Second top-ten finish for BWT Mücke Motorsport in the 24 Hours of Dubai at second attempt. The team’s Audi R8 LMS #9 took P6 in the prestigious 24-hour race at the Dubai Autodrome last weekend (10th – 12th January 2019). The five drivers – Audi Sport’s Markus Winkelhock, Ford works driver Stefan Mücke, Mike David Ortmann, Ricardo Feller and Andreas Weishaupt – were on course to take a podium for quite a long time until a stone flew up, changing everything…
The weekend’s highlights
New record: Things got off to great start in Thursday’s qualifying session for the 24-hour race. Winkelhock was behind the wheel of the next-generation Audi R8 LMS which the team were fielding for the first time in Dubai. The Audi Sport driver qualified in fourth place and was just 73 thousandths of a second off the pace of the car in front of him, setting a new record in qualifying for BWT Mücke Motorsport in Dubai. The first time they entered the desert classic in 2018, they were fifth on the grid.
Team work par excellence: Winkelhock managed to maintain fourth position at the start and become established as one of the front-runners. The team had no problem in consistently staying within the Top Five and were even among the Top Three during the night. However, a stone thrown up on track destroyed all their hopes during the 17th hour of the race. Telemetry data showed an increase in temperature and on closer inspection in the pits, it became apparent that the radiator on the Audi R8 LMS would have to be replaced. The mechanics were unstinting in their efforts and went about their work in a very professional, focused manner, ensuring that the Audi R8 LMS was back out on track after just 20 minutes.
Fighting spirit: Despite the mechanics’ magnificent performance, the team had to slot back into place in P11 after the stop for repairs. Their goal for the hours that remained was clear, to bite the bullet and regain as many positions as possible, which they did very successfully. Huge cheers broke out in BWT Mücke Motorsport’s garage when Feller brought the Audi R8 LMS over the line in sixth place. Their series of fine results is thus unbroken following last year’s 24-hour events in Dubai and at the Nürburgring and this season’s round in Dubai, as they again took the chequered flag in this third 24-hour race in team history.
Juniors on top: The stars of tomorrow saw action in Dubai before the ‘top guns’ came out on track to demonstrate their skill. BWT Mücke Motorsport fielded Joshua Duerksen from Paraguay and the German Nico Göhler in four rounds of the Formula 4 UAE – and with tremendous success. Duerksen (P3, P4, P3) finished on the podium in two races while Göhler (P8, P5, P6) came home not too far behind him. But they saved the best until the end when Duerksen secured BWT Mücke Motorsport’s maiden victory in the UAE and Göhler took third place, giving the team a dream result.
Comments about the weekend
Stefan Mücke: “We fought for the podium for most of the race, but unfortunately, a damaged radiator cost us a lot of time, so we didn’t stand a chance. Apart from that, drivers and team had a flawless race, and there wasn’t a single scratch on the car after 24 hours. All our drivers were on superb form, but unfortunately, we had some bad luck at the start with the Code60 periods. The whole team did just great. Well done! Everybody was extremely well motivated and did a good job. We’re well pleased with the team’s performance. It’s just the end result that doesn’t suit, and so, we’ve now got a score to settle next year in Dubai.”
Ricardo Feller: “We can be very satisfied on the whole. The race got the season off to a good start. We worked really well as a team, which pleased me no end. The car had plenty of speed, but unfortunately, we were unlucky with the Code60 periods and the damaged radiator. We drivers didn’t put a foot wrong, and the car stayed in one piece, so we have to be pleased.”
Mike David Ortmann: “We can be highly delighted with sixth place after the way our race went. You can easily lose four minutes in Dubai through the Code60s, and as a consequence, good and bad luck sit side by side at this particular track. I was very pleased with my stints. I really gave it my all. Thanks to everyone in the team for doing a great job. The race was another terrific experience for me and a lot of fun. It would have been nice if we’d all been rewarded with a podium, but unfortunately, that’s sometimes simply out of your control.”
Markus Winkelhock: “Unfortunately, the race did not go as we’d hoped. We had a great crew of drivers and the team were really well prepared. Our goal was to win, or at least, finish on the podium. No one made any mistakes, neither team nor drivers, but we didn’t have the necessary stroke of luck, which is even more important in Dubai than in other 24-hour races thanks to the Code60 periods and the situation with refuelling. That’s where we lost a lot of time through no fault of our own. P6 is a good result after the problem with the radiator but is obviously not what we’d hoped for. I want to say ‘many thanks’ to everyone for pulling out all the stops until the very end. The atmosphere was great and the outfit are a class act. I hope we can come back next year and finish on the podium.”
Andreas Weishaupt: “The team worked brilliantly well all weekend and the atmosphere was really great. Unfortunately, we did not have the luck needed during stops for fuel and during Code60 periods, and to top it all, we were unlucky with the radiator that had to be replaced, so sixth place is a respectable result. There’s no point whingeing about it, though. We’ll just have to try again in 2020!”
Peter Mücke (Team Principal): “There will always be ifs and buts in motor racing, but this time, ‘if only’ really does fit the bill. We would have finished on the podium had we not lost time changing the radiator. We could see from the data that the temperature was rising and realised that the radiator must have been hit by a stone at some point. I have to admit that the eventual race winners were unbeatable. They didn’t have any bad luck or make any mistakes and were the best, taking a well deserved victory, for which I want to congratulate them. Unfortunately, the gods of racing were simply not prepared to smile on us. I was, though, highly delighted with our youngsters racing in Formula 4. They are both complete rookies but showed such tremendous progress over the course of the four races in Dubai that we were even able to secure a double podium in the end. It was an excellent result and showed their ability to learn quickly, which made this old guy very happy indeed.”
Matthias Kieper (PR & Team Management): “Feelings within the team are obviously mixed, as we had a realistic chance of finishing on the podium, and yet, ‘only’ took P6 in the end. Still, I’m sure that the elation felt on achieving so much will soon prevail. This was only the third 24-hour race that we have ever tackled, and we took the chequered flag once again. That’s a fine result, for which all our team members deserve to be congratulated! The whole team have made tremendous progress within the space of just one year. The unplanned pit stop was, of course, extremely annoying and wrecked our chances of a podium as it did last year. At this point, I would like to express my thanks once more to the guys from Audi Sport for helping us change the radiator. Congratulations to the crew from Car Collection on having an error-free race and on taking a well deserved win as a result.”
Michael Weiss (Technical Manager): “Feelings in the team are mixed as we head home, but still, we are in excellent spirits on the whole. We were well prepared and had an error-free weekend. We knew that it wouldn’t be easy, as many other teams from the ADAC GT Masters and Blancpain GT series were competing alongside us. The other entrants had also had much more experience of the Hankook tyres. In certain race situations, you just have to be lucky enough to pit at the right moment, as the Code60 periods can gain or lose you a lot of ground. Unfortunately, we were out of luck four times. We obviously hope that things will go better in the next race, but all that aside, I would like to say a big ‘thank you’ to the whole team for their mega performance. We’ve made a superb start to the New Year!”
Source. BWT Mücke Motorsport/Photo. Gruppe C Photography