MIL OSI Translation. Region: Germany / Deutschland –
Source: BMW Group Munich. At the 2020 DTM season finale last weekend in Hockenheim (GER), BMW Motorsport contested the last races of a unique and multi-year era. In 2012 BMW returned to the DTM as a factory, with the realignment of the platform, this factory involvement is now ending. Reason enough to look back on the greatest successes, highlights and emotions of the past nine years.
The “old DTM” was already closely associated with BMW. It all began in 1984 in the very first DTM race with Harald Grohs (GER) winning in a BMW 635 CSi in Zolder, Belgium. In the 1980s and at the beginning of the 1990s, BMW was factory involved in the DTM and during this time clinched the drivers’ title three times with Volker Strycek (GER), Eric van de Poele (BEL) and Roberto Ravaglia (ITA). In addition, BMW won the manufacturers’ championship seven times in a row from 1984 to 1990. The BMW M3 became the most successful touring car of all time to date.
BMW followed up on this era in 2012 and returned to the DTM as a factory. The statistics for the past nine years: 140 races, 40 wins, 124 podium positions, three more drivers ‘titles and three more manufacturers’ titles. But the memories behind them are far more important than bare numbers. That is why previous and current BMW DTM drivers look back on their most emotional moments in the series.
The first test drives: When it all began. The BMW drivers experienced emotional moments long before the start of the 2012 season. “Of course there were many special moments, but the first test was definitely one of them. I was the main test driver and helped prepare for DTM entry, ”remembers Augusto Farfus (BRA), who competed in the DTM with BMW from 2012 to 2018. Farfus also associates these first test drives with emotional memories for very personal reasons, because his daughter was born in Brazil at exactly the time he was working with BMW on the BMW M3 DTM in Europe. “That was a very important time in my life,” he emphasizes.
Bruno Spengler (CAN) can still remember the winter 2011/12 well. “My very first DTM test with BMW was definitely a highlight for me,” he confirms. “It was very exciting to sit in a BMW DTM car for the first time. The entire development phase was a great time, in which we all did great teamwork to develop a winning car. “
2012: Triple title in the comeback year. A winning car – that really was the BMW M3 DTM. The 2012 comeback season turned into a sensational year with the title triple. Spengler became driver champion, his BMW Team Schnitzer won the team title and BMW secured the manufacturers’ championship. It is clear that Spengler has many memories of this special year.
“On the one hand there is the memory of the Lausitzring, where we won the first victory for BMW after the comeback, together with BMW Team Schnitzer. It was a great team that made me feel like family. This first BMW victory was very, very emotional and special for me, ”says Spengler. Farfus was on the podium at that time, who also counts this day to be one of his best moments: “Bruno’s victory and my third place on the podium was an important milestone for BMW and for myself.” A little later, Farfus himself rose to the top step of the Podium. In Valencia (ESP) he not only clinched his first DTM victory, but also pole position and the fastest race lap: “I think it was something pretty unique at that time for a rookie to come into the series, competitive from the start and is so successful in the first year. “
The big highlight of 2012 followed: Spengler’s victory at the finals in Hockenheim (GER) and the associated championship title for him, his team and BMW. The Canadian still gets goose bumps today when he thinks about it: “I had to win the race to win the championship. The fact that we then secured all three titles was a very emotional moment. I remember when I drove to the Parc Fermé and all the mechanics, all the engineers who worked so hard, greeted me with jubilation. That was very special and special. “
Spengler’s team-mate at the time was Martin Tomczyk (GER), who also remembers 2012 as “one of the best years”: “On the one hand, because Bruno, with whom I had fought for the championship the previous year, was now my team-mate. We were both in a promising position – for me it was about defending my title and for him it was about winning his first title. “But instead of rivalry, there was team spirit:” We valued and respected each other, and together we actively supported BMW in doing so. to find my way into the DTM era so well. It was a very formative year for me, and of course a successful year for BMW. In general, the team spirit that we have within BMW is outstanding. And that was and is not only the case in the DTM, but this solidarity runs through the entire BMW Motorsport family and all BMW activities. “
From best rookie to two-time champion: Marco Wittmann (GER) made his DTM debut in 2013. And the young Franconian showed right away that he should be on the bill. He took his first pole position, his first podium and finished the season as the best rookie. In the following season of 2014, the BMW M3 DTM was replaced by the BMW M4 DTM, and Wittmann really took off. At the start in Hockenheim, he took his first DTM victory and the first victory for the then new car. Further triumphs followed, and at the Lausitzring (GER) he secured his first DTM championship title early in the eighth of ten races of the season.
