The first part of the “BMW M Motorsport Super Weekend” – featuring FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship races – is completed. In the sixth round of the WEC Super Season, BMW Team MTEK finished second and seventh in the LM GTE Pro class respectively with its two BMW M8 GTEs. It was the first podium finish for the team since WEC’s Fuji (JPN) round.
After 226 laps and a dramatic finish with heavy rain, the #81 car crossed the line in second place. Martin Tomczyk (GER), Nick Catsburg (NED) and Alexander Sims (GBR), who celebrated his 31st birthday on Friday, had shared driving duties over the course of the race. Their team-mates Augusto Farfus (BRA), António Félix da Costa (POR) and Bruno Spengler (CAN) came seventh in the #82 sister car. Victory at Sebring was secured by the #91 Porsche.
In an eventful first phase of the race, both BMW M8 GTE cars were able to improve their positions quickly. Farfus was leading the field at the end of his stint, after starting fourth on the grid. Car #81 took the lead for the first time with a good two hours to go. Only during a late pit stop in the rain did final-stint driver Catsburg drop to second place. Over the course of the race, the GTE class cars had been running closely together, with frequent position changes due to spectacular moves or differing pit stop strategies.
On Saturday, the “BMW M Motorsport Super Weekend” will continue when round two of the IMSA series will be on the agenda for BMW Team RLL. Following the team’s win at Daytona (USA), the two BMW M8 GTE cars will start from sixth and seventh on the grid at Sebring.
Reactions on the WEC race at Sebring.
Jens Marquardt (BMW Motorsport Director):
“What a thriller. This was an amazingly gripping race, with a dramatic finish in the rain over the final 20 minutes. In this finale we narrowly missed out on the victory, but managed to take a satisfying second place after a good fight. Obviously you want to make it onto the top-step of the podium after such a dramatic final phase, and of course it was a pity that the race finished behind the safety car. However, positive emotions dominate today due to the strong performance we delivered. Congratulations to Martin Tomczyk, Nick Catsburg and Alexander Sims – and to the whole team. Our second car was running strongly as well, even though it couldn’t fight for a podium. The Sebring fans were treated to some great fights; the GTE Pro class for sure delivered the best action in the field. The atmosphere here is great; it’s a unique event. Now we want to build on that and score another top result with BMW Team RLL on Saturday in the IMSA series.”
Ernest Knoors (Team Principal, BMW Team MTEK):
“It’s been a pleasure coming to Sebring. It’s an iconic track and you only know how special it is when you have experienced it. It’s been tough for our crew but they have been extremely good. The test was very hot for the boys and girls but they learned a lot and put it all to use this week. We had strong pace but we were struggling with tyre degradation. To be in a position where you can fight in the last hour was exactly what we needed to do and we did that today. It just didn’t go our way in the end. Compliments to Porsche for the win – it was a great battle.”
Martin Tomczyk (#81 BMW M8 GTE, second place):
“Obviously, it was a super-clean race from all three of us drivers so we were really happy with own performance. The car was in good shape, especially when it got dark. The rain helped us but not enough. It was close to us getting the first WEC victory but being on the podium is great for the team and for myself.”
Nick Catsburg (#81 BMW M8 GTE, second place):
“It feels great to finally be on the WEC podium. It was a crazy race – I just wish we could have held on to first place. The team did a flawless job. Let’s celebrate now.”
Alexander Sims (#81 BMW M8 GTE, second place):
“It was a pretty fun race! The car had good pace throughout the race and the team did a great job – they executed everything properly. The rain was exciting and Nicky did a great job to bring it home in P2.”
António Félix da Costa (#82 BMW M8 GTE, seventh place):
“It’s my first time at Sebring. It’s an amazing event but it’s a super hard track to learn in just a few days. As a team, we performed a lot better than ever before. We had a real shot at winning today but we double stinted the tyres and lost some time. I’m really happy for the #81 car to get their first podium and our second podium as a team.”
Augusto Farfus (#82 BMW M8 GTE, seventh place):
“It was a tough one, to be honest. I was pleased with my opening stint when the balance of the car felt great. However, we lost pace halfway through the race. We tried to make our way back up but it was just not possible. We got a lot of mileage and knowledge to take with us to Spa and Le Mans. It was a top job by the other crew and we’re delighted to see them on the podium.”
Bruno Spengler (#82 BMW M8 GTE, seventh place):
“It was a really good week and I was so happy to do my first WEC race. It was a new challenge for me and it was great to be back with my DTM team. I enjoyed it a lot even though it didn’t turn out the way we would have liked it. Congratulations to the team for the podium.”