On 26th/27th September, the 24 Hours Nürburgring (GER) celebrates its 50th anniversary – and BMW joins the celebrations as the first winner. It’s also the 50th anniversary of the first of 19 BMW overall wins in total at the Nordschleife. For this very special race, BMW M Motorsport and the BMW M customer racing teams will be represented by a squad that is as strong as it is diverse – from the battle for the overall win with the BMW M6 GT3, through to the BMW Junior Team in the BMW M4 GT4 and the BMW M2 CS Racing media car, to the numerous customer teams that will take on the ‘Green Hell’ challenge in a wide range of BMW racing cars.
“The history of the 24-hour race is inextricably linked with the history of BMW at the Nordschleife. Even though we are celebrating our joint anniversary in the challenging context of the pandemic, the incredibly great importance that this track and this event has for us is clear once again this year,” said BMW Group Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt. “I am proud that we represent more than one quarter of the entire starting grid with a total of 27 BMW racing cars registered. And the variety of our entry is particularly remarkable. We are battling for our 20th overall win with the BMW M6 GT3, see the BMW Junior Team and some BMW M customer racing teams in the BMW M4 GT4, are using the new BMW M2 CS Racing as the media car and can also look forward to seeing numerous other BMW racing car models in action in the hands of our customers. I’m really excited for the racing that we will see there, and I’d like to thank all the track marshals in advance who are making this event possible through volunteering. It’s a real shame that we are unable to celebrate this anniversary in the usual way with hundreds of thousands of fans around the Nordschleife.”
BMW M6 GT3: Tom Blomqvist makes comeback for ROWE Racing.
As announced a few weeks ago, five BMW M6 GT3s will contest the highest class, SP9, four of which will be battling for the overall win in the PRO category. BMW Team Schnitzer, ROWE Racing and Walkenhorst Motorsport are deploying top-class drivers, including numerous BMW works drivers. Tom Blomqvist (GBR) has joined the ROWE Racing squad. He represented the team from St. Ingbert (GER) last year. Now the opportunity has arisen to make use of his speed and experience once again. Blomqvist shares the cockpit of the #98 BMW M6 GT3 with the three BMW DTM drivers Lucas Auer (AUT), Philipp Eng (AUT) and Marco Wittmann (GER). Eng will also be in action in the #99 sister car alongside Nick Catsburg (NED), Alexander Sims (GBR) and Nick Yelloly (GBR). BMW Team Schnitzer will be represented by Augusto Farfus (BRA), Jens Klingmann (GER), Martin Tomczyk (GER) and Sheldon van der Linde (RSA). In Walkenhorst Motorsport’s pro car, Mikkel Jensen (DEN), Christian Krognes (NOR), Jordan Pepper (RSA) and David Pittard (GBR) will take it in turns at the wheel.
Martin Tomczyk (BMW Team Schnitzer): “First off, we are happy that we are even able to have the race in the context of the pandemic. Many thanks to the organisers and helpers for this! We have a great team and great drivers at Schnitzer. I think we are well-prepared, and our goal is definitely the overall win. The last BMW success was ten years ago now. It would be nice to be able to repeat this on this anniversary. Unfortunately last year’s painful experience showed us just how long 24 hours can be, which is why our approach for this year is to not make any mistakes, keep driving and then see where we are in the closing phase. This race is a major challenge every year, but I am confident that we will master it.”
Sheldon van der Linde (BMW Team Schnitzer): “I think we have a fantastic squad with BMW Team Schnitzer and my three driver colleagues. Like some of the other BMW DTM drivers I will be competing at the Nürburgring three weekends in a row, which will no doubt be demanding. But I have never won the 24-hour race. That is definitely high up on my bucket list so I’m looking forward to the race.”
Philipp Eng (ROWE Racing): “I’m really looking forward to the 24-hour race and would like to thank BMW for placing their trust in me to drive in two cars. It will be my first time. On one hand it means more work and driving time, but on the other hand it means double the chance of a good result. I think that we’re well-prepared. Now it will be all about coming through well and not making any mistakes.”
Marco Wittmann (ROWE Racing): “For us as DTM drivers, naturally September is demanding with four race weekends in a row. Personally, I always try to use the Mondays and Tuesdays to try and recharge my batteries a bit. That works quite well for me, and as a racing driver your favourite place to be is behind the wheel anyway. I’m really looking forward to the upcoming DTM weekend first and then the 24-hour race.”
Lucas Auer (ROWE Racing): “I’m incredibly excited about my first 24-hour race at the Nordschleife but I’m also a little bit nervous if I’m being honest. The track is absolutely legendary. I can’t wait to get started.”
Tom Blomqvist (ROWE Racing): “I’m delighted that the opportunity arose to represent BMW M Motorsport at the 24 Hours Nürburgring again. I’ve been involved in this fantastic race a few times already, I know the BMW M6 GT3 and the team so I think that I have enough experience to be able to help the team. We have a very strong team with which we will hopefully be able to get a good result.”
Mikkel Jensen (Walkenhorst Motorsport): “We have high expectations for the 24-hour race. We have an incredibly strong package for a customer team and have shown good performances in the races in the Nürburgring Endurance Series season to date. I myself and Jordan Pepper as the new driver in the team might be lacking a bit of experience, but we should still be well-positioned. I’m looking forward to my first real 24-hour race at the Nordschleife after I didn’t get to drive much last year.”
BMW Junior Team: Debut at wheel of the BMW M4 GT4.
For the BMW Junior Team newly formed in 2020, the 24-hour race is the first major highlight of their training at the Nordschleife. Since the pandemic situation has allowed, Dan Harper (GBR), Max Hesse (GER) and Neil Verhagen (USA) having been living together in a shared house right at the Nürburgring and have been taking part in every race in the Nürburgring Endurance Series (NLS). They completed the first three races in the BMW M240i Racing to get their Nordschleife licence. Harper and Verhagen celebrated a class win. Since the fourth round of the NLS, they have been in action in the Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW M4 GT4, in which they will also contest the 24-hour race.
Max Hesse: “We are preparing intensively for our first 24-hour race and can’t wait for it to get started. We’re currently in the simulator and practising driving at night, for example. We’re also being coached on when and what is best to eat during the race. Lots will be new to us, and the main thing will be to make optimum use of the training in the days leading up to the race and then try to get through the 24 hours without making any mistakes or coming into contact with any of the other cars.”
Dan Harper: “All three of us have our first 24-hour race ahead of us and are incredibly excited. I think that there is no better place for a 24-hour debut than the Nürburgring. We are aware of the huge challenge ahead of us. Just the 6-hour race a few weeks ago was a big step for us. Now to drive 24 hours non-stop will be an incredible experience. We have prepared ourselves as well as we could. But for me personally the biggest challenge will be driving at night for the first time in my role as a racing driver. I’ll have to get used to it very quickly.”
Neil Verhagen: “It will also be my first time driving at night. I’m super excited because I’ve heard from many other drivers that it’s very special. As part of our preparation we are planning a twelve-hour test in our simulator at home. Each of us will drive stints in the night and we will test what it’s like adjusting our sleep patterns. During our training sessions, in addition to fitness we also worked on our concentration and vision in the dark. Now I hope that we’ll be able to make use of it all in the race.”