Walkenhorst Motorsport battled for the podium with both BMW M6 GT3s at the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (BEL), but their strong performance went unrewarded. Both cars retired during the night. The #35 BMW M6 GT3, with Martin Tomczyk, Timo Glock (both GER) and Thomas Neubauer (FRA) at the wheel, was damaged in a collision. The #34 BMW M6 GT3 suffered a technical issue. That car was shared by Sheldon van der Linde (RSA), Marco Wittmann (GER) and David Pittard (GBR).
When night fell after the opening stage with periods of heavy rain, the #35 was on track to the podium in third place. A collision occurred shortly before midnight, however, while Tomczyk was lapping another car and the left front suspension broke. After a repair break, the #35 returned to the track but then had to retire. The #34, which successfully fought its way back up the field after tyre damage early on, was then in line for a podium finish, but Pittard was forced to park the car at the edge of the track at around half past three in the morning when the car lost drive.
The #10 BMW M6 GT3 of Boutson Ginion Racing, which contested the Pro-Am Cup, crossed the finish line in 35th position. Jens Klingmann (GER), Karim Ojjeh (KSA), Jens Liebhauser (GER) and Yann Zimmer (SUI) took turns at the wheel of the car.
Quotes from the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps:
Niclas Königbauer (Team Manager Walkenhorst Motorsport): “Obviously, it is a bitter disappointment. We were up there fighting for the podium with both cars. The drivers and the whole team were highly motivated, and we saw that we had the pace in the race, but sometimes things work out differently than you hope. The fact that two unfortunate situations meant we didn’t finish with either car makes us very sad – particularly as it was the BMW M6 GT3’s farewell race here at Spa-Francorchamps.”
Sheldon van der Linde (#34 BMW M6 GT3, Walkenhorst Motorsport): “It’s a very bitter pill to swallow after such a strong start to the weekend. We were up there in every single session and I honestly think we had all the ingredients to win this race but unfortunately we had to retire the car early in the morning. It’s a big shame, especially as both cars were out. It hurts twice as much when you are in such a good position and know you have a strong package and all you need to do is to bring it home. But Spa is such a hard race to win, you need so much luck and you have so many different factors involved that all need to fall into place and unfortunately that wasn’t the case this year.”
Marco Wittmann (#34 BMW M6 GT3, Walkenhorst Motorsport): “Obviously, it is a disappointing outcome for us, especially seeing as both cars retired. We had incredibly strong pace and were in the position of being able to battle for the podium or even the win. After tyre damage in the opening stage, we battled our way back up through the field gradually, and I handed the car over to David in third place. But then we had to retire. It’s really sad because we had a strong car and wanted to commemorate the BMW M6 GT3 with a different result in its final 24-hour race at Spa. But that’s motorsport for you.”
David Pittard (#34 BMW M6 GT3, Walkenhorst Motorsport): “I am obviously very disappointed for us in both the #34 car and the #35 car. Walkenhorst Motorsport had prepared two front-running cars but then unfortunately both had issues while running in the top three. Unfortunately, that is endurance racing and you always have to expect these things but it makes it all the more painful when you are running so close to the front. A big thanks to all the team for all their efforts to make the car so quick and put us in such a competitive position. Unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be this year for Walkenhorst Motorsport and BMW.”
Martin Tomczyk (#35 BMW M6 GT3, Walkenhorst Motorsport): “It’s a shame that both cars retired. Everything was going really well for us in the #35, we had a strong pace, the car was good and I was faster than the two leaders in my stint. I was within reach of them but then the collision happened while overtaking. That brought the 24-hour race to an end for us. It was a real shame, but these are the kind of things that happen in motorsport, however bitter they may be. Now we’re focussing on the next race, which will hopefully turn out better.”
Timo Glock (#35 BMW M6 GT3, Walkenhorst Motorsport): “Both cars retiring was a real shame for the whole team. But that’s 24-hour races. Our car was really good, we were in the top three, had a flawless race with strong stints, had no track limit warnings and nothing. Before the accident we were at a very, very good level and were in a really good position for getting a strong result. Martin and Thomas drove fantastic stints, and I was also very pleased with mine. I had good pace and worked the car up into the top three. I felt very at ease in the car.”
Thomas Neubauer (#35 BMW M6 GT3, Walkenhorst Motorsport): “It was really heartbreaking to see both our BMWs retiring from the race. We all had a really strong pace and everyone, the drivers, Walkenhorst Motorsport and BMW did a great job this weekend. That is why it’s even tougher to finish like this. But we showed that we were fighting for the top positions, and now we just need to keep our head high and move on to the next race. A big thank you to Walkenhorst Motorsport and BMW for providing such an amazing car. It was so much fun driving this car. It was not the way we wanted to finish the last 24 hours of Spa for the BMW M6 GT3 but it is what it is. Motorsport can be an amazing sport and very ruthless at the same time.”