In Cologne, carnival gets underway on the eleventh of November. Marco Wittmann also got in a festive mood after his eleventh DTM race win with his BMW sporting starting number eleven, and in his home race at the Norisring on top of that. Joy for the driver from Fürth was boundless. “Mega, mega, mega, that was the race of my life. I had never thought that I would make it that far up. Especially after starting from seventh place on the grid,” he said overjoyed.
Wittmann climbed out of his car, stepped onto the bonnet and enthusiastically raised his arms into the air over and over again. Then, totally enraptured, he jumped into the arms of his mechanics and engineers before running cheerfully across the main straight towards the packed concrete grandstand after the stage diving, excitedly waving to his fans. At that moment, a lasso would have been needed to catch the two times’ DTM champion. Last but not least, his team principal Stefan Reinhold ran into Wittmann’s arms while the driver was on his way to the podium.
On the previous day, Wittmann had already completed his unfinished business. The Fürth-born driver has been racing in the DTM since 2013. Twice, he finished fourth, once he came fifth and twice, he was classified sixth at the only street circuit on the calendar of the touring car series. But he never actually made it onto the podium at the Norisring, his home track. And then, there was this unforgettable weekend for him. After third place on Saturday, he added victory on Sunday.
Wittmann doesn’t claim his betting debt
“Today, I simply left out the second step on the podium. That is beautiful, I can’t describe it. Here, I have tried so many times and it never worked out. For me, this home win almost equals my two titles,” Wittmann said. Later on, he generously refrained from claiming his betting debt. Wolfgang Schlosser, the chairman of the organising Motorsport Club Nürnberg, had betted with the BMW driver for years ago that he would cut off his shoulder-long grey hair in case Wittmann would win. “His wife likes his hair very much. Therefore, we leave the hair on and I just enjoy my victory.”
After ten laps, Wittmann came in for the pit stop. After that, he switched the turbo on. He charged his way through the field, drove like unbounded. On lap 16, he overtook Edoardo Mortara. On lap 23, the latter’s fellow Mercedes-AMG driver Daniel Juncadella was the next one. “We stopped at the right time. We had a similar strategy to yesterday. Daniel was out with cold tyres. Here, the undercut is generally difficult. While the others were battling, I was able to extend the gap. Particularly during the early part of my second stint, I pushed extremely and was hard on my tyres,” he said.
It got really close in the end
Towards the end of the race, his margin decreased more and more. The two main rivals even came within the DRS window. Wittmann defended as well as he could and eventually crossed the finish line 0.450 and 0.860 seconds ahead of the two Mercedes-AMG drivers. “I was at the limit. With 15 minutes remaining, I looked to see how much race time was left. It felt like an hour. Both put me under immense pressure from behind,” Wittmann said. “Tonight, we will certainly open a bottle of wine. Then, I have one week holiday to recharge my batteries and then I am looking forward to Zandvoort. There, I have always been very successful, too.” Prior to the two races on the Dutch North Sea coast, the hunt for the third championship crown has started. In the drivers’ standings, Gary Paffett is leading with 99 points from Mortara (93) and Wittmann (92), who is tied on points with Timo Glock in third place. Paul Di Resta also has a good perspective with 87 points.