When the DTM headed to the Red Bull Ring last season, there was the historic clean-sweep of the podium, as Bruno Spengler, current points leader Marco Wittmann and Timo Glock proudly stood on the podium, which was the first time this feat had been achieved since the Munich manfacturer’s return to the DTM the previous season.
Over the past thirty years of competition in the series itself, the feat last year was the eleventh time that BMW had swept the podium, as Wittmann looks to extend his lead in the race for the title this weekend.
The youngster, who showed great promise last year, will now come into this weekend with 7.5 kilos of success ballast added onto his M4 DTM, and currently sits 20 points ahead of Audi’s Mattias Ekström.
Wittmann also secured the fastest lap last year on his way to taking second place behind 2012 Champion Spengler, but the Team RMG driver is “optimistic” of securing another good result for the second straight year: “I’m really looking forward to Spielberg. The track is great, as is the landscape. It makes for a fantastic atmosphere. I achieved my best DTM result up to that point there last year, which is why I am really excited.”
Spengler himself, is hopeful of success in the new car, as he explains that Spielberg is clearly a driver’s favourite: “There are uphill and downhill sections and the track has a little bit of everything: long straights, hard braking zones, slow and fast corners. The final two corners are extremely demanding. The final corner, with a bump in the middle, is particularly fun.”
The fact that Maxime Martin is also one to watch was shown through his great work at Moscow Raceway last time out, as he was the first Belgian to win in the DTM, and is looking hungry for more champagne: “I’ve already raced in Spielberg and tested there last year in the BMW M3 DTM. The landscape there is just fantastic, and the track is interesting. That’s why I’m looking forward to the weekend. The track is really fast and demanding for us drivers. I like it. I’m already excited to see what we will be able to achieve there.”
Augusto Farfus is one of the drivers that is looking forward to pushing hard around the 4.326km track, where 44,000 spectators saw the drama unfold in the pleasant Austrian countryside: “It’s one of the most beautiful backdrops in the DTM. The track itself has extremely fast bends, which should suit our car. I like this type of corners. It’s very important to have a car with a good high-speed balance, but that can also decelerate well. Last year we qualified well and had a good race. I hope that we can repeat that.”
Glock, who has raced there in other series in years past, is looking forward to continuing a run of success in the DTM, as his podium stared off a great run which culminate din his win at the series finale at Hockenheim: “I hope that we will be just as strong again this year. It’s a very fluid track with many fast corners. But there is also a long straight. We should be well positioned once again.”
But one of the factors that could play its part is the success ballast that may now come into play as the season reaches its conclusion, with Wittmann, Farfus and Spengler having at least 5kgs added to their cars for the coming race weekend. But don’t count out the likes of other BMW drivers like Joey Hand, Martin Tomczyk or Antonio Felix da Costa, who will also look to push hard at Spielberg.
That hasn’t escaped the vigilant eyes of BMW’s Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt, who said that the team will “give it our all to stay on track.” The former Toyota F1 team principal, who took over from Dr. Mario Thiessen before the return to the DTM got underway over two seasons ago, said that BMW are looking forward to more success: “The first half of the 2014 DTM season is over and things couldn’t have gone much better for BMW Motorsport, with three victories in five races. The BMW M4 DTM got off to a dream start: From the word go our new challenger was victorious as it crossed the finish line with Marco Wittmann at the wheel in Hockenheim. We have been strong in the first half of the season. But for now we are looking forward to the next race in Spielberg. It won’t be easy for us.”
Can BMW continue its run of form with the new M4 DTM, that has taken three of the five wins so far, but will Audi or Mercedes be able to have their say in the matter?