Marco Wittmann ‘wasn’t sure’ if he would make the checkered flag at...

Marco Wittmann ‘wasn’t sure’ if he would make the checkered flag at Misano

Photo: DTM

BMW Team RMG driver Marco Wittmann claimed an unlikely win in the first DTM race at Misano, Italy, after starting the race from last on the grid and risking his race result on a opening lap pitstop.

The two-time series champion was forced to start the race from the back of the grid after an airbox issue meant he could not set a time in qualifying.

However, the German shocked the paddock to manage his tyres to the checkered flag, and win his 99th race in the DTM.

“I have to say after my qualifying problems,” explained Wittmann, “starting last, it was clear we have to take some risk and have some luck.

“Stopping on lap one, we knew before the race it would be a tricky one to run all the way through on one set.

“We actually weren’t sure if we could make it. It was more or less all about managing the tyres.

“I had a lot of vibrations in the car. The thoughts of a tyre puncture or failure were always there.”

After making his mandatory stop on the opening lap, Wittmann benefitted from the safety car intervention as BMW Team RBM’s Joel Eriksson stopped out on track.

“I have to say it worked out pretty well with the safety car, with the luck we had today, it really helped us a lot in the end.”

Despite having to sit out in qualifying, Wittmann said he maintained a positive attitude that helped him in the race.

“The pace was reasonable yesterday,” the German explained, “and I was looking forward to having a good qualifying.

“Sometimes it is like this, and you just need to keep your head up and focused for the race.

“At the end you can see sometimes, even from last, a race is not lost. With a bit of luck we made it.”

At the Indy-style restart, Wittmann revealed that making up positions was not his main focus, and that he always had his eye on the long game.

“Knowing that I was one of the only cars who had made our mandatory stop, I think it is not all about pushing in the first laps after the restart.

“The tricky part is to have no crash or incidents with the other drivers who are still pushing and fighting for positions.

“It’s a bit of a compromise really, to overtake to make some time up, but also not to risk too much in the fights.

Fundamental to Wittmann’s underdog victory was how he managed his tyres for almost the entirety of the race distance. The BMW driver explained that his team had no understanding about how his Hankook tyres would fare in the closing laps.

“Always on a Friday in free practice, we do some long runs which is about 15 timed laps. Today it was like 37 or 38 laps, and we had no clue in the heat here if we could manage it.

“At the end you could really feel the cliff coming.”

With his second win of the season, Wittmann has climbed to second in the standings with 68 points, seven behind Audi Sport Team Rosberg’s René Rast who took pole and a second place finish.