Augusto Farfus (BRA), Markus Palttala (FIN), Christian Krognes (NOR) and Fabian Schiller (GER) in the #102 Shell Helix BMW M6 GT3 finished 13th overall at the Nürburgring 24 Hours (GER), making them the best-placed BMW representative. The quartet lost time in the opening stages, following a minor collision, but then progressed without any major issues for the rest of the race. In unsettled weather conditions and after many incidents, only two of the four BMW M6 GT3s that started in the SP9 class actually finished the race. The race was suspended with 3:30 hours remaining and was eventually restarted after a break of about two hours. Victory went to the #912 Porsche. Private BMW teams claimed three victories in the remaining classes.
Having finished runner-up last year, luck once again deserted ROWE Racing. The #99 BMW M6 GT3 – with drivers Connor De Phillippi (USA), Alexander Sims (GBR), Jesse Krohn (FIN) and Martin Tomczyk (GER) – was forced to retire on Saturday evening, following a chain of unfortunate circumstances: As a consequence of a damaged radiator following a minor collision, the engine was damaged to such a degree that the car could not continue. The #98 car, with Nick Catsburg (NED), John Edwards (USA), Richard Westbrook (GBR) and Tom Blomqvist (GBR) at the wheel, led the race several times early on, but was then handed a time penalty that saw them drop back through the field. They then encountered issues with the electric drive by wire system in the night, which cost them any chances of a good position and led them to retire.
The #33 Falken Motorsports BMW M6 GT3 also lost time during repairs in the first third of the race, but did come home 15th at the end of the 24 hours. Jens Klingmann (GER), Alexandre Imperatori (SUI), Stef Dusseldorp (NED) and Peter Dumbreck (GBR) shared the driving duties.
Victory in the fiercely-competitive BMW M235i Racing Cup class, in which 15 cars were involved, went to Heiko Eichenberg, Yannick Mettler (both GER), Torsten Kratz (AUT) and Tristan Viidas (EST) of the Securtal Sorg Rennsport team. They finished ahead of the Hofor Racing powered by Bonk Motorsport and Pixum Team Adrenalin Motorsport cars in second and third place. BMW customer teams celebrated a further two victories in the V4 and SP4 classes.
After technical issues with the #60 BMW M4 GT4, which they shared with Dirk Adorf (GER) and Tom Coronel (NED), BMW Motorsport Juniors Beitske Visser (NED) and Nico Menzel (GER) came home sixth in the SP 8T class and gained valuable experience during the marathon in the “Green Hell”.
Quotes after the Nürburgring 24 Hours:
Jens Marquardt (BMW Motorsport Director):
“Unfortunately, that was not the 24-hour race we had hoped for. We were right up there with the leading group in terms of pace, and had the fastest car in the field at times. That makes it all the more disappointing that incidents and technical difficulties prevented us from being involved in the battle for the top positions in the overall standings. That is bitter for everyone who worked so hard during the preparations and in the race. In the end, the #102 BMW M6 GT3 was the best-placed BMW in 13th place. The BMW teams fought superbly in the other classes and claimed three victories. That is the positive side of what has, on the whole, been a very tough race for us. Congratulations to Porsche on their overall victory. We will be back next year.”
Augusto Farfus (#102 Shell Helix BMW M6 GT3):
“It is always a great experience to be able to drive in this race. I would like to thank BMW Motorsport for giving me that opportunity again this year. The new combination of team, car, tyre and drivers was a challenge. With that in mind, we did a good job. We are the best BMW team and got the Shell Helix BMW M6 GT3 home in one piece.”
Jens Klingmann (#33 BMW M6 GT3, Falken Motorsports):
“BMW Motorsport came here with the goal of claiming its 20th overall victory. We also wanted to achieve a maiden win for Falken Motorsports. It was obviously disappointing to be three laps down just a few hours into the race, due to technical issues. Despite this, we did our best, did not make any mistakes, and brought the car home without any further problems. Unfortunately, we were lacking a little pace compared to the leaders, particularly in the wet. All in all, I had a great time with Falken Motorsports. The team is very professional and did a fantastic job.”
John Edwards (#98 BMW M6 GT3, ROWE Racing):
“A retirement at a 24-hour race is always disappointing, but it is particularly painful when you would have been in with a chance of winning – and we were in with a chance. The BMW M6 GT3 was very fast in the first few hours, in which we led the race at times. I was very confident ahead of the rest of the race. Unfortunately, we then had issues.”
Connor De Phillippi (#99 BMW M6 GT3, ROWE Racing):
“I was the third car in a chain at the start of a Code 60 zone. The first car braked very early, which resulted in collisions behind it. I drove into the rear of the Audi in front of me and damaged the radiator on my car. We did not have any water pressure and I was unable to continue. I feel very sorry for the team and my team-mates.”
Nico Menzel (#60 BMW M4 GT4, Sorg Rennsport):
“It is obviously very frustrating that we had technical issues, but it was still nice to cross the finish line with the BMW M4 GT4. On the whole, it was a fantastic experience. I was able to drive at the start of my home race. Seeing all the fans along the track during the warm-up lap almost brought a tear to my eye. I enjoyed the atmosphere. The fact that our BMW M4 GT4 featured prominently in the TV coverage was also great fun. I would like to say a big thank you to the Sorg Rennsport team, which put their all into the car and did an awesome job.”
Beitske Visser (#60 BMW M4 GT4, Sorg Rennsport):
“I am very grateful that BMW made this fantastic experience possible. It was my first 24-hour race and my long stint in the night, in particular, was really crazy. It is very dark out there, but it is still great fun. Generally speaking, we had a great team in our BMW M4 GT4. The atmosphere was superb and I benefitted an awful lot from the experience of Dirk Adorf and Tom Coronel.”