The BMW Team Schnitzer just missed out on the first podium finish of the season in the penultimate race of the Intercontinental GT Challenge season, the Suzuka 10 Hours (JPN). After Augusto Farfus (BRA) had secured pole position on Saturday in the #42 BMW M6 GT3, he and his team-mates Martin Tomczyk (GER) and Nick Yelloly (GBR) were involved in the battle for the podium for long periods. The trio completed the race in fifth place after 275 laps.
The opening phase of the race was dominated by the two BMW M6 GT3s of BMW Team Schnitzer and Walkenhorst Motorsport. Tomczyk took the lead from pole position, while Nick Catsburg (NED) moved up from third on the grid to second place in the #34 car. The duo retained these leading positions until the first pit stop. However, the second stint saw Christian Krognes (NOR) unluckily involved in an accident as he was preparing to lap two cars ahead of him. One of the cars hit the rear of the #34 BMW M6 GT3, causing such serious damage that the team was forced to retire from the race after lengthy repair attempts.
A short time later, the #42 car had to surrender the lead to the #25 Audi that ultimately won the race. As the race progressed, BMW Team Schnitzer always stayed within touching distance of the podium positions, but was just unable to secure a place on the podium. After a number of tight battles during the race and a drive-through penalty, applied after an error during a pit stop, Yelloly crossed the finishing line in fifth place.
The Intercontinental GT Challenge season finale takes place on 24th November in Kyalami, South Africa.
Reactions to the Suzuka 10 Hours:
Herbert Schnitzer jr. (BMW Team Schnitzer Team Principal):
“Overall, we can be pleased with the way this weekend went. We had a fantastic time yesterday as Augusto Farfus claimed pole position. However, we knew that a race in such hot conditions would be tough. We suffered some setbacks during those ten hours, but all things considered I am proud of my team and what we achieved here in Suzuka.”
Augusto Farfus (#42 BMW M6 GT3, BMW Team Schnitzer, 5th place):
“On the one hand, it was great to see us have such a good pace with the BMW M6 GT3 here in Suzuka and battle for a podium finish. However, we were stuck behind other cars after the drive-through penalty and we couldn’t deploy this car’s speed during the final hours of the race. It is almost impossible to overtake on this circuit. That is a great shame. Nonetheless, I would like to thank BMW and the team for a strong BMW M6 GT3 and a good performance this weekend.”
Martin Tomczyk (#42 BMW M6 GT3, BMW Team Schnitzer, 5th place):
“Things looked really good for a long time. We were able to defend our pole position through the early hours of the race and we were still in the top three after that. Ahead of the race, we had been prepared for tyre wear in high temperatures on this circuit, but it was not a major issue. We were able to keep pace with the leaders, but then we had that unfortunate pit stop error that caused the drive-through penalty. That meant we had no chance of claiming that deserved podium finish at the end.”
Nick Yelloly (#42 BMW M6 GT3, BMW Team Schnitzer, 5th place):
“Unfortunately, a communication error during the pit stop when I got into the car saw me drive off just a little too early. That was the reason for the drive-through penalty. I am very sorry for the whole team that this happened. The team did a great job and I was able to learn a lot from my experienced team-mates. A lot of things were new to me here in Suzuka and I learned a great deal.”
Niclas Königbauer (Walkenhorst Motorsport Team Manager):
“Of course, that was hard to take. You travel halfway around the world to Suzuka, prepare really well, enjoy a great qualifying session and a superb start – basically, everything is going perfectly. But then you suffer a major setback. Unfortunately, we have been dogged by bad luck this season and that was the case again here. But this streak will come to an end at some point, and our luck will change. The drivers and the team have really earned a reward. Perhaps they will be able to enjoy that at the season finale in Kyalami. We will remain as motivated as ever.”
Christian Krognes (#34 BMW M6 GT3, Walkenhorst Motorsport, DNF):
“Unfortunately, we were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Two slower cars collided ahead of me and Augusto Farfus in Spoon Corner and a Nissan spun around. Augusto got through but the Nissan somehow came back onto the circuit at such a strange angle that it hit the rear of my car. It was just a matter of a few centimetres that cost us the race. I am really sorry for the entire team, as they provided us with a really strong car.”
Nick Catsburg (#34 BMW M6 GT3, Walkenhorst Motorsport, DNF):
“I had a great start to the race. Martin Tomczyk and I were able to defend first and second positions and it looked like everything was going according to plan. It is a huge shame that we were involved in such an unlucky collision with a spinning car. We had plenty of bad luck in Bathurst and now it’s happened again. On both occasions, we were in a promising position in the race. That is especially disappointing for the team.”
Mikkel Jensen (#34 BMW M6 GT3, Walkenhorst Motorsport, DNF):
“We would have liked to have rewarded the team for their hard work, but unfortunately it was not to be. That is hard to swallow, as we saw our BMW M6 GT3 was very competitive and could have crossed the line in a great position. Despite all of that, it was a great experience for me personally to drive on the legendary Suzuka circuit for the first time.”