Marco Wittmann bounced back from a difficult qualifying with a last-to-first victory for BMW. Making the most of an early pitstop and a safety car period, Wittmann took his 13th career victory in the opening race in Misano.
On Sunday, June 9, Marco Wittmann will drive his 100th DTM career race. Today, made number 99 special with a very unexpected victory. An impressive drive, including a gamble when he pitted at the end of lap one, saw him cross the finish line first, having started from the very back of the field. An uncommon feat even from the best of drivers. “Well, I mean, I have to say after my qualifying problems actually and starting last, for us it was clear we had to take some risk to maybe get the big points.” Said Wittmann. “And having some luck. All this happened today. Stopping in lap one and we knew before the race it will be a tricky one.” Aston Martin’s Ferdinand Habsburg did the same pitstop strategy, but couldn’t produce similar results.
When Wittmann’s BMW teammate Joel Eriksson slowed down and eventually parked his car off the track, the safety car got deployed. All gaps were gone, which was positive for the BMW driver. But, he had to manage his tires perfectly as it’s a high-speed track with high temperatures. “It was more or less all about managing the tires.” Admitted Wittmann. “I have to say it worked out pretty well. Of course, with the safety car and with the luck we had today, it helped us a lot. And at the end, I mean, I would say the last five or six laps were pretty tricky for me because I got a lot of vibrations in the car. I had no more tires left. The thought of a tire puncture, a tire failure was always there at the end. But in the end, we made it to the finish.”
By the time the chequered flag fell, Wittmann had managed to hold on to his position and finished 8.2 seconds in front of his Audi rival Rene Rast, who started from pole position. In the final stages of the race, Rast tried to hunt down Wittmann. After he passed Habsburg for second place, he drove in clear air and managed to bring down Wittmann’s gap from 28 seconds to 8.2.
Following the race, Rast said: “In the end, we finished second which is positive. Good points for the championship. Obviously, the race was decided by the safety car again. Which I am not happy about but that’s racing, it’s DTM. We have to deal with that. So sometimes you are lucky, sometimes unlucky. So that’s it. But yeah, in general, happy with the car, good pace. Looking forward to tomorrow.”
Loic Duval finished third, the same position as where he started. He has been successful in Misano before, taking pole position in the night race last year. “Yeah, I’m super happy.” Duval said after the race. “I mean, I think it’s a well-deserved podium when you see the performance since the practice, qualifying and the race. Again, the safety car played a big role today. I think I could have finished first and second without the Safety Car. But that’s the way it is, you know.” The Frenchman is looking forward to tomorrow’s race, saying “we have to work on it to improve for tomorrow. But it is definitely a good start.”
We find the second BMW driver in fourth – Bruno Spengler. After a great start from sixth, he could control the race. In fifth and sixth we find another pair of Audi drivers – Nico Mueller and Mike Rockenfeller. Both drivers were on a similar strategy, making their mandatory pitstops on lap 14 of the race. Zolder race winner Philipp Eng finished in seventh ahead of Jonathan Aberdein. Aberdein qualified second but suffered a poor start and a slow pitstop, leaving him in eighth, just in front of fellow South African driver Sheldon van der Linde. BMW’s Timo Glock takes the final point.
Guest starter and MotoGP star Andrea Dovizioso impressed again by finishing 12th, a little behind Pietro Fittipaldi who stepped in for Jamie Green. We even saw some great battles from the Italian rider just after the restart. Aston Martin drivers Daniel Juncadella, Ferdinand Habsburg and Jake Dennis finished in 13th to 15th. Three drivers did not make the finish line unfortunately – Paul di Resta, Robin Frijns and Joel Eriksson.
Tomorrow’s qualifying session kicks off at 10.45 local time (09.45 UK time) ahead of the race at 13.30 local time (12.30 UK time).