Last weekend’s sensational triumph for Walkenhorst Motorsport at the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (BEL) with the BMW M6 GT3 was the highlight of the 2018 season so far from a BMW Customer Racing point of view. After seven months of race action, it has been a more than positive year to date for the three BMW M Motorsport customer race cars: the BMW M6 GT3, the new BMW M4 GT4 and the BMW M235i Racing have enjoyed plenty of success and thrilled motorsport fans around the world. As well as the BMW M6 GT3’s magnificent victory at Spa, the new BMW M4 GT4, in its first season, has also proved to be a successful model from the word go in the hands of international customers.
“It has been a great pleasure to watch the performances of our BMW Customer Racing cars, drivers and teams in recent months,” says BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt. “The year started well for the BMW M6 GT3, with the title in the Asian Le Mans Series. It has also tasted success in various series in Europe, Asia and North America. The latest victory at Spa-Francorchamps, courtesy of the Walkenhorst team, was obviously the icing on the cake. The BMW M235i Racing is continuing its success story as the ideal entry-level model. I am also impressed by the start that our new customer racing car, the BMW M4 GT4, has made. What started with the first GT4 win at the legendary Bathurst 12-hour race progressed better than we had hoped, with many more victories and podium finishes over the course of the season.”
BMW M Motorsport customers have been competing in the high-quality and fiercely-competitive GT4 class with the BMW M4 GT4 since the start of the 2018 season. The new car earned its prestigious first class victory at Bathurst (AUS) on the first weekend in February, courtesy of the Boat Works Racing Team. This was followed, between then and the end of July, by a further 19 race wins in Europe, Asia, North America and Australia. Race series in which the BMW M4 GT4 has been successful include the VLN Endurance Championship at the Nürburgring, the British GT Championship, the GT4 European Series, the Australian GT Championship, the Pirelli World Challenge and the Blancpain GT Series Asia. As well as the class wins, teams also took more than 50 top-three and over 120 top-ten finishes with the BMW M4 GT4.
Back in February, the AAI Motorsports team won the GT title in the Asian Le Mans Series with the BMW M6 GT3, which received an Evo package for the 2018 season. Among those in action at the wheel of the car was BMW works driver Jesse Krohn (FIN). In total, teams running the top model in the BMW Customer Racing range have so far achieved 14 class or overall wins, 30 top-three finishes, and over 60 top-ten results in 2018. As well as winning the 24h Spa, the BMW M6 GT3 has also claimed victories in the Italian GT Championship, the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup, the Blancpain GT Sports Club, the International GT Open, the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the Japanese Super GT Championship.
As well as in its own specific BMW M235i Racing Cup class within the VLN and the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring (GER), the BMW M235i Racing is primarily used in the North American Pirelli World Challenge and the 24h Series. This global endurance series includes the 24h Dubai (UAE), 24h Silverstone (GBR), 24h Austin (USA) and the 24h Portimão (POR). In 2018, the BMW M235i Racing currently has 14 class wins, more than 40 top-three finishes and over 100 top-ten results to its name.
Additional support for successful BMW privateers.
With the BMW Sports Trophy, BMW M Motorsport is once again recognising the performances of private BMW drivers and teams with a total prize purse of 350,000 euros for the 25 most successful drivers and the season’s top ten teams. Just under 250 drivers and 45 teams are registered for the 2017/18 competition. Up to now, more than 1,300 individual BMW results at almost 200 events have been recorded by the BMW Sports Trophy team. By the end of the season, this figure will have risen to approx. 340 race events. This season, BMW Sports Trophy points are up for grabs in 47 race series and events. The races take place in 27 different countries.
Three BMW customer racers had their financial support increased again in 2018: Michael Schrey (GER), Max Koebolt (NED) and Ricardo van der Ende (NED). With his two overall VLN victories in 2016 and 2017, Schrey is one of the most successful BMW privateers. In 2016, he won the BMW Sports Trophy Drivers’ Competition. As a reward for his consistently outstanding performances, Schrey received an additional bonus, which is available to him for his outings in the BMW M235i Racing. “I am now in my fifth year of driving BMW cars in various race series. Following the two VLN titles in 2016 and 2017, and victory in the 2016 BMW Sports Trophy, I have had a very close relationship with BMW Motorsport for a long time,” says Schrey. “As such, I was particularly pleased to hear about this scheme and support for 2018. It is nice to see the number 1 on a BMW in the VLN. At the same time, it is a nice reward for all the work I’ve put in over the past few years.”
As well as Schrey, the two BMW Sports Trophy winners from the 2016/17 season, Max Koebolt und Ricardo van der Ende, also receive a bonus. “It was a great honour for me when BMW Motorsport approached me with this news,” says Koebolt. “It showed that they have great faith in me as a racing driver. Winning the BMW Sports Trophy and the additional support have opened many new doors for me.” Van der Ende adds: “I am very happy that programmes like the BMW Sports Trophy exist. Right from the word go I have wanted to win this competition, in order to make a good impression at BMW. Since finishing runner-up in 2011, I have always tried to race in a BMW. When I finally won the competition last year, it was an incredible feeling – not only because of the prize money. I am very grateful to BMW for the extra support this season. Without it, I would probably not have been able to drive a BMW this time. It feels really good to now be driving the BMW M4 GT4.”