Marco Werner is a German racing driver who achieved his best results in the endurance racing, winning the Triple Crown of endurance racing (24 hours of Le Mans, 24 hours of Daytona, 12 hours of Sebring). He won at Le Mans three times (2005-2007), did the same in Sebring (2003, 2005, 2007), and only held the trophy once at Daytona (1995).
Racing genes from grandfather and father
Marco was born on April 27th, 1966, in Dortmund. We could say that the racing was in his genes. His grandfather August was a successful motorcycle racer in the 1930s and his father Heinz-Dieter had a successful career in the saloon car racing during 1960s.
Teenager Marco became a mechanic, with a focus on race cars, and he worked in the garage of the Zakspeed team. The famous racer Klaus Niedzwiedz became Marco's mentor and he gave an opportunity to 14-year-old boy to taste his first racing experience at Nürburgring in his private car, expanding his passion for racing even more.
Racing debut with Formula Ford
Marco's first official racing experience was the endurance championship race Nürburgring in 1984. In 1985, he tried his luck with a custom built Formula Ford 1600 car. He scored some victories and podiums in the subordinated sprint cup, but the lack of financial resources prevented the success in the German championship.
In 1987, he finally got a proper car and the improvement was visible. He finished third in the final classification, and repeated the success following year in the German Formula Opel Lotus Challenge series, driving for Jochen Mass Junior Team. The champion was his teammate Heinz-Harald Frentzen.
Formula Opel Lotus vice-champion in 1989
The former European saloon car champion Siggi Müller jr. founded the GM Motorsport Team and hired Marco Werner for the 1989 season, in the Opel Lotus Challenge. Even though he didn't start in all the races, Werner became the vice-champion in the end, behind Jörg Müller. Werner was rewarded with two starts in the 1989 German Formula 3 championship for the Volkswagen factory team.
In 1990, he entered the German Formula 3 championship with GM Motorsport, after refusing to move to the Opel's official factory team. His best result was second place in Zeltweg behind Michael Schumacher, but five retirements in ten races ruined his chances and he finished 8th in the final standings.
One more Formula 3 season with Siggi Müller and GM Motorsport followed in 1991, and this time, he was much more successful. With one victory and six podiums he was the vice-champion, behind Tom Kristensen.
Historic victory at Formula 3 Monaco Grand Prix
Due to budget problems, the planned promotion to the Formula 3000 failed, so Marco spent one more season in the Formula 3. He was again the vice-champion, with seven wins in 26 races, behind Pedro Lamy. He impressed motorsports fans two times that year - a victory at rainy Nürburgring, when he started from the last position and eventually won the race, and with his fantastic triumph at the 1992 Formula 3 Monaco Grand Prix.
Monaco victory drew attention to him, and this led to talks with some Formula One teams, such was Tyrrell and Minardi. Giancarlo Minardi offered him a place in the team for the 1993 F1 season, but Marco didn't secure a sponsorship agreement and the graduation to Formula One failed.
DTM debut in 1993
Parallel to Formula 3 races with Zakspeed, Marco was occupied with touring cars and he entered DTM with the Opel Dürkop team. However, his competition with Opel Astra turned out to be a nightmare. He gained some success in the endurance championship and gets the recommendations for better teams and cars. In the last DTM race at Hockenheim, he was driving Kissling Motorsport Opel Omega 3000 and he scored his first championship point.
In his first 24-hour of Nürburgring race, Werner showed a brilliant performance in his first Porsche race and contributed to third place overall and a class victory.
Impressive performance at Nordschleife
In 1994, Marco continued to race with Zakspeed in the Formula 3 and moved to Lauderbach Motorsport in touring car races. He competed with Opel Astra GSi and scored mediocre results, but impressed everybody at Nürburgring 24-hour race. During night hours, driving in the rain, his Group N Astra was 40 seconds faster than some BMW works drivers.
Daytona 24h victory with Kremer Porsche K8
Marco had a fantastic season opening in 1995. He travelled to the United States and for the first time, he participated in the 24 hours of Daytona. His debut at one of the most famous world's races was victorious. He was sharing the Kremer Porsche K8 with Jürgen Lässig, Giovanni Lavaggi, and Christoph Bouchut.
Later that year, he scored one more victory with Kremer K7 in the Interseries race at Siegerland airfield track. During the year he competed in the Porsche Carrera Cup Germany and Porsche Supercup, finishing 4th and 5th at the end of the season. He won one Supercup race at Imola as well.
Touring car races with Vectra and Accord
Team Holzer secured him a seat in the Opel Vectra for the 1996 German Supertouring Championship. His best result was third place in the sprint race at AVUS and he finished 10th in the championship. After one more success at Nürburgring, where he took a class victory in the 24-hour race with Opel Astra, Marco signed a two-year contract with Honda.
He competed with Honda Accord in the 1997 German Supertouring Championship. The highlight of the season was the race at Nürburgring, where he finished third but was later penalized and deprived of the podium. After eight retirements he finished only 19th in the final standings.
