The series of successes for the BMW M6 GT3 has come to an end at the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (BEL). After victories at the 24-hour race on the Nürburgring (GER), the 8 Hours of Indianapolis (USA) and in numerous GT races around the world, the classic endurance race in the Ardennes came to an early end for both Walkenhorst Motorsport cars. In the Pro-Am category, the Boutsen Ginion #10 BMW M6 GT3 crossed the line in fifth place.
The Spa weekend had begun promisingly for Walkenhorst Motorsport. After setting good times in practice the #34 BMW M6 GT3, with Nick Catsburg (NED), Augusto Farfus (BRA) and Philipp Eng (AUT) at the wheel, ended pre-qualifying on Thursday in first place. However, the BMW M6 GT3 did not cope so well with the difficult weather conditions in qualifying and both Walkenhorst Motorsport crews missed out on Super Pole.
Both cars gradually worked their way up through the field in the opening stage of the race, but then Catsburg in the #34 BMW M6 GT3 collided with another car after about three hours, causing severe damage to the radiator and the front end. Catsburg returned to the circuit after a long break for repairs, but his race came to an end after 107 laps.
The #35 BMW M6 GT3 – driven by David Pittard (GBR), Martin Tomczyk (GER) and Nick Yelloly (GBR) – retired in the early hours of the morning after Tomczyk suffered a serious accident on the fast Blanchimont turn. Thankfully, the BMW works driver emerged from the incident without injury.
In the Pro-Am category, the Boutsen Ginion #10 BMW M6 GT3 gave a solid performance to claim fifth place in its class. BMW works driver Jens Klingmann (GER) shared driving duties with Karim Ojjeh (KSA), Benjamin Lessennes (BEL) and Giles Vannelet (FRA) in the cockpit of the car with livery designed by artist Peter Halley.
Reactions to the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps:
Niclas Königbauer (Walkenhorst Motorsport Team Manager): “You have race weekends when everything goes well and then you have race weekends when a lot of things all go against you. We had a weekend like that here at Spa. There were some minor technical problems, bad luck and misunderstandings in the race, which then led to accidents. Primarily, I am glad that the BMW M6 GT3 is such a safe car, as Martin Tomczyk’s accident was pretty bad. From a sporting point of view, we are unhappy with how it went at Spa. We put a lot of work into the preparations and of course we were hoping for a different result. Nonetheless, this event is still one of the highlights of our season and we are already looking forward to competing again with the BMW M6 GT3 in the Intercontinental GT Challenge, at Kyalami in December.”
Nick Catsburg (#34 BMW M6 GT3, Walkenhorst Motorsport, DNF): “It was a really unfortunate situation that led to my accident. We were in a group of cars and the one in front of me unexpectedly started to go very slowly. I hit it hard and damaged the front of our BMW M6 GT3 very badly. I think that I may not have gauged the situation correctly at that moment in time. I am very sorry about that for the whole team. For me personally, this marks the end of a series of very successful races but I hope that we will be able to go back on the attack at Kyalami.”
Martin Tomczyk (#35 BMW M6 GT3, Walkenhorst Motorsport, DNF): “The conditions were very treacherous. It had started to rain again after the safety car restart in the early hours of the morning. We only had a halfway-dry racing line and it was very slippery outside of that. I lost the rear end a bit on the way into Blanchimont, so I had to open up the steering and went over onto the wet part of the track. From that point on, I had no chance. Luckily, I wasn’t injured but the car was very badly damaged. That is a great shame for the whole Walkenhorst team, especially as the team’s other car had already retired early.”
Jens Klingmann (#10 BMW M6 GT3, Boutsen Ginion, 5th place Pro-Am class): “Together with the 24-hour race on the Nürburgring, the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps is the toughest and the most wonderful event for a GT racer. I had a huge amount of fun during my ten hours in the cockpit on my debut in the Pro-Am category. We had some problems with tyre damage that knocked us back a bit but, all in all, the team and my driving team-mates did a super job.”