Sheer Wittmann magic – a remarkable win from last on the grid at Misano
Wittmann, DTM champion in 2014 and ’16 had started dead last after failing to set a single timed lap in Saturday morning’s qualifying session after encountering an engine problem with his BMW. From last place, he boxed at the end of the opening lap, took advantage of a mid-race Safety Car – to retrieve the stranded car of Joel Eriksson – and fought his way into the top 10, taking the lead when the cars ahead of him stopped for fresh rubber in the middle stages of the race.
Once ahead, Wittmann drove a canny, measured race – refusing to over-stress his tyres – to finish ahead of pole-sitter Rene Rast, who had charged back into contention, chasing down his countryman in the closing laps. By his own admission, Rast was pushing hard – but didn’t have quite enough time on the clock to sufficiently close the gap to the leader.
The Audi driver had looked in a class of his own: at the start, the 2017 champion vaulted into an easily maintained lead, only losing out when he stopped for fresh rubber. Audi driver Loïc Duval (FRA) took the final podium slot while Daniel Juncadella (ESP) was the best-placed Aston Martin driver in 13th.
Guest driver Andrea Dovizioso made a huge first impression on his DTM debut. The Ducati MotoGP rider didn’t put a foot wrong all day, was solidly on the pace, and looked perfectly comfortable battling closely with other drivers for the entire duration of the race. In such a tightly contested field, 12th place at the chequer was absolutely nothing to be sniffed at.
“As much as bad luck as we were having at Zolder,
“We had as much good luck here at Misano as we had bad luck at Zolder last month,” smile Wittmann on the podium. “From the very beginning, it was clear that we only had one chance to score points – and that was an ultra-early pit-stop and a Safety Car intervention.
“And that’s exactly what happened.
“However, in the heat, and on this aggressive asphalt, 38 laps on one set of tyres was quite something. I really hoped that we wouldn’t get a punctures: it was really on the edge, but I am all happier for how it turned out.”
A contented Rast said: “I tried everything to catch Marco, but it turned out to be impossible. Had I failed to catch him by just a few tenths, I would’ve been angry. Still, second is a super result.”
Duval added: “I was following René for a long time and I let things play out. Unfortunately, this time we were unlucky with the safety car intervention. But that’s all part of the game. Had it not been for the Safety Car, I’m certain it would’ve been a one-two for Audi this afternoon.”
After his DTM debut, Dovizioso said: “That was great fun and a lot of hard work! When you start well down the order, it’s obvious that you don’t have the chance to learn from the guys at the front and to emulate them. I still have a lot to learn – but, on the other hand, I had plenty of exciting duels. And I can’t complain about the result either. A great race.”