Wittmann: Zolder win "tasted sweet" after "tough" run in DTM

Factory BMW driver Marco Wittmann says his first DTM victory in two years “tasted sweet”, having ended a “tough” run of results with an impressive drive at Zolder.

Wittmann had been one of the most consistent performers in the DTM since his debut in 2013, winning the championship with BMW in only his second season in the category before adding another title to his tally in ‘16.

He was arguably even more impressive in the first year of the Class One engine era in 2019, as he regularly challenged a dominant Audi contingent to finish third overall behind champion Rene Rast and second-place Nico Muller.

But his form took a nosedive last year in the final year of the Class One era as he failed to match the results of his BMW stablemates Timo Glock and Sheldon van der Linde, slumping to ninth in the standings - his worst championship finish in eight seasons.

The 31-year-old likewise failed to replicate his early career results at the start of the DTM’s GT3 era this year, bagging a best finish of fifth in the opening two rounds after joining the Walkenhorst team.

However, all of that changed at Zolder last weekend as he converted pole position into victory on Sunday, ending a victory drought stretching back to Brands Hatch in 2019.

Asked by Motorsport.com if the victory tasted sweeter given his mixed recent results in the DTM, Wittmann said: “Yeah, definitely, because the last-one-and a half years in the DTM were pretty hard. 

“With my two titles in the background you always went into a new DTM season with the aim to win it again, and obviously the last one and a half years were pretty tough. We just did not have the package to fight for the podiums, for the wins - not even for the championship at all. 

“This year has had quite a big change in the DTM going from Class One cars to the GT3 cars. Also a challenge for me to be honest because I raced the GT3 cars mainly in the long endurance races, not in the sprint format, so I also had to learn quite a bit.

“But it definitely tastes sweet to have that win again and obviously to have some strong results. I just hope it continues."

He added: “Our overall aim was definitely on the lower side as we did not expect to have a proper real chance with the M6, which has its last year in the GT3 [category].

“But at some tracks and on some occasions the car is still quick, and obviously we showed today the performance.”

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The BMW M6 that will be retired at the end of the 2021 season in favour of the all-new M4 GT3 has traditionally been more suited to fast and flowing circuits, which is why it has been successful in 24-hour races at Nurburgring Nordschleife and Spa-Francorchamps.

Wittmann was surprised to see how well the M6 performed at Zolder, given the nature of the former Belgian Grand Prix venue.

“When we came here to the track we did not really have high expectations to be honest, and the track shouldn't really suit the M6 with all the lower speed corners, especially in sectors two and three and the tight chicanes,” he said.

“Our goal is on tracks which are fitting the M6, that should be Assen and Spielberg, where we seem to be or hope to be strong there. So obviously we did not expect to win here, but we'll take it, and really happy for all of us.”

Race winner Marco Wittmann, Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW M6 GT3

Race winner Marco Wittmann, Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW M6 GT3

Photo by: Gruppe C GmbH

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