Marco Wittmann dominated the first day of racing in DTM’s first visit to the TT Circuit Assen, Holland, taking pole and winning the wet Saturday race. A sensor failure in qualifying for race two forced him to start from the back of the grid, yet miraculously the two-time series champion crossed the line in second place.
“After yesterday, for sure qualifying was quite the disappointing session,” explained the BMW driver, “a sensor failure meant I didn’t have the engine power in quali so we couldn’t do a proper time.
“On a track where you probably expect overtaking is difficult your hope isn’t that big to be honest.
“But then the race completely turned to my page somehow.”
Wittmann made a good start, and was able to climb the order as cars went side-by-side for much of the opening lap. The BMW driver rose from 18th to 11th by the end of lap one, and after ten laps was looking to make a move for fifth position.
“We had such a good opening lap,” described Wittmann, “I was finding myself already in P11 after the first lap.
“I don’t know why but we had such a good racecar, we kept the car exactly the same as yesterday and I think that was actually the key.
“I could fight my way up to P6 and then I was a bit stuck behind the Audis. So we decided to stop earlier and to make an undercut and suddenly we were out behind René [Rast].”
After making a relatively early pitstop Wittmann would need to manage his tyres for over 20 laps in order to take a podium. His chances of standing on the rostrum looked in doubt as he was passed easily by eventual race winner Audi Sport Team Phoenix’s Mike Rockenfeller.
Wittmann revealed that he was struggling with the Hankook tyres, and was desperately managing them to the end of the race.
“It was really critical on my side, there were 20 minutes left and I had already massive front vibrations on the car and tyres,” reported Wittmann.
“To be honest I was not sure if we could make it to the end, and I even asked my team they should consider a second pitstop incase.”
Despite nursing the car to the line, Wittmann was delighted to score his fourth podium of the season, and close the gap to Audi Sport Team Rosberg’s René Rast who sits atop the championship standings.
“Coming home in P2 is way more than I expected before the race, to start last and finish second with no safety car or incidents is quite incredible.
“I think my guys did an awesome job in preparing the car for the race.”