BMW Team MTEK started the China round of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) from the front row of the grid, but multiple red-flags and wet conditions made the ‘6 Hours of Shanghai’ a challenge, and the team had to settle for sixth and ninth in the LM GTE Pro class.
It was the first time the BMW M8 GTE had run in very wet conditions and it was also the team’s debut at the “Shanghai International Circuit”, making the challenge tough.
The #81 BMW M8 GTE started from second place, but a mid-race safety car period fell at the wrong time to benefit the team’s strategy, leaving drivers Martin Tomcyzk (GER) and Nick Catsburg (NED) to cross the line in sixth place. The #82 sister-car pushed hard and was running in fifth place in the final hour, but a stop-and-go penalty dropped Tom Blomqvist (GBR) and António Félix da Costa (POR) to ninth.
Comments on the ‘6 Hours of Shanghai’:
Jens Marquardt (BMW Motorsport Director):
“While our colleagues were victorious in the FIA GT World Cup at Macau, we did not have so much fortune in the ‘6 Hours of Shanghai’. We had some tough conditions to battle with and a lot of strategy calls to make. Like other teams, we were unlucky when the safety cars fell, and tyre choices didn’t always work out. It was the first time we have run the BMW M8 GTE on the full wet tyres, and we have some improvements to make there, but we showed in practice and qualifying that we are strong in the dry and damp.”
Ernest Knoors (Team Principal, BMW Team MTEK):
“In the end we can’t be happy with the result. To do well in a difficult event like this you need to make perfect calls and have some luck – unfortunately, this was not our race. But we did see the potential of the car earlier on in the weekend – in the dry and damp we got up to speed on a new track and qualified on the front row. We’d not yet driven the BMW M8 GTE in the wet, so we were really learning ‘on the job’ – it’s difficult to learn new conditions in the race. That said, every race is a learning curve, but we always come back stronger.”
Martin Tomczyk (#81 BMW M8 GTE):
“It was not the Sunday that we expected. After a strong performance in the damp in practice, we thought we would be quick in the wet but we really struggled in the heavy rain, which we’ve never driven the BMW M8 GTE in before. Now it’s the winter break so we need to make the most of the time and come back stronger.”
Nick Catsburg (#81 BMW M8 GTE):
“It was a disappointing race for us. We need to get a better understanding of the wet tyre because we simply had no pace today. It’s a shame because in qualifying the BMW M8 GTE felt great. We learned a lot today and have a good gap before Sebring to work on our wet weather set-up.”
António Félix da Costa (#82 BMW M8 GTE):
“The end result is not great, but we started with a well-executed race. Even though we did not have the pace today, we took some gambles, some of which worked and some didn’t. We fought hard to run in fifth place but a late-race penalty dropped us back. It was disappointing but there’s a big gap between now and Sebring, so we have time to improve.”
Tom Blomqvist (#82 BMW M8 GTE):
“It’s not the result we were hoping for but it was really difficult with the red flags interrupting things. The last three hours went more smoothly but we didn’t have the pace in these wet conditions. There’s a lot that we need to look at and understand – at some points in the race we had pace but not at others, so we need to discover why we were not consistent. We’ve learned lots and there are plenty of positives to take away – it is simply part of the learning process when you compete with a new car.”