For the BMW M Motorsport teams and drivers, the next big highlight of the endurance season is just around the corner: the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (BEL) on 30th/31st July. ROWE Racing Team fields two BMW M4 GT3 in the Pro class, and will hope to challenge for the overall victory. The BMW Junior Team is making its Spa debut in the number 50 car. Walkenhorst Motorsport and ST Racing also line up with a total of three cars in the Cup classes, as the BMW M4 GT3 makes its first appearance in the biggest GT3 race in the world. BMW is the record winner of the 24h Spa-Francorchamps, with 24 victories to its name.
At the wheel for ROWE Racing will be the regular drivers, who have already contested the first two races of this season’s Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup. Sharing the driving duties in the #50 BMW M4 GT3 will be Juniors Dan Harper (GBR), Max Hesse (GER) and Neil Verhagen (USA). This trio recently narrowly missed out on a podium, finishing fourth in Le Castellet (FRA). Nick Catsburg (NED), Augusto Farfus (BRA) and Nick Yelloly (GBR) start in the #98 car. Catsburg won the 24h Spa-Francorchamps in the BMW Z4 GT3 in 2015. ROWE Racing tasted success the following year with the BMW M6 GT3.
In 2018, Walkenhorst Motorsport took overall victory. This time, the team’s two BMW M4 GT3 start in the Gold and Bronze Cup classes. BMW M works driver Jens Klingmann (GER) is joined by Americans Michael Dinan, Robby Foley and Richard Heistand in the Gold Cup. In the Bronze Cup, which is exclusively for amateur drivers, team-principal Henry Walkenhorst will share the wheel with Jörg Breuer, Friedrich von Bohlen and Mario von Bohlen (all GER). In the Silver Cup, the ST Racing team is making its Spa debut. Sharing the #28 BMW M4 GT3 are Samantha Tan, Nick Wittmer (both CAN), Harry Gottsacker (USA) and Maxime Oosten (NED).
Throughout the whole weekend, BMW M Motorsport will display the new BMW M4 GT4, which will be in action around the world from the 2023 season. Fans can also check out the “M Town” paddock area, while regular talks are held on the stage. The 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps starts at 16:45 on Saturday, 30th July.
Quotes ahead of the 24h Spa-Francorchamps:
Andreas Roos (Head of BMW M Motorsport): “Spa-Francorchamps is the next debut at one of the really big 24-hour classics for the new BMW M4 GT3. With a field of more than 60 GT3 cars, this race is hugely challenging. BMW M Motorsport has an outstanding record at this classic and, in ROWE Racing and Walkenhorst Motorsport, the last two victorious BMW teams are both set to start. With the BMW M4 GT3, we are well positioned to back up the success of its predecessor. Since the Nürburgring 24 Hours, we have worked hard to make the car more stable and to keep improving it. We are confident that that work will pay dividends at Spa-Francorchamps.”
Hans-Peter Naundorf (Team Principal ROWE Racing): “We are very much looking forward to appearing in Spa again. This race is a major challenge for the teams and drivers, and a mega show for the fans. This year, the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps once again has a top-class field. Our goal for the race is actually very simple: ROWE Racing aspires to finish on the podium in every 24-hour race. And we obviously also want to add to our unique record at this circuit. To do this, however, the reliability of our new BMW M4 GT3 must play ball, which is always a challenge in the first year with a new car. BMW M Motorsport and we have worked hard on this in recent weeks. As a team, we have prepared as meticulously and intensively for this race than ever before.”
Nick Catsburg (#98 BMW M4 GT3, ROWE Racing): “Every year, this race is one of my absolute favourites – I am obviously delighted with my overall victory in 2015. Together with Augusto Farfus and Nick Yelloly, we have a very fast and experienced trio of drivers in our car. The team has an impressive record, with Spa victories in cars from various manufacturers. With this in mind, we should have a good chance of competing at the very front. There have been a few changes to the circuit, which could be an issue in the race. I’m thinking of gravel on the track, for example. It will therefore be all the more important to avoid any trouble and drive a clean race. I can hardly wait.”
Max Hesse (#50 BMW M4 GT3, ROWE Racing): “We are really looking forward to our first 24-hour race with ROWE Racing and the big challenge at Spa-Francorchamps. Our last race in Le Castellet went well, with fourth place. At the recent 24h Portimão, where we tested the new BMW M4 GT4, we learned a lot more about good practice during a 24-hour race. Based on the impressions gained during the Spa test, we seem to have good race pace. We can definitely still improve a little in qualifying. I will also have my first outing in the simulator, in the Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series. I will try to perform well and possibly score a few points for the team.”
Jens Klingmann (#34 BMW M4 GT3, Walkenhorst Motorsport): “We have a very strong package in the Gold Cup. Walkenhorst Motorsport has won the race in the past, and my US team-mates are all very fast. As such, our goal has to be to win our class. The BMW M4 GT3 has now completed many kilometres of racing, but the Spa-Francorchamps circuit will still be a real test over 24 hours. The pre-race test went very well for us, and we are confident heading into the weekend.”