The first 24 Hours of Daytona (USA) proved to be a tough test for the BMW M Motorsport teams and the new BMW M4 GT3. After a race full of challenges, BMW M Team RLL’s two MOTUL BMW M4 GT3s crossed the finish line in seventh and ninth places in the GTD-PRO class. Both cars suffered issues with their underbodies early in the race. Work had to be carried out on the rear diffusor multiple times which cost a lot of time and saw both cars drop well down the field. Turner Motorsport made an impressive fightback in the GTD class and was running in the top five until they were forced to retire after an incident in the night.
“That was a tough race,” said Mike Krack, Head of BMW M Motorsport. “We wanted to keep the number of mistakes to a minimum and, if possible, to get all the BMW M4 GT3s through the race without any incidents. Unfortunately, we did not quite manage that. The GTD car run by Turner Motorsport was unable to finish the race after contact, and both of BMW M Team RLL’s cars encountered problems and ended the race in seventh and ninth place. Although we did a lot of test kilometres during the development phase, this showed that an outing under race conditions poses additional challenges. We must work together to improve the reliability, operations and performance, as we were unable to match the pace of the leaders at any point in the race. We will now analyse all the findings to ensure that we return to the front again at the 12 Hours of Sebring. I would like to congratulate Team Pfaff Motorsports on its victory in the first race of the new GTD-PRO class. Today was my last race outing with BMW M Motorsport. I would have liked to have bid farewell with a top result. I want to thank all my colleagues, the teams and drivers for the trustworthy cooperation over the past few years.”
Sharing the driving duties in the #25 MOTUL BMW M4 GT3 were John Edwards, Connor De Phillippi (both USA), Augusto Farfus (BRA) and Jesse Krohn (FIN). They finished seventh in their class after 698 laps. The second car, with Philipp Eng (AUT), Sheldon van der Linde (RSA), Marco Wittmann (GER) and Nick Yelloly (GBR) at the wheel, came home ninth in the GTD-PRO class.
In the GTD class, the #96 Turner Motorsport BMW M4 GT3 started from the back of the field but they went on the offensive in the first few hours and managed to fight their way back into the top five. Alternating in the cockpit were Bill Auberlen, Robby Foley, Michael Dinan (all USA) and BMW M works driver Jens Klingmann (GER). The car was damaged in a collision in the night however, and consequently had to be parked up in the garage.
BMW M Team RLL and Turner Motorsport now have roughly six weeks until the second highlight of this season’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Sebring (USA). They will be joined there by Paul Miller Racing with a BMW M4 GT3 in the GTD class.
Focus on the BMW M anniversary and BMW M Endurance Challenge.
On the support programme for the Rolex 24 At Daytona, BMW M Motorsport and BMW of North America marked 50 years of BMW M with a host of highlights. Immediately before the start of the race, there was a parade of vintage and current BMW M cars, including a BMW M1 from 1980. Three race cars that made history by winning IMSA races were on display at the Rolex 24 Heritage Exhibition in the Daytona Fan Zone: the BMW 3.0 CSL from 1975, the 2015 BMW Z4 GTLM, and the BMW M8 GTE that triumphed at Daytona in 2019.
The BMW M Endurance Challenge took place on Friday. The four-hour race, round one of this season’s IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge, was started by Timo Resch, Vice President Customer, Brand and Sales at BMW M GmbH, in his role as Grand Marshal. Victory went to Team RS1. Turner Motorsport also impressed with its two BMW M4 GT4s and made it onto the podium, with Bill Auberlen and Dillon Machavern (both USA) finishing third. Their team-mates Robby Foley, Michael Dinan and Vincent Barletta (all USA) were fifth.
Quotes after the 24 Hours of Daytona:
Bobby Rahal (Team Principal BMW M Team RLL): “That was a long day for us. It was the first race with the new car for our team. Prior to this, we had only had one short test at Daytona in December 2021 and were a little surprised that we did not have the problems back then that have slowed us down here in Rolex 24. A big thank you goes to my team, the drivers, BMW M Motorsport, and all those who never gave up during the past 36 hours and tried to get the best possible out of the car. We now have a very long to do list which we must work through in order to challenge at the front in Sebring.”
John Edwards (#25 MOTUL BMW M4 GT3, 7th place GTD-PRO class): “That was a difficult race for us from the start. We did not have the necessary pace, and then came the issues with the diffusor. The result is obviously not what we wanted, but I am very proud of the guys, who never gave up. Seventh place still earned us some decent points in the overall standings. Hopefully we can up our game in Sebring and take a step forward in the championship.”
Marco Wittmann (#24 MOTUL BMW M4 GT3, 9th place GTD-PRO class): “That was not the race we were hoping for. Despite that, we never lost our fantastic team spirit. After the early problems, we tried to view the race as a test, gain experience and get the car through to the finish. It is obviously a shame that we lost an awful lot of time, first through the damage to the diffusor and then later through a puncture and its consequences. Nevertheless, we have a lot to build on looking ahead to the coming races. Hopefully things will run smoother in the future!”
Jens Klingmann (#96 Turner Motorsport BMW M4 GT3, DNF GTD class): “For the IMSA season, the 24 Hours of Daytona is pretty much the equivalent of the Super Bowl – the highlight of the season and a really tough test at the same time. There were four of us in one Turner Motorsport car for the first time, and we had fought back strongly to make it into the top five until our retirement. My team-mates were all basically very happy with the driveability, user-friendliness and ergonomics of the BMW M4 GT3. That gives me reason to be positive. It is obviously a shame that we had to park the car up after our contact, but we showed that we have the potential to compete at the very front of the field in our class.”