Contract with Honda caused big troubles for Marco
Although he was disappointed, Werner had no option to leave Honda because of the contract. Honda withdrew from the 1998 championship and he was the driver with a contract but without races. Only after the court released him from the contract, Werner continued to race. He was a guest driver in the Porsche Carrera Cup Germany and competed in two endurance races driving prototypes, at Anderstorp with Ferrari 333SP and at Nürburgring with Kremer Porsche K8.
In 1999, Marco had no full-season agreement and he competed only in some endurance races. In 2000, the situation changed when he signed a contract with the Infineon team and competed in the Porsche Pirelli Supercup. He also participated at 24 hours of Spa with Mühlner Motorsport's Opel Astra, setting the fastest laps, but he retired because of engine failure.
Porsche Supercup vice-champion in 2001
In 2001, Werner moved to the Farnbacher team and became the vice-champion in the Porsche Pirelli Supercup, behind Jörg Bergmeister. Werner scored two wins at Spa and A1 Ring. He also had one start in the FIA GT championship at the Nürburgring with his team colleague Philipp Peter. They won in the race affected by heavy rain.
In 2002, Marco Werner was again the title contender in the Porsche Michelin Supercup. He won three out of eleven races but lost the title to Stephane Ortelli. The highlight of the year was his first 24-hour race at Le Mans. He was driving Audi R8 of Audi Sport Team Joest together with Philipp Peter and Michael Krumm. They finished third, behind two other factory-entered Audis.
Marco's best years with Audi
Since then, Marco Werner became Audi's driver and achieved his biggest successes with 'four rings'. In his first season with Audi, he became the 2003 American Le Mans champion, winning five out of nine races, including his maiden win at Sebring. His co-drivers were Frank Biela and Philipp Peter.
First Le Mans victory to take a Triple Crown
ADT Champion Racing was Werner's team in 2004 and he again won the American Le Mans Series title, even with a better score than previous year – he won six of nine races. At Le Mans, he was sharing Audi R8 with JJ Lehto and Emanuele Pirro and together they achieved the third place overall.
In 2005, Werner lost the ALMS title but won at Le Mans. The winning combination was Werner/Lehto/Kristensen. Tom Kristensen scored his record-breaking seventh victory at Le Mans while Werner reached the Triple Crown of endurance racing (Le Mans, Daytona, Sebring).
New car and new co-drivers for second the Le Mans victory
With the new car (Audi R10 TDI) and new driver combination, sharing the car with Emanuele Pirro and Frank Biela, Werner scored back-to-back Le Mans victory in 2006. Third Le Mans victory in a row followed in 2007, again with Werner/Pirro/Biela combination in the R10 TDI car.
It was the first year with different diesel cars on the grid, as Peugeot introduced 908 HDi. Peugeot even took the pole position, but the #1 Audi R10 TDI of Werner, Pirro and Biela won the race with the amazing 10 laps advantage.
Third triumph at Sebring in 2007
In 2007, Werner again spent a whole season in the American Le Mans Series and finished second, behind teammates Rinaldo Capello and Allan Mc Nish. Werner won three races, including his third triumph at Sebring.
That year also marked his only attempt in DTM. He was replacing Alexandre Premat in the Phoenix Racing's Audi A4 at the second round of the championship in Oschersleben and he finished 15th.
Third and last ALMS title in 2008
The season 2008 was again victorious, but this time, it was the American Le Mans Series. Werner took his third ALMS title together with teammate Lucas Luhr. Werner won eight of eleven races, Sebring excluded. He finished sixth at 2008 Le Mans race, again alongside Pirro and Biela.
The 2008 ALMS title proved to be the last in Marco Werner's career. Since then, he competed in various series but without notable results. In the 2009 ALMS season, he competed in just two races, including Sebring, with third place in his last race there.
Last Le Mans attempt in 2010
Werner's last race with Audi at Le Mans, in 2009, driving new R15 TDI, ended with retirement after 104 laps. His co-drivers were Lucas Luhr and Mike Rockenfeller. The last Le Mans participation followed in 2010, where he raced with Highcroft's HPD ARX-01C prototype in LMP2 class, alongside David Brabham and Marino Franchitti. They qualified 2nd in class but finished 25th overall and 9th in class.
One of the best Nürburgring Nordschleife specialists
During 2010 Werner also competed as a guest driver in the Volkswagen Scirocco R Cup, took second place in the Malaysia Merdeka Endurance race with Audi R8 LMS and won with Level 5 Motorsports in the LMPC class at Road Atlanta.
In 2011, he competed in two endurance races with Audi R8 LMS, taking again second place in Malaysia and third place at 24 hours of Nürburgring. Since then he regularly competed at his beloved track, the Nürburgring Nordschleife, in the annual 24-hour race or in the VLN Endurance series.
Video : Marco Werner's lap around Nordschleife