From mechanic to race driver

With four in the cart, supported by Daddy, with 16 in the top-team of a junior class… The biographies of many top drivers confirm the rumour that this is the only way to success. This was not Marco Werner’s way – he started as a mechanic. On April 27th, 1966, Marco Werner was born in Dortmund. Obviously, the racing bacillus is in his genes. No wonder, his grandfather August was a successful motorcycle racer in the 30s and his father Heinz-Dieter Werner had his success in the saloon car in the 60s. As the boy was interested, he became an automobile mechanic. And as he was especially interested in race cars, he already had a job as a mechanic in the box of the Zakspeed team. This was where he got to know Klaus Niedzwiedz who became his fatherly friend. Klaus Niedzwiedz demonstrated very early and in an impressive manner how much he trusted Marco by the fact that he sent him to the Nürburgring in his private car and even bore the risk of sitting on the passenger seat. “Klaus proved to be a fair co-pilot” says Marco Werner and grins remembering this drive. “When the speed turned up, he had to make an urgent call after 3 laps…” mind you that Marco was just 14 years old. Test objects like the ‘Niedze’ car were of a great importance to the young talent, because pocket-money was never sufficient for driving cart. Marcos first racing experience was endurance championship race at the Nürburgring in 1984. The ink on his driver’s licence was not yet dry when he presented himself to the racing scene with his first victory. 1985 he tried his luck with a custom built in the Formula Ford 1600 and got to know that bad material follows the field. He was able to gain some respect with 2 victories and a few second and third places in the subordinated sprint cup, but in the German Championship he was not able to succeed due to the fact that he had to get along with a minimum of financial resources. “If the both ‘Klauses’ wouldn’t have upgraded my 500 DM apprentice’s pay with free tyres, not even the sporadic starts in the German Championship would have been possible” says Werner, still grateful about the support of the both ‘Klauses’ Niedzwiedz and Ludwig. It was only in 1987, when Marco Werner was equipped with better material, that respectable results were achieved. Straight off, he became third in the German Formula Ford Championship. The result was a recommendation to OPEL and the ex Formula 1 pilot Jochen Maas took the 22-year-old Werner into his OPEL Lotus Challenge team together with Heinz-Harald Frentzen. Werner responded with a fourth place in the final account of the German Championship. In his debut in the European Series in Spa, he set his OPEL Lotus to the Pole Position next to the later Formula 1 pilot Mika Häkkinen. Now, the former European saloon car champion Siggi Müller jr. also began to develop an interest in the career of the young Marco Werner. Müller jr. founded the GM Motorsport Team and engaged Marco Werner for the Season 1989 in the OPEL Lotus Challenge. Even though he didn’t start in all of the races, he became vice-champion in the end. For his good performance in the OPEL Lotus, the young driver was rewarded with two starts in the Formula 3 VW works team. Werner, who has the reputation to be unbeatable in rain at the Nürburgring, placed the Formula 3 in his first training on rank 3! In his second Formula 3 race he finished 5th. In 1990, he drove with GM Motorsport for the German Formula 3 Championship. Werner remained with the team which only enjoyed works support, although the former OPEL sports manager Karl Mauer had offered him a position in the official OPEL works team. Werner achieved some pole positions and good placements like a second rank in Zeltweg behind Michael Schumacher. Five early retirements in ten races detracted his achievements considerably, though. In the end, he finished 8th in the championship. In 1991, Werner got prepared for his second Formula 3 season in Siggi Müller jr.’s team, that meanwhile had become a works team, with a lot of fitness, squash, running and mountainbiking. A stay at Toni Mathis’ who also took care of drivers like Keke Rosberg and Nigel Mansell, helped him to build up a good condition. The sponsors OPEL, Escom Computers and Camel assembled a promising package. “It was great for me to be taken up in the cadre of drivers supported by the