BMW teams competing in the DTM championship had success at the Zandvoort circuit in Holland at the end of June and at the Norisring circuit in Germany on the weekend of July 7th-9th. It was a strong response after there were no BMWs on the podium in either race of the season-opening rounds at Oschersleben.
Defending champ Sheldon van der Linde was very competitive at Zandvoort. He put his Schubert Motorsport M4 GT3 second on the grid in qualifying behind Maro Engel in a Mercedes and was followed in third by Marco Wittmann in his Project 1 M4 GT3. Van der Linde ended up finishing the race in second behind Engel, while Wittmann ended up fifth. Dries Vanthoor, who was filling in for René Rast, finished ninth in his Schubert Motorsport M4 GT3.
Wittmann was the best BMW in both qualifying for race two at Zandvoort as well as the race, qualifying in seventh but moving up to fourth in the race. “It was a much better weekend for us compared to the season opener in Oschersleben; with fifth and fourth places, we got some good points,” said Wittmann. “Of course, as a new team, we need to continue working hard to be at the front and challenge for the podium. However, I believe that what we showed in the races as our battles demonstrated that we have found an extremely good balance and set-up for race pace which is very positive.” Sheldon van der Linde finished tenth, while Vanthoor finished in 25th after contact with another car resulted in a cut tire.
At the Norisring, Sheldon van der Linde put his BMW on the pole for race one and was followed closely by René Rast in fourth. He stayed at the front and won the race from pole, and was followed by Rast in second to make it a Schubert Motorsport 1-2. “It’s great to win for the first time at the Norisring, where I’ve never been on the podium,” said van der Linde after the race. “It’s just unbelievable that after the poor start at Oschersleben I’m now even the leader of the standings.” The victory was van der Linde’s fifth in DTM. Marco Wittmann finished ninth.
For race two at the Norisring, Rene Rast got his first pole with BMW in DTM and was followed in second by van der Linde. Marco Wittmann qualified sixth but was just three-tenths off the pole time of Rast. Rast stayed at the front for most of the race but was ultimately passed in an aggressive move by Porsche driver Thomas Preining. Preining ended up getting the win, with Rast in second and van der Linde in third. “It was a very good weekend for me personally and for the whole team,” said Rast. “If someone had offered me two second-places and a pole position beforehand, I would have signed immediately. However, on Sunday, I would have liked to win from pole position, but in the second half of the race, we simply didn’t have the necessary pace anymore. Ultimately, I think we extracted the maximum from this weekend.” Marco Wittmann finished in thirteenth.
Sheldon van der Linde was in second in the championship after the Norisring races behind Porsche driver Thomas Preining, while Schubert Motorsport was in second in the team championship. The DTM series will next race at the Nurburgring on the weekend of August 4th-6th.
[Photos courtesy Gruppe C Photography.]