Marco Wittmann wins at BMW Festival, anger over BoP increases

BMW dominates in Zandvoort: Marco Wittmann won the second DTM race this weekend in Zandvoort. The Schubert-BMW driver beat Mirko Bortolotti in the SSR-Lamborghini after starting from 14th place. Kelvin van der Linde (Abt-Audi) completed the podium after starting from sixth position.

For two-time DTM champion Wittmann, it is the 19th victory in his 184th start in the traditional series and the first in 2024 after he dramatically missed the opening victory in Oschersleben. The reigning DTM runner-up Bortolotti is on a DTM podium for the 13th time, while for the still championship leader van der Linde it is the eleventh podium success in the DTM.

Wittmann wins with overcut strategy

Wittmann had already worked his way up five positions at the start with another extremely strong BMW M4 GT3. Wittmann then waited the longest of all drivers for his mandatory pit stop and used the clear road to catch up. After his pit stop, Wittmann remained in the lead and, on cold tires, fought a thrilling battle against Bortolotti, who had taken the lead at the start.

But Wittmann defended himself hard against the Lamborghini factory driver in a duel marked by several contacts and kept the lead. Bortolotti complained several times on the radio about Wittmann’s tackling tactics, but it was Bortolotti and not Wittmann who received a warning from the race director for pushing another car off the track.

BMW ploughs through the field in Zandvoort

After Wittmann’s tires reached working temperature, the 34-year-old increasingly pulled away from Bortolotti in the final sprint and crossed the finish line 7.239 seconds ahead of the Italian. Bortolotti, on the other hand, had to look further back and complained about problems on the radio. However, he saved P2 ahead of Kelvin van der Linde and local hero Thierry Vermeulen (Emil Frey Ferrari), who finished fourth.

Wittmann wasn’t the only one to show a strong performance in the Schubert BMW. His two teammates Rene Rast and Sheldon van der Linde also ploughed through the field, especially in the early stages. Rast finished eighth after starting from last place, while van der Linde worked his way up from 17th place to P10.

Anger over balance of performance is increasing

The dominant BMW performance is likely to fuel the increasingly burgeoning discussions about the balance of performance. After a weak qualifying on Friday, BMW received more boost overnight into Saturday and had already ploughed through the field in Saturday’s race.

During the race, both Maro Engel (Winward-Mercedes) and defending champion Thomas Preining, who duelled with the BMWs in the race, complained. “Once again, a great job with the BoP, the BMWs have 1,000 hp more than the rest of the field,” complained Engel on the radio. Preining added shortly before the end: “I’m giving it everything I can. But this damn BoP is a disaster.”

Although there were further changes to the BoP overnight, the BMW M4 GT3s retained their additional boost. The Porsche vehicles, on the other hand, were able to unload 10 kilograms, while the two Emil Frey Ferraris had to add 10 kilograms. The two McLaren 720S GT3 Evos from Dörr Motorsport even had to weigh 20 kilograms more.

The demands of Abt-Audi for an adjustment of the classification of the Audi R8 LMS GT3 evo 2 were not heard. After the Saturday race, Abt Motorsport Director Martin Tomczyk complained loudly. You can read all the details in this article:

Grasser-Lamborghini with lettering for injured mechanic

Behind Vermeulen, Luca Stolz (HRT-Mercedes) completed the top five. Behind the 28-year-old, his teammate Arjun Maini crossed the finish line. The two Schubert BMWs of Rast and van der Linde were followed by pole-setter Maximilian Paul (Paul-Lamborghini) in P9. Paul was in P2 until the pit stop phase, but lost between two and three seconds in the pits and fell back to sixth place, until he lost three more positions in just one lap on the penultimate lap.

The reigning DTM champion Thomas Preining rounded off the top 10. He was followed by Ricardo Feller (Abt-Audi) and Luca Engstler (Grasser-Lamborghini). On the side of Engstler’s Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo 2 this Sunday, a sign reading ‘Get well soon, Noah’ was installed. This refers to an incident in the Grasser pit during Saturday’s race in which a mechanic was seriously injured.

Pit stop problems for Thiim and Saturday winner Aitken

Engel, who lost four positions in the last two laps, Nicki Thiim in the second SSR Lamborghini and Ben Dörr (Dörr-McLaren) completed the points positions. Thiim suffered from further pit stop problems at SSR Performance in the race, which dropped him from P14 to 16th place.

Saturday’s winner Jack Aitken (Emil Frey Ferrari) also had a bitter race. The Briton had been in fifth place until the pit stop phase. But during his mandatory pit stop, Aitken turned into the pits of HRT Mercedes, who were waiting for Luca Stolz to make his pit stop. Aitken cleared the pits, but blocked Stolz for a short time. As a result of this action, Aitken lost several positions in the pits and, to make matters worse, was given three penalty laps by the race management, which dropped him to last place.

Start-up accident triggers red flag

The second DTM race in Zandvoort was interrupted by a red flag and a safety car phase. The racing action was over immediately after the start. Between turns 4 and 5, Maro Engel (Winward–Mercedes) collided with Dörr-McLaren driver Clemens Schmid. Schmid came onto the grass, hit the guardrail slightly and spun back onto the track. The Austrian was hit by Rene Rast in the Schubert-BMW. Rast was able to continue driving with damage, but the race was over for Schmid. The same applied to Lucas Auer in the second Winward-Mercedes, who suffered a puncture between turns 4 and 5 and spun.

In the chaos, there were also a few other collisions. Among others, Sheldon van der Linde (Schubert-BMW) drove into Nicki Thiim in the SSR Lamborghini. The race management initially called a safety car phase, but shortly afterwards stopped the race completely with a red flag. The race was able to resume around 15 minutes later.

DTM overall standings 2024: Van der Linde extends lead

Ayhancan Güven (Manthey-Porsche) caused a second race interruption. After about eleven laps, the Turk complained of a possible flat tire on the right rear tire. Nevertheless, Güven initially stayed out, but shortly afterwards it happened. In the steep curve 3, Güven suffered a puncture and spun into the guard rails. The incident triggered a safety car phase.

Christian Engelhart (Grasser-Lamborghini) was also unable to finish the race after he suddenly slowed down after the second restart and parked his car after one lap on fresh tires.

In the championship, Kelvin van der Linde remains the championship leader with 82 points after his podium success. Mirko Bortolotti is now in second place, eight points behind. Van der Linde’s Abt Audi team-mate Ricardo Feller is in third place with 66 points.

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