The BMW teams completed the final endurance test ahead of the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring (GER) this weekend, the six-hour qualifying race. ROWE Racing, Schubert Motorsport, Walkenhorst Motorsport and the BMW Junior Team were in action with their BMW M6 GT3s, as were countless other BMW teams in the various classes. The dress rehearsal for the Eifel classic took place in glorious weather, and the teams used the weekend to make preparations in race conditions. The 49th running of the 24-hour race on the Nordschleife will be held on 5th/6th June.
The best-placed BMW car in the final classification of the 24h qualifying race was the #1 BMW M6 GT3 of ROWE Racing. The quartet of drivers Nick Catsburg (NED), Nick Yelloly (GBR) John Edwards (USA) and Philipp Eng (AUT) ended the race in P9, but then moved up into eighth place. Their ROWE Racing team-mates in the #98 BMW M6 GT3 had originally crossed the finish line in this position, but the car with Connor De Phillippi (USA), Martin Tomczyk (GER), Sheldon van der Linde (RSA) and Marco Wittmann (GER) at the wheel was disqualified for violating the minimum number of laps per driver regulation.
The #20 BMW M6 GT3 of Schubert Motorsport finished in P14. Jens Klingmann (GER), Jesse Krohn (FIN) and Stef Dusseldorp (NED) shared the cockpit of this car. Right behind them in P15 was the BMW Junior Team in the #77 BMW M6 GT3. Dan Harper (GBR), Neil Verhagen (USA) and Max Hesse (GER) are set to contest their first 24-hour race in the GT3 car. They will be supported by Augusto Farfus (BRA) in the cockpit. The #102 BMW M6 GT3 of Walkenhorst Motorsport with Sami-Matti Trogen (FIN), Jörg Müller (GER) and Jakub Giermaziak (POL) finished the race in P18, which also saw them make the top 20.
There were also several wins for the BMW teams in the individual classes. Walkenhorst Motorsport won the SP10 class with the #74 BMW M4 GT4. This car was driven by Lance Boicelli, David Thilenius and Charlie Postins (all USA). The other class winners in BMW cars included Adrenalin Motorsport Team Alzner Automotive (CUP 5 with the BMW M2 CS Racing and V2T with the BMW 330i GS20) and AVIA Sorg Rennsport (BMW M240i).
Markus Flasch, CEO of BMW M GmbH, also competed in the six-hour qualifying race. He shared duties in the #241 BMW M2 CS Racing with Matthias Malmedie, Jörg Weidinger und Nikolaus Schelle (all GER). Adrenalin Motorsport Team Alzner Automotive was responsible for the car’s outing. The quartet finished in fourth place of the CUP 5 class.
Reactions to the qualifying race for 24h Nürburgring:
Philipp Eng (#1 BMW M6 GT3, ROWE Racing): “The race was a lot of fun. The car felt great, we crossed off everything on our to-do list and completed our programme. We also compared tyres. The atmosphere in the team is really good, we’re all helping each other out and are very open with each other. It’s a lot of fun, and now we are all really looking forward to the big race at the beginning of June.”
Marco Wittmann (#98 BMW M6 GT3, ROWE Racing): “Aside from the subsequent penalty, our race was relatively unspectacular. We started from eighth on the grid and crossed the finish line in the same position. But our focus this weekend was on sorting a few things out for the 24-hour race. I was at the wheel for the qualifying session and a lap of the Nordschleife on your own without any traffic is great fun. You can really push the car to the limit, and that is every racing driver’s ultimate dream. Now we are all really looking forward to the 24-hour race and are hoping for a good result there.”
Jens Klingmann (#20 BMW M6 GT3, Schubert Motorsport): “The weekend was hugely important to us, because we are still a little behind in terms of experience, so we needed every kilometre. We weren’t focussed on the result, we viewed the race as a test race, tried to optimise our pace further, specifically for a long run, and to fine-tune the set-up. We learned a great deal and I am confident that we can improve our package even more in the coming weeks, and I’m really looking forward to the 24-hour race.”
Neil Verhagen (#77 BMW M6 GT3, BMW Junior Team): “I am quite happy with the weekend. We definitely learnt a lot in the 24h qualifying race, which was the main point for us. There are a lot of things that we still need to smoothen out before the 24-hour race, and getting the data and all the experience from this six-hour race definitely will help us a lot to go and push in the big one. We had a very strong car and if we get everything together then the result will come. So there is a lot of positives to take away, and now the team and us will work hard to make sure we are prepared as well as possible for the 24h Nürburgring.”