27. März 2019

Nordschleife thriller: Victory for Wittmann at VLN season-opener

Many changes at the front of the field, excitement right down to the final metre, jubilant celebrations – and in the thick of it all: Marco Wittmann. The opening round of the 2019 Nordschleife season was not for the faint-hearted, with Wittmann ultimately taking victory in his first race of the year. Sharing the #99 BMW M6 GT3 of ROWE Racing with BMW works drivers Nick Catsburg and John Edwards, Wittmann finished just ahead of the #912 Manthey-Racing Porsche. Tom Blomqvist, Connor De Phillippi and Mikkel Jensen came home third in the #98 BMW M6 GT3 to round off an excellent overall result.

“That was a really close battle in the closing stages. John was climbing all over the rear of the Porsche the whole time. In the end, we were a little fortunate with the Code 60 phase,” said Wittmann at the end of an eventful day of racing in the Eifel, which tried the patience of drivers, teams and spectators alike.

Typical Eifel, including thick fog, caused qualifying to be delayed for several hours and threw the entire schedule into turmoil. The result: The race had to be reduced from four hours to two hours and 45 minutes. When the engines did finally roar into life, Wittmann and his team-mates made it quite clear from the start that they would be a force to reckon with, qualifying fourth to secure a good starting position for the race.

A strong first stint saw Wittmann move to the front of the field, before handing the car over to Catsburg. The lead changed hands on numerous occasions before the race ultimately came down to a showdown on the final lap. Starting the last lap in second place, Wittmann’s team-mate Edwards reacted quicker after a Code 60 phase in the #99 BMW M6 GT3 than his rivals in the Porsche. Edwards was able to pull off the all-important overtaking manoeuvre and snatch victory. The celebrations were understandably wild at the end of a real thriller.

“My first race of the year and my first win. Let’s hope it continues this way,” said a delighted Wittmann.