In the second race of the season in the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup, the BMW Junior Team gave an impressive recovery performance to finish the 1000-kilometre race at the Circuit Paul Ricard at Le Castellet (FRA) in fourth place. Racing on this circuit for the first time, Neil Verhagen (USA), Dan Harper (GBR) and Max Hesse (GER) qualified in 22nd place in the BMW M4 GT3. During the six hours of racing, faultless performances and great pace saw them move gradually up through the field. The ROWE Racing car with Nick Catsburg (NED), Augusto Farfus (BRA) and Nick Yelloly (GBR) at the wheel was in a promising position in the race, only to fall back after a punctured tyre.
The #98 BMW M4 GT3 started the race from twelfth place, but Catsburg swiftly moved up and was already in seventh when he had to return slowly to the pits with a puncture, losing one lap in the process. In the end, Catsburg, Farfus and Yelloly crossed the line in eleventh place after posting some great lap times and showing fighting spirit to make up ground after their bad luck.
Meanwhile, the BMW Junior Team sparkled with consistently good pace and great overtaking manoeuvres. Starting driver Verhagen moved up several places before Harper put the #50 BMW M4 GT3 into the top ten. Final driver Hesse took the wheel in sixth place and then passed the Audi of Frederic Vervisch (BEL) in an impressive duel. The Juniors were able to move into the superb fourth place as one of the cars ahead of them struggled. Overall, Verhagen, Harper and Hesse moved up a total of 18 positions.
The next race of the season is also the greatest highlight when on 30th/31st July, ROWE Racing will be competing with both BMW M4 GT3s at the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (BEL).
Reactions to the race:
Hans-Peter Naundorf (Team Principal ROWE Racing): “That was not an easy race weekend and we had plenty of work to do. However, everyone in the team and the drivers did what they had to do. Qualifying did not go as we had anticipated but that is down to the lack of experience with the new car and the new tyres. The race then showed again you can make a lot of progress by keeping errors to a minimum and maintaining a good base speed. This applied in particular to the BMW Junior Team. They implemented our instructions very well and were rewarded with a great fourth place. By and large, both cars managed to stay out of trouble in the race, but unfortunately the #98 had to deal with some unexpected tyre problems due to debris on the track. Nonetheless, it was a great way to round off a really intense first half of the season and now we can take a break for a few days.”
Dan Harper (#50 BMW M4 GT3, 4th place): “We are very happy with this fourth place – that is a brilliant result! We had really good pace, especially when it got dark and the track temperature dropped. Many thanks to the ROWE Racing team and both of my driving teammates, Neil and Max! We did a superb job together and are delighted with all those points. It’s a shame that our other car had the puncture. The lads could have been on course for a podium.”
Nick Catsburg (#98 BMW M4 GT3, 11th place): “We really had a very good car in the race. The balance was brilliant. Unfortunately, we then had some bad luck with the tyre damage but we did post some fast lap times after that, and finished eleventh. Together with fourth place for the BMW Junior Team, that’s a good result. We worked well as a team and now we will concentrate on setting up even better at Spa-Francorchamps.”