“The first title win in 2014 was of course the ultimate highlight. It was extremely emotional and the greatest success of my motorsport career to date, ”says Wittmann. Two years later, in 2016, he was crowned DTM champion for the second time: “This title was much more difficult to win than the 2014 one, because the championship decision was only made in the last race. But we still had a really good season. We didn’t make a single mistake, either on the team side or on my side, and that ultimately earned us the title. It’s extremely difficult to have a full season without mistakes. And to become a champion for the second time was of course also a confirmation that the first time was not a one-off. That was something very special to you and very emotional. “
But these two titles are even topped in Wittmann’s personal highlight list. “There is one more moment that I would actually rate even higher emotionally: winning my home race in 2018 at the Norisring,” said Wittmann. “It was just such a special feeling to win my home race in front of a home crowd, then run onto the start and finish straight and cheer and celebrate with the many fans, family and friends after the victory. It was also a very special moment to be on the podium. That is something I will never forget in my life. “
Keyword Norisring: Spengler also associates a special and very important moment with the narrow street circuit: “That was in 2019 when I celebrated my fifth victory on this racetrack. That made me the sole record winner in the DTM at the Norisring, and that was also very special and emotional. “
Hockenheim 2018: The goosebumps duel. A race that will have made its way into the history books of motorsport for all eternity was the Sunday race at the 2018 season opener in Hockenheim. The duel between Timo Glock (GER) and Gary Paffett (GBR) is still known today as the “goose bumps duel” and is not missing in any review of the history of the DTM. The duel between Glock in the BMW M4 DTM and the Mercedes driver went over eleven nerve-wracking laps or 50 kilometers, with the lead changing six times between the two. Taken together, Glock and Paffet rode side by side for 119 seconds, which corresponds to a distance of approx. 6 kilometers – and that at a top speed of 271 km / h. With five minutes to go, Glock finally won the duel, and he could not be missed.
So it comes as no surprise that Glock describes this duel as “by far the absolute best moment” of his DTM career. He still describes it today with great emotion: “It was an absolute driving highlight for me, where I was more than under constant current for 20 minutes. As a DTM driver you always have a high level of adrenaline in you, but I think these 20 minutes blew everything up. That was very, very intense. It’s just great as a racing driver to play against someone who is on an equal footing. You feel as if two knights are facing each other who fight each other with a sword, but each one lets the other live. “
That was one of the special things about this duel: That it was always fair with every paint replacement. “Of course, in certain moments when you touched, there was a bit of aggression, and I thought to myself, ‘Hey, he’ll drive me in my car, what’s that?’ But in the same breath I knew that I’d done the same thing have. There were so many emotional factors that came together and made it so special. We have all competed in races in which we might have fought such fights for tenth place, but not for victory. Winning the thing in the end was an absolute highlight for me, and I like to look back on it. “
The class 1 turbo era and dreams of the first victory come true. European Championship made history. The BMW M4 DTM with a turbo engine has now entered the DTM, and Wittmann secured the first pole position and the first victory for the new racing car right at the start in Hockenheim.
At the second race weekend of the season in Zolder (BEL), another BMW driver won Saturday’s race: Philipp Eng (AUT). The Austrian, who became a works driver in 2016, had previously celebrated victories with BMW in the 24-hour races of Spa-Francorchamps (BEL) and Daytona (USA) – now he was at the top of the DTM in his second DTM season -Podium. “When I crossed the finish line, I just screamed,” recalls Eng. “A great burden has fallen off me. I’ve been wishing for a DTM victory since I started racing. And personally, a huge stone was taken from my heart. Not because I was under pressure from anyone or anything, but because I just wanted it extremely. One thing is clear: I will never forget my first DTM victory in my life. “
One year later, in 2020, his young team-mate Sheldon van der Linde (RSA) did the same: The 21-year-old celebrated his first DTM victory in Assen (NED), and that from last place on the grid. For van der Linde the undisputed highlight of his career so far: “I will never forget that. There were so many emotions when I got out of the car. Mainly because I started at the very back – a win was the last thing you could expect. But that day everything went exactly as we needed it. I am proud that I am now a DTM winner. When I got into the DTM, my two main goals were to finish on the podium and win races, and I’ve managed to do both this season. I think that under the circumstances that we had this year, also because of our lag behind Audi, this was a very special success and I will always be very proud of it. “
Van der Linde is also proud that he was part of the Class 1 era in the DTM. Like many of his BMW DTM colleagues, he says: “These cars are just so impressive to drive and pushing them to the limit at full throttle is really something unique. There won’t be much that will come close. I will miss my BMW M4 DTM very much. “
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and / or sentence structure not be perfect.