Title defence gets underway

03. Mai 2017 Zurück zur Artikelübersicht »

When the opening race of the 2017 DTM season gets underway at the Hockenheimring in Baden-Württemberg on Saturday, it will be exactly 202 days since Marco Wittmann was crowned DTM champion at the very same venue for the second time in his career. Fourth place in the 18th and final race of last season was enough to ensure that the BMW driver remained ahead of his closest rival, Italian Edoardo Mortara, and secured the DTM trophy in a thrilling finale.

Much has happened since then. Not only was Wittmann rewarded for his championship-winning exploits with a special BMW M4 as his new company car, but the German has also been a very busy man with a packed calendar. For example, he was at the BMW plant in Landshut for the grand BMW Motorsport Launch last Friday, before heading to Dingolfing on the Saturday for the roll-out of the new BMW M4 DTM for the 2017 season. He then dropped in to BMW Welt in Munich for the BMW Motorsport Days on Sunday, after which he made an appearance on the SWR sports programme “Flutlicht’ in Mainz on the Sunday evening. Tuesday saw him return to his native Franconia on Tuesday for more interviews. The champion can hardly wait to finally get back to doing what he does best – scoring points on the racetrack as he looks to defend his title.

“It is obviously very nice to go into a DTM season as the defending champion for the second time in my career – not with the number 1 this time, but with the number 11. I hope that brings me more luck than last time,” said Marco Wittmann, referring to the 2015 season, when he ended the year in sixth place. Instead of the “1” traditionally sported by the champion’s car, he will line up in 2017 with his own personal start number “11”, with which he claimed his second title last year.

The new DTM season traditionally kicks off at the same place as it draws to a conclusion a few months later: at the Hockenheimring, near Heidelberg, which has hosted more races in this popular series than anywhere else. Marco Wittmann is looking forward to returning to the scene of his success. “I have very fond memories of Hockenheim. After all, I won the title there in my last race. That was a great weekend,” he says. In 2014, victory in Hockenheim – his first in the DTM – paved the way to his first title.

In 2017, all the DTM drivers are looking forward to having more power, new tyres and a more efficient DRS system. However, the latter may only be used for twelve laps. Saturday’s race will now be the same length as the Sunday race: 55 minutes plus one lap. The drivers will also be required to make a pit stop in both races. The teams may only use eight mechanics during the mandatory tyre change, while only two wheel guns may be employed. Furthermore, the drivers are on their own during the race: they may no longer receive information on how the race is developing via radio communication from the pit lane. Another new feature is the fact that bonus points (3-2-1) will now be awarded to the fastest three drivers in qualifying.

Saturday’s race at the opening race weekend in Hockenheim begins at 14:48 (live on ARD from 14:30). Marco Wittmann and his five fellow BMW drivers get underway 30 minutes later at 15:13 on Sunday (live on ARD from 15:00).