Markus Palttala is a Finnish racing driver who is active since 1998. He spent the most of his career in the sports car racing, gaining notable success in different competitions (French GT Championship, Blancpain GT Series) or endurance races (24h Nurburgring, 24h Spa, 24h Zolder). In 2016, he was Endurance champion in the Renault Sport Trophy. Currently, he drives BMW M6 GT3 for Rowe Racing in the Blancpain GT Series.
Starting a career in the Finnish Touring Car Championship
Markus Palttala was born on August 16, 1977, in Nakkila, Finland. He spent six seasons in the go-kart competitions before debuting in the 1998 Finnish Touring Car Championship. He was driving Honda Integra Type-R, scoring one victory and finishing fifth in the final standings. Next year, with the same car, Markus was again fifth in the points, scoring one victory in ten races. In 1999, he also participated in German Dunlop Tourenwagen Light Cup, scoring four podiums with Honda Integra.
2000 - unsuccessful debut at Spa 24 Hours
In 2000, Palttala's main competition was the Porsche Carrera Cup Germany but without notable results. He also recorded few starts in the German Touring Car Challenge with Honda Integra Type-R. In August 2000, Palttala debuted at Spa 24 Hours. He was driving a Honda Integra Type-R for PSI Motorsport, not finishing the race.
Next year, he returned to Spa in PSI Motorsport's Porsche 996 GT3-R, finishing 10th overall. In 2001, he also participated in the European Superproduction Championship with GDL Racing's Honda Integra.
FIA GT Championship debut in 2002
In 2002, still driving for PSI Motorsport, Markus debuted in the FIA GT Championship. He was driving the #25 Porsche 996 Bi-Turbo, sharing a car with Kurt Mollekens. In August, at Spa 24 Hours, he recorded one more retirement.
In 2003, Palttala spent a full season with PSI's Porsche in the French GT Championship, finishing ninth in the points with one victory. In 2004 and 2005, he was driving PSI's Porsche mostly in Belcar races.
Le Mans Series debut in 2005
In 2005, Palttala entered Le Mans Series for the first time and it became his main sports car competition in the following years. In 2005, driving a Porsche 996 GT3 RSR for Ice Pol Racing Team, he finished fourth in the final GT2 classification.
In 2006, he was driving Chevrolet Corvette C6.R Z06 for PSI Experience in the Le Mans Series, finishing 7th in the final standings of the GT1 class. He was successful with Corvette in the 2006 French GT Championship, finishing second in the points together with Pertti Kuismanen.
Podium at 2008 Zolder 24 Hours
After just three races with three different teams/cars in 2007, Porsche was again his main racing machine in 2008, both in the Le Mans Series (for James Watt Automotive) and FIA GT Championship (for ProSpeed Competition). His most notable result during a season was third place at 24 hours of Zolder, where he was driving Porsche 996 GT3 RS for MPM Racing by Verbist.
In 2009, Palttala contested in a variety of championships with different cars. He was most successful in the Finnish GT Championship, where he scored two wins with Porsche 997 GT3 Cup.
Daytona and Le Mans debut in 2010
In January 2010, Palttala debuted at Daytona 24 Hours, driving a Porsche 997 GT3 Cup for Matt Connolly Motorsports. He failed to finish the race.
In 2010, Palttala also debuted at 24 Hours of Le Mans, where he was driving the #70 Ford GT for Marc VDS Racing Team, together with Bas Leinders and Eric de Doncker. They retired after just 26 laps due to an accident.
FIA GT1 and FIA GT3 contestant in 2010 and 2011
In 2010 and 2011, Palttala spent a full season in two competitions – the FIA GT1 World Championship with Marc VDS Racing's Ford and the FIA GT3 European Championship with Prospeed's Porsche 911 GT3 R. He was more successful with Porsche, scoring one podium to finish 12th in the points. In the FIA GT1 Championship, he scored no wins or podiums.
In 2011, he was driving Ford GT in both competitions, the GT3 version for Fischer Racing and GT1 version for Belgian Racing, not scoring wins or podiums.
Blancpain Endurance Series runner-up in 2011 and 2012
In 2011, Palttala participated in the inaugural season of the Blancpain Endurance Series with Marc VDS Racing's cars, first with Ford GT and then with BMW Z4 GT3. With two wins in five races, at Magny-Cours and Silverstone, he finished second in the points. His partners in victorious races were Bas Leinders and Maxime Martin.
Next year, Palttala was the runner-up again in the Blancpain Endurance Series, after winning two races with Marc VDS Racing's BMW Z4 GT3. Bas Leinders and Maxime Martin were his partners again.
FIA WEC season and Le Mans return with Porsche in 2012
In 2012, Palltala also spent half a season in the FIA World Endurance Championship, driving the #55 Porsche 997 GT3 RSR for JWA-Avila team in the GTE Am class. A part of the championship was 24 Hours of Le Mans, where Palttala finished 8th in the class, sharing a car with Joel Camathias and Paul Daniels.
In 2013, Palttala participated in three FIA WEC races for IMSA Performance Matmut but also continued to drive BMW Z4 GT3 for Marc VDS Racing in the Blancpain Endurance Series.
Moving a career to America in 2014
In 2014, Palttala moved a career to North American, participating full season in the GTD class of the IMSA United Sports Car Championship with Turner Motorsport's BMW Z4 GT3. With four wins and six podiums, he finished sixth in the final standings. Palttala's full-time teammate was Dane Cameron.
In June 2014, Palttala participated at Le Mans 24 Hours for the third time, driving Porsche 911 GT3 RSR for Prospeed Competition together with Emmanuel Collard and Francois Perrodo. They retired after 194 laps.
2014 - trying stock cars racing, taking podium at 24h Spa
While racing in America in 2014, Palttala occasionally contested in Europe. One of his competitions was the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series. He was driving Toyota for Marc VDS team in four races.
He also joined Marc VDS team at Spa 24 Hours, scoring a podium in the #77 BMW Z4 GT3. He finished in the second place together with Lucas Luhr and Dirk Werner. He also won one European Le Mans Series race, at Estoril, with Marc VDS Racing's BMW.
2015 – one more season with Turner Motorsport
In 2015, Palttala continued to drive BMW Z4 GT3 for Turner Motorsport in the United Sports Car Championship. This time, he finished 11th in the GTD class standings, scoring one podium in nine races. His full-time co-driver was Michael Marsal.
Besides racing in America, Palttala was successful with Marc VDS team in Europe, scoring some notable results in famous endurance races.
Podium at Nurburgring 24h, victory at Spa 24h
2016 – Renault Sport Trophy endurance champion
In 2016, Palttala spent his third season in the IMSA Sportscar Championship with Turner Motorsport, switching to BMW M6 GT3. He scored just one podium in the GTD class, finishing in the 11th place in the final standings.
In Europe, his main competition was the Renault Sport Trophy. Driving for Marc VDS team, he became the endurance champion in the series, together with his teammate Fabian Schiller. In the Pro drivers classification, Palttala finished in the third place.
2017 – one more podium at Nurburgring
For the 2017 season, Palttala joined Rowe Racing to drive a BMW M6 GT3 both in the Endurance Cup and Sprint Cup of the Blancpain GT Series. He also drives for the team in the VLN Endurance Series.