DTM x SUPER GT at Hockenheimring
As the DTM prepares to head to Japan for its first-ever race tie-up with the country’s SUPER GT series, we take a look at the Audi and BMW drivers taking part in the Dream Race at Fuji Speedway.
The Frenchman established his credentials in Japan, racing in Formula Nippon and SUPER GT for many years, winning titles in 2009 and ’10 respectively. As an Audi driver, his greatest triumph came at Le Mans in 2013, which he won driving alongside sportscar stalwarts Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish. Duval has raced in DTM for the past three seasons, earning his sole pole position at Misano, Italy, back in 2018.
Best known for his Formula 1 career (he started 75 GPs, earning an emotional podium finish for Sauber at Suzuka, in 2012), the Japanese racer has more recently become a mainstay of the FIA WEC series. Since 2016, he has raced for Toyota, finishing runner-up three times at Le Mans (in 2016, ’18 and ’19). As a local hero and a fan favourite, he makes his DTM debut this weekend with BMW.
The 33-year-old has largely steamrollered the opposition since arriving into the DTM in 2016. Rast secured the title in his first full season (2017; three wins; five podiums), narrowly missed out last year (despite a late-season charge that earned him six successive wins), and quickly emerged as the dominant force in ’19. He heads to Fuji looking to add to the seven DTM wins he clinched during the year. Unarguably, the DTM’s form favourite.
As well as winning the DTM, with Audi, back in 2013, the German made his name by winning the Le Mans 24 Hours with the German marque in 2010, driving alongside Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas. He graduated to DTM in 2007, and has dovetailed his programme with a series of successful GT and sports car drives, regularly taking part in the category’s blue-riband enduros at the Nurburgring, Sebring, Daytona and Le Mans.
The Frenchman is a three-time winner of Le Mans – in 2011, ’12 and ’14; each for Audi, and alongside Marcel Fassler and Andre Lotterer. Like his countryman Loïc Duval, Tréulyer raced extensively in Japan at the start of his career, winning both the Formula Nippon (2006) and SUPER GT (2008) titles. After a long and illustrious career spent largely with Audi, including stints driving the DTM race taxi, he graduates to a race drive for the very first time at Fuji.
After rapidly ascending the junior single-seater ladder, Marco Wittmann made similarly fleet progress upon joining the DTM in 2013. In only his second season (’14), he took his first title, repeating the feat two seasons later, each time with BMW. In 2019, the 29-year-old enjoyed another strong season, scoring four victories, but his title challenge faltered as Audi’s RS5 DTM car emerged as the more competitive package.
There are few who don’t know the Alex Zanardi story: after blazing a trail in Champ Car, where his racecraft, bravery and raw pace dazzled, he failed to make his mark in F1 for Williams and returned to the US. In 2001, he suffered a horrifying accident racing at Germany’s Lausitzring – in which he lost both his legs. Unbowed by the setback, he soon returned to racing, also earning four gold medals as an Olympic hand-cyclist. His open-hearted embrace of the positives that can be taken from life has made him an inspirational figure on the world’s sporting stage.