Alexander Sims finished second in the iconic ADAC 24h Race, held at the Nürburgring, Germany, on 27-28 May 2017. The British BMW works driver piloted the No. 98 Rowe Racing BMW M6 GT3 during the gruelling endurance event, with the team overcoming a sudden downpour in the final minutes of the race to secure a podium finish.
Having finished fifth in last year’s race, Sims and the Rowe Racing team were out to better their position this year on the 25.738km circuit, which incorporates the Nürburgring Grand Prix circuit and the legendary Nordschleife. The team’s combined qualifying results from the Thursday and Friday sessions put the No. 98 in tenth place, advancing it into the top 30 qualifying shootout. Sims set a fastest lap time of 8:20.52, making him the fourth fastest BMW driver and putting the car 21st on the grid of 158 cars for the start of the race.
Driven by Sims and team-mates Richard Westbrook, Markus Palttala and Nick Catsburg, the quartet had a good start to the race and began climbing through the field, which was so busy backmarkers were already being lapped when the front-runners were on their second lap. Sims had a strong early stint and thanks to a short and well-timed pit-stop took the race lead, with the #29 Land Audi and #9 WRT Audi behind in second and third respectively.
However, the Nürburgring is all about staying power and by the six-hour mark the race leader had changed 11 times with the No. 98 Rowe Racing BMW M6 GT3 running in fourth place.
During the night, the team remained consistent with Sims completing two double stints to help keep the team in the leading pack. Emerging from the darkness having completed over 100 laps of the 25km circuit, the No. 98 was running in third place and just 1m28s behind the frontrunners come the morning.
As the clock ticked down in the final hours, Sims put in a fantastic double stint and was running in third place, handing over to Catsburg for the final sprint to the finish. With just one hour to go, the No. 29 Audi pitted with an electrical fault, elevating the No. 98 Rowe Racing BMW to second place. Then, a sudden dramatic rain downpour while the car was on slick tyres meant that Catsburg had to slow to a crawl around the track, easing the car back to the pits to change for wet-weather tyres. With these fitted, it was a final one-lap dash to the finish line to take an astounding second place, crossing the line 29.418s behind the No. 29 Audi and ahead of the No. 9 Audi in third place.
“I’m absolutely ecstatic,” says Sims, who has competed in the iconic race four times. “It’s an amazing result and a brilliant achievement for the team. We didn’t put a foot wrong the entirety of the race; everything went to plan and everyone did a brilliant job. We made the most of every opportunity that came our way and it really paid off. I’m so happy to be on the podium. After fifth place last year, we knew we could do that bit better having learned more about the car and all the hard work and dedication has paid off.
“As always, it’s been a challenging race,” adds Sims. “Keeping your body and mind alert and focused in the varying conditions is tough but everyone put in maximum effort to achieve these results. To finish on the podium has been so special; I’m thrilled with the result!”
After a busy run of races in May, Sims next competes with Rowe Racing at Paul Ricard, France, on 23-24 June for the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup before he returns to the USA for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship ‘Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen’ on 2 July. In the meantime, Sims will take part in the inaugural Spacesuit Orbital Run on 3-4 June, in which he and fellow driver Jody Fannin will pilot a BMW i8 supercar for 24 hours of continuous driving around the M25 motorway. The initiative aims to highlight the environmental issues faced by motor transport today as well as solutions already available from the automotive world, while raising money for the Buttle charity, which seeks to improve the lives of children and young people.
Source. Mel Wicks