motor sports magazine ‘auto motor und sport’” says Werner and appreciates the additional motivation. His way of saying “thank-you”: the vice champion’s title in the Formula 3 in 1991. In the current season, Marco remained involuntarily with his team. Due to budget problems, the planned advancement into the Formula 3000 failed. For Werner, however, this was no reason to proceed his Formula 3 career with less effort. With seven victories, Werner proved his talent once more. After having gained the Formula 3 rain race at the Nürburgring spectacularly from the last start position and therefore entering Formula 3 history, he impressed international specialists with his triumph in the Formula 3 Grand Prix in Monaco in front of assembled prominent Formula 1 figures and for the second time he became Formula 3 vice champion. Resulting from his Monte Carlo victory, Werner also got first contacts to the Formula 1 teams Tyrrell and Minardi. Surprisingly, Giancarlo Minardi offered him a fixed place for the Formula 1 season 93. But just before Marco could sign, the sponsor’s contract, which had already been taken for granted, bounced and his Formula 1 hopes vanished. After his Formula 1 dream burst in 1993, Werner wanted to concentrate on saloon car class 2. The OPEL Dürkop project, however, turned out to be a nightmare for Marco. He succeeded in the endurance championship, where he could gain recommendations for higher tasks in the saloon cars with 5 top results and lap record. The Zakspeed Formula 3 team engaged him to proceed the development program. In Singen, the Linder BMW team entrusted him an M3. Without any previous test drives, Werner arrived 7th in the first free training, just before Klaus Ludwig and behind Larini, Nannini, Francia, Danner, Asch and Thiim – of course: in heavy rain. In the last DTM race in Hockenheim, he sat in the Kissling OPEL Omega for the first time and demonstrated his ability straight off with the first scoring of championship points. In the 24-hours at the Nürburgring, Marco showed a brilliant performance in his first Porsche race at night and in rain with the same lap times as experienced drivers such as Grohs, Konrad and the former rallye champion Walter Röhrl. This led his team to a good 3rd rank in the overall standings and to a victory in the GT class. As guest starter in the DTT, Werner got to know, that the experienced drivers did not believe that a newcomer was capable to reach a top rank: “If he arrives before me, I quit.” Werner answered with the best training time and a victory, leading by more than 10 seconds! The year 1994 is almost a reflection of 1993, although with more success. Werner succeeds once more in class 2. After a change to Lauderbach Motorsport, Werner shows an excellent performance despite his mini budget and achieves some top ten results against works drivers in the strong super saloon car field. And once more he astonishes the spectators at the 24-hours at the Nürburgring when he is up to 40 (!) seconds faster than the BMW works drivers Piquet and Winkelhock at night and in rain. All that in an OPEL Astra, group N! As of mid-season, Marco is also driving for the Zakspeed Formula 3 team, again. For Marco, the 1995 season starts with a bang. For the first time, without previous test drives, he sits in a world sports car and wins the 24-hours of Daytona, USA, on a Kremer Porsche K 8 together with veteran Jürgen Lässig, Formula 1 pilot Giovanni Lavaggi and sports car star Cristoph Bouschut. For the second time, after his Formula 3 triumph in Monaco, he wins one of the most important races in the world. With his second start in a Kremer Spider, Werner impresses his experienced competitors in the Inter Series on the Siegerland airfield track and wins his premiere in a 950 horsepower Kremer K7. The drivers in the Porsche Carrera Cup and in the Supercup get to know Marco Werner in a similar manner. He finishes his first Carrera race second behind Harald Grohs. In the Porsche Supercup, the international field even has to leave the victory to Marco Werner in the very first seasonal race in Imola. Marco managed to drive to the top in both series in his first Porsche year. Due to these successes, also the saloon car cup scene remembers the name Werner and gives him a chance in the Holzer BMW team in the last race at the Nürburgring. Marco wins the private drivers’ scoring in his