, it’s very different racing in the dark. You can’t see as much, so it’s something to get used to but it’s something that I enjoyed.”
Porsche racer Thomas Preining said he would like to see a night race around the streets of Norisring, which is already considered the most iconic venue on the DTM calendar.
“I think night racing at Norisring would be cool,” he said. “In general night racing is always something special. Also in sprint races, not only in endurance, we’ve seen on many occasions in various different series.
“It usually works very well and I would definitely welcome it to the DTM. It would be a cool addition.”