The BMW M4 GT3 has celebrated a top-three lock-out at the second race of the season in the Nürburgring Endurance Series (NLS). The four-hour race on the Nordschleife (GER) concluded with a spectacular finale between Augusto Farfus (BRA) and Max Hesse (GER). The result of a tight and enthralling battle was only confirmed in the closing metres. Farfus crossed the finish line in the ROWE Racing #99 BMW M4 GT3 ahead of the BMW Junior Team. The Brazilian shared the car with Connor De Phillippi (USA), who had secured pole position. Third place in the race went to the #34 BMW M4 GT3 from Walkenhorst Motorsport.
Events in qualifying had already hinted that it would be a good day for the BMW M Motorsport teams. De Phillippi and BMW Junior Dan Harper (GBR) put two BMW M4 GT3s on the front row of the grid. After the first stints from De Phillippi and Neil Verhagen (USA), a real battle then developed between the two cars in the race. The BMW Junior Team was in the lead, despite a drive-through penalty, but Farfus was able to overtake Hesse during a strong final stint. On the final lap, there was one more slipstream duel on the Döttinger Höhe as the two drivers went wheel-to-wheel in a tough but fair contest. Farfus was able to stay just in front, recording the first win for ROWE Racing with the new car. An equally strong performance saw the Walkenhorst Motorsport #34 BMW M4 GT3 with drivers Christian Krognes, Sami-Matti Trogen (both NOR) and Andy Soucek (ESP) cross the line in third place. Fifth place went to the second ROWE Racing car with John Edwards (USA), Sheldon van der Linde (RSA) and Marco Wittmann (GER) at the wheel.
Reactions after the race:
Andreas Roos (Head of BMW M Motorsport): “Of course, we are delighted with three cars on the podium. The BMW M4 GT3 displayed its great potential on the Nordschleife. The battle at the end was brilliant. I think that we showed what we can do, putting on a great performance for the fans. That was fantastic racing and was great fun for all concerned. We think that’s what it’s all about. In addition to the result, we also gathered some valuable experience in preparation for the 24-hour race.”
Augusto Farfus (#99 BMW M4 GT3, ROWE Racing): “We lost a bit as we were unlucky with the yellows and traffic. We were supposed to end the last stint ahead of the other BMW (sister car) but unfortunately we did not, so as I drove out of the pits I did feel to be like 15 or 20 seconds behind. Then I was just closing, closing, closing and at the first opportunity I had I just passed and pulled away. Max had just a fraction of a second to make a decision to go or not. I saw his hesitation and I went through, but unfortunately due to traffic I had a bad run to the last straight and had to defend because he came out flat, but that’s racing.“
Connor De Phillippi (#99 BMW M4 GT3, ROWE Racing): “What a great day for this car. It was the first time we drove with this new car on this track and the team did a fantastic job with the preparation, execution and strategy. My last stint was incredibly unlucky with traffic, but sometimes you get stints like that and it’s all about recovering. Augusto then drove like an absolute demon and made the move for the win. It’s great to have such incredible team-mates.“
Max Hesse (#44 BMW M4 GT3, BMW Junior Team): “The final laps were so, so tense. I had a bit of bad luck after the airfield and Augusto was able to overtake me there. I was able to stay with him and then he had a bit of bad luck going up to Döttinger Höhe. We were even briefly on the grass. However, I think we can be happy with that, especially as we also had a drive-through penalty. We have definitely made good progress since NLS 1 .”
Andy Soucek (#34 BMW M4 GT3, Walkenhorst Motorsport): “It was nice. It was our first proper race together as a team so Walkenhorst Motorsport had been preparing very hard and we have a really good bunch of people working behind us so I am extremely happy to be on the podium in our first race. The car was nice to drive, my team-mates did a mega job and I am still not so experienced here on the Nordschleife but I had a lot of fun.“