Two-time DTM champion Marco Wittmann got off to a flying start in the new GT3 era of the DTM. With victory in Zolder, he gave Walkenhorst Motorsport its first DTM win in just its sixth race in the series, on a track which normally doesn’t suit the BMW M6 GT3.
Sunday was all about Wittmann and Walkenhorst as the combination first took pole position and then drove off to victory at the Flemish race track. For the 31-year-old German, it was his first win in the new era of the DTM, and first since 2019.
Happy and still thrilling from the success in Belgium, Wittmann described his surprise by the weekend’s outcome.
“Before we came here this weekend to Zolder, we didn’t expect to be this strong,” the Franconian says.
“But from Friday onwards, we had a good car, a good package, and made some little improvements all in the right direction. We were already competitive in Saturday’s race and today it was pole position and the race win – what a weekend!
“A big congrats to the guys at Walkenhorst because they put a lot of effort in. We had quite a few damages from yesterday’s race, so they had to work all night long to repair them, and to give them such a payback with the pole and the win is just great, amazing, and I’m super proud.”
Circuit Zolder far from suits the BMW M6 GT3, a car that finds is strength in long, fast turns while being notoriously hard to handle on tracks with tight corners – exactly that which characterises the Belgian racecourse.
Despite the car’s reputation, even after five years of service, the M6 still had a trick up its sleeve.
“As I said, before we came here, we didn’t expect to have any chances, really. The low-speed corners, the very tight chicanes – it normally doesn’t suit the M6. But for whatever reason we had from Friday onwards a strong package: the car was behaving well, the balance was nice, I felt very comfortable with the car and could extract a lot out of it.
“Still, it was a surprise for us. Yesterday in quali P3, today pole position – it caught us by surprise somehow. We knew that we are better than expected, but that we are really fighting for top positions – it was still somehow kind of, I’m not sure, I don’t trust the picture at the moment. But somehow we made it work.”
The only one posing a threat to Wittmann was Mercedes-AMG Team Winward driver Lucas Auer. However, the Austrian was slapped with a 5-second time penalty after the pitstops, giving the BMW pilot a buffer to Maximilian Götz who was close but not close enough to get ahead of Auer and attack for the lead.
“We had a great opening stint,” Wittmann continues.
“After the pitstop it was close on pit exit with Lucas, but then we had a good pace and could open the gap again. At the end we had a bit of tyre degradation where Lucas came closer again, but I knew this track is very difficult to overtake on. I knew that if I wouldn’t make any mistakes, we can bring it home. I kept full focus the last 15 laps, making no mistakes, and we crossed the line as leader!”
As DTM and sprint race debutants, Walkenhorst Motorsport was looking at a steep learning curve. However, led by the 16-time race winner, the endurance specialists have proven to be quick learners.
“Coming this year with the M6, it was clear for us it would be a hard year, a challenging year, also for the team Walkenhorst in their first year in DTM.
“There was a lot of learn, a lot of challenges, but we decided to accept it and take them on and go for it.
“Obviously, it’s still a long season, there will still be races where it will be difficult for us, I’m pretty sure. For us it was mainly the year to learn and take on those challenges and next year with the M4 – with the new car that’s coming – try to attack full.
“We started the season well, Walkenhorst could win in their sixth race in DTM which is great for them and for myself as well.
“Let’s see what comes next. The goal is to win more races, at least. For sure, we try to take that momentum with us, and we know it won’t be easy, but we also know that we’ll have some tracks like Spielberg and Assen which should fit the M6 and we hope for good results. In DTM anything can happen.
“We are pretty relaxed as a team – we don’t really look at the championship standings, we go race by race and are super happy about this weekend in which we showed potential, showed highlights, and from there on we go.”
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