first start and becomes 10th in overall standings. The Holzer BMW team wanted to continue Werner’s series of successes in the 1996 season and provided him with a new OPEL Vectra for the STW Cup. As a private driver, Marco did a good job and made the experienced saloon car stars look bad. Many works drivers had to watch the OPEL from behind in the course of the season. Werner rose from a 9th place in Assen and Hockenheim to a 7th place at the Sachsenring, 5th in Wunstorf and even up to a 3rd place in the sprint at the Berlin Avus. With these scores, he reached the 10th rank in the STW Cup. This should be sufficient to reach his aim: Marco signed a 2-year works contract with Honda for the STW Cup. At the Nürburgring, Werner’s favourite track, he achieved a victory in his class at the legendary 24-hours on the Nordschleife, in an OPEL Astra, group A up to 2 liters, together with Dirk Adorf and Thomas Winkelhock. After Marco had managed to start from the first row before all the international saloon car elite in his first start in the Honda Accord in Donington, England, in the end of 1996, he had high expectations towards 1997. In the beginning, his success seemed to continue when he started two times from the first row, next to the later champion Laurent Aiello. In the direct training duel with his team colleague Altfrid Heger, an experienced saloon car specialist, Marco succeeded 9 of 10 times. Highlight of the season was the Nürburgring. Rank 2 in the sprint behind Aiello and before Cecotto, rank 3 in the race. But after the disappointment of the deprivation of the 3rd place because of 100 grams underweight, everything seemed to go wrong and he suffered from 8 early retirements. Rank 19 in the standings was a bad disappointment for Marco. Remaining loyal with Honda, Marco refused an offer from OPEL to cancel the Honda contract before the end of the season and to get back with OPEL. His biggest frustration in the end of the year: Contract with Honda but no race starts. Because of the contract with Honda, Marco was not able to be active in motor sports in 1998. Honda entered no race car in the STW championship 1998, but nevertheless, they did not allow him to get out of the contract. Only when Marco gained a release in court, he was able to intrude on the Porsche Carrera Cup sporadically as of mid season. Seasons highlight was a 3rd place at the legendary Norisring. He also started two times in his favourite category, the sports cars. Together with Giovanni Lavaggi, with whom he had already won the 24-hours of Daytona in 1995, he achieved a good 4th place in a Ferrari 333SP, in Anderstorp, Sweden. He had a further start with Kremer Porsche at the Nürburgring. In 1999, his career seemed to be ending. Three endurance cup races, with three victories. Among these, also a 4-hour race at the Nordschleife, which he won all alone and the DTC Euro Final in Zandvoort. He didn’t start in the rest of the season’s races. In the year 2000, however, there was a new light at the end of the tunnel. The Infineon team signed a contract with Marco Werner and gave him the chance to start in the Porsche Pirelli Supercup. With two 5th places he had to admit, that the year-long experience is what counts in the Porsche Supercup. A highlight was the 24-hours of Spa in the Mühlner OPEL Astra with the fastest laps in the field. Unfortunately, a motor damage caused his early retirement and withheld him from ascending the victory rostrum. In Macau, he pushed the DTC aces in his OPEL. Unfortunately, also in this race a technichal defect did not permit the achievement of a good 3rd place. He then started with good motivation into the 2001 season in the Supercup, where he changed to the Farnbacher team with Infineon. The season turned out to be a good one. With two victories in Spa and at the A1 Ring, he leading in the Porsche Pirelli Supercup for a long time. In the end, he was 2nd in the standings of the fastest cup of the world. He also had one start in the FIA GT championship at the Nürburgring with his team colleague Philipp Peter. Once again, he clearly dominated the race in heavy rain. The duo won in its first start as a team. In two guest starts in the PCS enduring championship together with Infineon boss Dr. Ulrich Schumacher, Marco Werner achieved a supremely good victory in the overall placement and ranked 3rd in Mugello with Udo Schneider.

