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Refuelling issue cost BMW's Wittmann Oschersleben DTM victory

A refuelling error is understood to have cost BMW driver Marco Wittmann a near-certain victory in the DTM race at Oschersleben, but the exact cause of the problem is yet to be determined.

Marco Wittmann, Schubert Motorsport BMW M4 GT3 nach dem Ausfall

Photo by: Alexander Trienitz

Wittmann was leading Saturday’s opening race of 2024 when his Schubert Motorsport-entered BMW M4 GT3 suddenly began to slow down with four laps to go, before coming to a halt at the start/finish straight.

The two-time DTM champion had tactically made his pitstop moments before the Full Course Yellow was deployed to assist the recovery of Ben Dorr’s stranded McLaren, which allowed him to jump from outside the top 10 into the lead of the race.

In the closing stages, the German was successfully keeping the Emil Frey Ferrari of Jack Aitken at bay, but was cruelly denied a first DTM win since the 2022 finale at Hockenheim when his BMW rapidly lost power in the run-up to the chicane.

"We analysed the situation and determined that it was a mistake when refueling. We are of course very annoyed, but that's how it is now,” Bjorn Lellmann, Head of BMW M Customer Racing, explained.

"We must also not forget that Sheldon van der Linde came fourth and Rene Rast came seventh. Accordingly, we scored important points. As we always say: we win together and lose together."

The BMW stopped on track because no more petrol was flowing inside the combustion chamber. There are two possibilities that led to this scenario: either there was a technical failure/leak somewhere or the team simply failed to put enough fuel in his car to make it to the finish.

"If you have misfires and too little fuel pressure and the engine stalls, then it could be [that there was too little fuel in the tank],” said Wittmann.

“But it could also be the pump, it could be the [fuel] line. We have to analyse that. In any case, it was decisive for the race, which is of course bitter.”

Schubert Motorsport is one of the top teams in the DTM and is now BMW’s only representative on the 2024 grid following the demise of Project 1.

Asked to explain the problem, team chief Torsten Schubert told German broadcaster Ran: "We have to see whether a pump has failed or whether it was a mistake by the team. I can't explain it at the moment. 

“The amount of petrol was predetermined, as was the case with the others, and we also had a safety car phase. So it could hardly have been too little.

"If we have made a mistake, then I can understand that, then that is our issue. But I don't think we made a mistake. I hope that the technology somehow got in the way.

"Otherwise, if we made the mistake, then we have to answer for it and that would be the biggest disappointment I have today. 

“We have to take responsibility for that and see how we deal with it. But first we have to analyse whether we made the mistake or whether something else went wrong."

Wittmann has been going through a rough patch in the DTM in the last few years, largely due to his previous teams not having the resources to complete as much testing as its rivals.

This year, BMW placed the 18-time race winner in an expanded three-car Schubert team, giving him full parity with fellow factory drivers Rast and van der Linde.

Wittmann seemed visibly furious after returning to the paddock following his DNF, but had regained his composure by the time he spoke to the media.

"That's a shitty feeling,” he said. “We had misfires, so I lost two or three positions at first. Then the cars came from behind in the last sector and I rolled out at the start/finish.

“We still have to see what the problem was. But to let victory slip from your grasp a few laps before the end, that's annoying. I'm totally disappointed. It's brutal for the team."

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