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‘SUPER GT x DTM Dream Race’ part one: Kamui Kobayashi best-placed BMW driver at Fuji.

The first joint race of cars from the DTM and the SUPER GT Championship has taken place. On Saturday, BMW Team RBM contested the first of two ‘Super GT x DTM Dream Race’ events in front of the impressive backdrop of Mount Fuji. Local hero Kamui Kobayashi in 14th place at the wheel of the BMW M4 DTM was the best-placed BMW driver. Marco Wittmann (Schaeffler BMW M4 DTM) finished 18th, Alessandro Zanardi in the ZF BMW M4 DTM retired with a technical issue.

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Fuji International Speedway . The first joint race of cars from the DTM and the SUPER GT Championship has taken place. On Saturday, BMW Team RBM contested the first of two ‘Super GT x DTM Dream Race’ events in front of the impressive backdrop of Mount Fuji (JPN). Local hero Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) in 14th place at the wheel of the BMW M4 DTM was the best-placed BMW driver. Marco Wittmann (GER, Schaeffler BMW M4 DTM) finished 18th, Alessandro Zanardi (ITA) in the ZF BMW M4 DTM retired with a technical issue. Victory went to Nick Cassidy (NZL, Lexus).

 

Kobayashi made up numerous positions on the first lap and fought his way up into 12th. In his first race appearance at the wheel of the BMW M4 DTM, he was in 14th place when he ultimately saw the chequered flag. Wittmann pitted after the first lap to give him an advantage in the event of a safety car period. Shortly before the end of the race, the safety car did then come onto the track, but it was not possible for Wittmann to unlap himself after his second stop. He was thus unable to benefit from his fresh set of tyres.

 

Reactions after race one of the ‘SUPER GT x DTM Dream Race’ at Fuji.

 

Jens Marquardt (BMW Group Motorsport Director):

“After qualifying it was clear that it wasn’t going to be an easy race for us. We opted for an aggressive strategy with Marco Wittmann, which didn’t work out in the end. Kamui Kobayashi had a really strong first race at the wheel of a DTM car. We were unlucky with Alex Zanardi; an electrical issue forced him to retire from the race. The safety car brought the field closer together again slightly at the end, however, it was obvious that the Super GT cars were simply faster in the dry than we were. When the regulations for next year are finally merged, no doubt the racing will be even more exciting but we are really looking forward to the second race. It was fantastic to see the many fans here at the track. We are taking away some good insights for tomorrow and will really go for it.”

 

Bart Mampaey (Team Principal BMW Team RBM):

“We pitted early with Marco Wittmann, which would have paid off if he had been able to unlap himself and then do battle with fresh tyres in the pack. Unfortunately, that’s not what happened. We need to analyse the problem with Alex Zanardi’s car in detail but his race pace was impressive. Kamui Kobayashi’s race was characterised by tyre degradation. His opening lap was fantastic, and he moved up into 12th but then there was a great deal of tyre wear, which meant we had to bring him in early. Things were similar in the second stint. We learned a lot, and hopefully we will be able to build on this tomorrow.”

 

Kamui Kobayashi (#00 Puma BMW M4 DTM, BMW Team RMG, Grid: 18th, Race: 14th):

“The race was fun. It was my first race with BMW, running on Hankook tyres. I enjoyed it a lot and in the beginning I thought it could be quite a good race but the tyre drop was pretty massive, so we unfortunately lost some positions. That is what we need to improve for tomorrow. I am looking forward to tomorrow.”

 

Marco Wittmann (#11 Schaeffler BMW M4 DTM, BMW Team RMG, Grid: 19th, Race: 18th):

“So far this weekend, we haven’t quite had the pace in either the dry or the wet unfortunately. From 19th on the grid we had to take a bit of a gamble. Unfortunately, our strategy with the early stop didn’t pay off because the safety car came too late for that. The strategy would have worked if the safety car had come in during the early laps. The overall event has been a great experience so far; the Japanese fans are amazing. Now we are working hard to have more success on the sporting side tomorrow.”

 

Alessandro Zanardi: (#4 ZF BMW M4 DTM, BMW Team RMG, Grid: 22nd, Race: DNF):

“It was bad luck. Something didn’t work properly anymore and the engine changed noise, I lost some power, I reported that to the pit and we decided that it was safer to park the car for today. But I am very encouraged by the fact that my pace was not bad at all and for sure that makes me optimistic for tomorrow. Overall, I’m reallying enjoy the Japan experience; it’s a wonderful country and the fans are just fantastic. It’s incredible how great they are to me and I really hope I can make them proud tomorrow with a good performance because that is really the best thank you I can express from the bottom of my heart.”

 

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