In 2002, he and Philipp Peter represented once again a top team in the Michelin Supercup. With 3 victories in Zeltweg, Budapest and Monza and a placement among the first three in Monaco, he counted again among the drivers fighting for the title in the Porsche Michelin Supercup. But due to two zero scores in Hockenheim and at the Nürburgring, it ended like in 2001 and Marco Werner became vice champion. The season’s highlight, however, was his work for the Audi works team, where he piloted a third Audi R 8 in Le Mans together with Philipp Peter and Michael Krumm. Already after the qualifying, Marco got the trophy for the fastest rookie. Archieving sensational times, the trio Krumm/Peter/Werner drove in its first Le Mans straight to the podium and became 3rd in the endurance classic. “Surely my greatest victory. Even if I have won Monaco and Daytona. But Le Mans has surpassed it all. It was gigantic” says Marco Werner.

Marco Audi Remained as a Factory Driver for the 2004 season, but switched from Team Joest, as Joest took over the Bentley factory Assignment, to Champion Racing and started again in the American Le Mans Series. He Managed the feat of being the first pilot in IMSA history to win a title twice in a row. This time with teammate JJ. Lehto as a partner, he won the ALMS title again and won the first title for Team Champion Racing.

Marco began the start of The 2005 season with a bang. With Tom Kristensen and JJ. He won the 12 hours of Sebring for the second time. And as if you can’t be happy with It as a racer, he won the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the first time in June. “This has been my most important And also the greatest success in my career so far. It’s unimaginable to win this race and then to win another two classics in a year is just mega, “Werner said proudly.

In 2006, To Marco Werner’s disappointment, Audi did not compete in the ALMS. The focus was on the development of the new Audi R10 with TDI engine. Marco took over much of the test drives. Audi competed at Sebring and Le Mans with the new R10 TDI and Marco was able to claim his second success at Le Mans and with the first diesel victory at Le Mans.

In 2007, Marco drove over the finish line in The famous 12 Hours race for the third time after 2003 and 2005 in the season opener in Sebring, driving his way slowly into the history books of the sports car scene. When he was able to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the third time, the success story was perfect. Marco became only the second german to win the three Sports Car Classics Daytona, Sebring and Le Mans. Only Hans Hermann had achieved this in the 70s before. But even with 3 victories at Le Mans, he now ranks as the leader of The sports car pilots.

Marco Werner finished His last Season in ALMS with another League Title in the USA and also drove himself to the History books to become the most successful Pilots in ALSM History. From 2003 to 2008 he achieved 25 Overall Victories in 54 Races, went 46 times to the Podium, scored 10 Pole Positions and drove ten times the fastest Lap. This puts him in Third place on the eternal Leaderboard when he has to leave the ALMS Stage.

Audi is retiring from the Series for 2009. Even today, he still holds the absolute Lap record in Mosport, one of the fastest Racetracks in the World, for Example. Legendary also his Qualirunde in St. Petersburg Florida as he drives the absolute Lap Record and baffles Motorsport. He drives faster than the Champ Car Formula Cars, which actually represents the Main Attraction on the Weekend.

After Audi’s Exit in the ALMS, there are only Assignments left in Sebring, Le Mans and Atlanta at the Petit Le Mans in 2009. However, the new Audi R15 presents itself as a little drivable for Marco Werner and does not achieve any great Successes in 2009. From 2010 Werner will then drive.

Starting in 2010, Werner will be running an R8 LMS for Audi in the GT3 CUSTOMER Sport Program at the Nürburgring. He returns to his Favourite Track and drives the 24 Hours at the Nürburgring As well as some VLN runs. At the 24 Hours, the Top Cast with the DTM Stars Ekström, Scheider and Sports Car star Marco Werner unfortunately remains unwinless. A Lap Record in Qualifying remains Wern’S only Piece of Sugar at the Nürburgring. At the end of 2015 Marco Werner Ended his Career as a Professional Racer, who had been signed As a Brand Ambassador to Audi since 2010, his Racing Career in modern Motorsport.

Since 2012, Marco has been seen increasingly at historic Race events at the Wheel Of a wide variety of Racing Cars. Here, too, he leaves behind his Business Card. He wins several Endurance Races. Highlight here: Winning the 2016 24 Hours Classic at Le Mans on a Porsche 936.2018, he is delighted to be a third Place finish at the Historic Grand Prix in Monaco. He moves a Ferrari.