Sebring. The second round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship concluded the ‘BMW M Motorsport Super Weekend’ at Sebring (USA). Following a second-place finish for BMW Team MTEK in the FIA World Endurance Championship’s (WEC) race on Friday, it was BMW Team RLL’s turn to send two BMW M8 GTE cars into action for the 12-hour endurance classic held at Sebring International Raceway. After 330 laps, car #24 crossed the line fourth in the GTLM class. The second BMW M8 GTE finished seventh.
Over the course of the race, John Edwards (USA), Jesse Krohn (FIN) and Philipp Eng (AUT) alternated at the wheel of the #24 machine. Their team-mates Connor De Phillippi (USA), Tom Blomqvist (GBR) and Colton Herta (USA) were on duty driving the sister car.
While rain had caused a thrilling final hour during the WEC race, it was responsible for a start behind the safety car on Saturday. After more than 40 minutes the Florida GT marathon went green in wet conditions. Both BMW M8 GTEs quickly formed part of the GTLM field top group and were involved in some good fights with other cars. Ultimately the two BMW crews had to make do with fourth and seventh. The #911 Porsche secured victory.
Turner Motorsport raced in the GTD category with the #96 BMW M6 GT3. Bill Auberlen, Dillon Machavern and Robby Foley (all USA) were fighting for a podium over long stretches of the races, before being forced to retire with just 15 minutes to go due to a technical issue. It was Auberlen’s 26th start at the Sebring 12 Hours and the 413th start in his career as BMW driver.
Reactions to the 12 Hours of Sebring.
Jens Marquardt (BMW Motorsport Director): “Following Friday’s WEC thriller, this race was slightly more relaxed. Apart from rain in the opening stage, this year’s 12 Hours of Sebring saw no major incidents involving our two BMW M8 GTE cars, however this time BMW Team RLL wasn’t rewarded with a podium for their great efforts. Congratulations to Porsche on the victory. We had to make do with P4 and P7. More wasn’t possible today. Nevertheless, our sporting performance this weekend was very positive. The BMW M8 GTE left a strong impression when finishing second in WEC’s LM GTE Pro class. As was the case in Daytona, we were competitive again in the IMSA series, too. This makes us head into the next races anticipating more strong outcomes – in North America as well as in the World Championship. In any case, ‘Super Sebring’ was good for all of us. Twenty years after our overall win with the BMW V12 LMR we put on a good show again for the fans here at Sebring.”
Bobby Rahal (Team Principal BMW Team RLL): “It started out very well and the guys in the team all did a great job. It looked like it was going to rain more which would have been a good thing for us but in the end it didn’t. We, of course, wanted to do better but we just didn’t have the pace of the leaders. We go to Long Beach now and we’ll see what we can do there.”
John Edwards (#24 BMW M8 GTE, fourth place): “I think it was clear pretty early on that we didn’t have a car to win so we focused on the podium, but even that was going to be tough. We had a slightly shorter fuel stint than our competitors so we had to save a lot and still try and push. It meant I had to lose a place to the Corvette and miss out on the podium. But, we got some points in the bag for the championship and, as we saw last year, you don’t need to win races to take the title.”
Jesse Krohn (#24 BMW M8 GTE, fourth place): “It was a flawless race from the team, which did a really amazing job with strategy and keeping the car together. There was also a really strong performance from my team-mates in some very tough conditions. Today our competitors made it onto the podium but we did the best with what we had.”
Philipp Eng (#24 BMW M8 GTE, fourth place): “A podium would have been nice after our hard work and strong performance. The whole team did a faultless job again today – we were good on strategy and I think we maximised what we had. It was cool to be in the #24 BMW M8 GTE and I hope we can get on the podium next time.”
Connor De Phillippi (#25 BMW M8 GTE, seventh place): “We have some positives to take away and we learned a few things that I think will benefit us in the season. Overall, the guys worked hard during the weekend, so not to get on the podium was a little disappointing, but now we will move on to the next round at Long Beach.”
Tom Blomqvist (#25 BMW M8 GTE, seventh place): “Obviously, it was not the race result we would have liked. That said, it was a good start with the wet conditions and we had a really strong pace. We managed to get into the lead for a little bit and we were one of the quickest fighting at the front, but for some reason we really struggled in the dry today.”
Colton Herta (#25 BMW M8 GTE, seventh place): “It was a long but very exciting race. We fought hard and gave it our all. By the middle of the race we were looking okay but we just kept dropping back. For me, right now, its not about results but about learning and doing everything right.”