“It still gives me goose bumps”
In the press conference on Sunday at Hockenheim, Marco Wittmann had to play second fiddle. While the fans frenetically celebrated the new DTM Champion Gary Paffett and René Rast who won six consecutive races, the 28-year old had to accept the role of felicitators although he secured pole and finished second in the Saturday race, thus making for a dose of reconciliation, in the end. Nonetheless, Wittmann wasn’t happy with his DTM season. “The entire season featured ups and downs. As two-time champion I always have the goal to make it to the very top but we weren’t able to do so, this year.”
With slight hindsight, however, Wittmann had a good season. He secured six podiums and made it to the top step in the Sunday races at Budapest and the Norisring. With 164 points he finished fourth in the championship, thus being the best BMW driver and improving by one position compared to 2017. But he never was a factor in the battle for the title. After the two races at the Norisring things didn’t run smoothly for the German. At that point in time he had 92 points, just seven less than the future champion, Mercedes-AMG driver Gary Paffett. In the six races held at Zandvoort, Brands Hatch and Misano, the 2014 and 2016 champion added just 20 points to his tally and the gap to Paffett increased to 91 points.
Cluelessness at mid-season
“We were good at the Lausitzring and really great at the Norisring. We now have to analyse why we had to cope with a rough time around the middle of the season. We just weren’t competitive at this period of time. We partially were absolutely clueless, our performance was sub-par and we lost a lot of ground compared to our rivals. That was really tough,” admits Wittmann who won in Hungary from 14th grid position – inter alia due to a safety-car period because of several incidents in the pit lane cause by heavy rain, before having to cope with the period of poor competitiveness
But first of all he won his home race, held at the only street circuit on the DTM calendar. “The Norisring definitely was my season highlight. So many emotions! It still gives me goose bumps when I talk about it,” reveals Wittmann. His Norisring record to date: two fourth, one fifth and two sixth places. He never made it to the podium – up to this unforgettable weekend in June.
On Saturday he made it to the podium by coming third and on Sunday he upped the ante by finally winning his home race. After the triumph Wittmann ran cheering down the home straight to the packed ‘Steintribüne’ to enthusiastically wave to his fans. At this moment one would have needed a lasso to capture him. “For so many years I tried in vain to win a DTM race in Nuremberg. I already was happy with my podium on Saturday and I never would have expected to win the Sunday race from P7. Afterwards, I just wanted to do something different than cheering on the car. This was a very special moment.”