Posted 17 March 2012 - 23:27
Markus Höttinger was an Austrian racing driver, born on May 28th, 1956 at Neunkirschen. His father was a judge in the national court and his mother was a teacher and Höttinger followed his parents’ steps and started being noticed about his great abilities at school. One of the best students of the prestigious Militärgymnasium, he proceeded to study Medicine in the college, but also took on Physical education and Journalism!! He was also a great sportsman, he practiced ski at Ski Austria Academy with Prof.Franz Hopplicher, for many, the father of the modern ski training methods and mentor of many champions. During a Summer break, he did an internship at Mercedes-Benz and earned some money, which he used to buy a Ford to enter in touring car races.
In 1976, he started racing at the Renault 5 Cup in Austria and he only needed one rookie year, as in 1977 he was champion. Dr.Helmut Marko, himself an Austrian ex-driver who had to retire after loosing an eye due to a stone at the 1972 French GP, was searching for Niki Lauda’s “heir”, and Höttinger drew his attention. Helmut supported Markus and referred him to BMW’s competition boss, Jochen Neerpasch. He hadn’t to wait too much: before the Kyalami 1000 Km, an extra-championship touring car race, Eddie Cheever (who was F2 BMW driver) was injuried and was unable to race, so Jochen called Höttinger to pair Harald Grohs in a Faltz-Alpina Essen BMW 320. Despite his lack of knowledge about the powerful car, he rode well and finished 3rd.
In 1978, he was engaged by BMW and his program included running the DRM (Deutsche Rennsportmeisterschaft), which was the German National Championship, composed by 2 Divisions: D1 for Sports Cars (like Porsche 956) and D2 for Touring Cars (like BMW 320). Höttinger was engaged for the semi-works GS-Tuning team to race a BMW 320. Racing against some of the greatest touring car drivers of the era, like Hans Heyer, Dieter Quester, Armin Hahne, Toine Hezemans, Harald Ertl… he took his first win at his 3rd race, at the dreadful Nürburgring. He would win more two races and finish the championship at the 4th position, ex-aequo, with 117 pts.
He proved he had enough talent and, for 1979 BMW kept him at the DRM, now with Jägermeister Racing; but also offered him the F2 debut with a small team, Bob Salisbury Racing. With a March 792-BMW, sponsored by Jägermeister,