Three races, three wins for the BMW M4 GT3: the BMW Junior Team has completed the hat-trick for BMW M Motorsport in the Nürburgring Endurance Series (NLS). On Saturday, BMW M works drivers Neil Verhagen (USA), Dan Harper (GBR) and Max Hesse (GER) won the third race of the season on the Nürburgring Nordschleife (GER) in the #44 BMW M4 GT3 from the BMW M Team RMG.
The BMW M works drivers Sheldon van der Linde (RSA) and Dries Vanthoor (BEL) crossed the line in fourth place, just missing out on the podium in the #98 ROWE Racing BMW M4 GT3. Van der Linde had recorded the best time in qualifying on Saturday morning, celebrating his first pole position on the Nürburgring Nordschleife.
The BMW Junior Team had started the four-hour race from second place on the grid. The trio was on the chase from the word go and a strong performance and perfect strategy saw Verhagen, Harper and Hesse move into the lead. After four hours in dry conditions (rain only made an appearance in the final minutes of the race), they crossed the finish line around 17 seconds ahead of Wittmann and Martin.
Wittmann had started the race from seventh place but was quickly on course for the podium after an outstanding start in the #99 BMW M4 GT3. Martin then battled his way to second spot on the rostrum. Van der Linde and Vanthoor also fought at the front from pole position, only to fall back a little as the race progressed. The #35 BMW M4 GT3 from Walkenhorst Motorsport, driven by the BMW M works drivers Jens Klingmann (GER) and Jake Dennis (GBR) alongside Thomas Neubauer (FRA), was in seventh position during the closing stages but then retired due a technical defect on the final lap.
Next weekend, the Nürburgring Nordschleife will be the location for the qualifiers for the 24-hour race. BMW M works drivers Connor De Phillippi (USA) and Erik Johansson (SWE) will be competing there in the BMW M4 GT3 for the BMW M Team RMG. The 24-hour race itself will be held on 20th/21st May.
Reactions to the race:
Andreas Roos (Head of BMW M Motorsport): “Three wins in three races – perfect results on the Nordschleife for the BMW M4 GT3 this season! A big thank you to our successful BMW M Motorsport teams and all colleagues at BMW M Motorsport for these excellent preparations for the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring which we have essentially completed now. Unfortunately, we will not be able to take part in the qualifiers with our regular driver line-ups next weekend, as they clash with the season-opener in the GT World Challenge Europe. So, it was all the more important for us to have completed the three NLS races without major problems and collected a lot of valuable data. The fact that the BMW M Team RMG has now followed in the footsteps of ROWE Racing and Walkenhorst Motorsport by celebrating a victory shows just how strong all of our teams are. Congratulations to BMW M Team RMG, Neil, Max and Dan on this strong performance, as well as to ROWE Racing, Marco and Maxime on their strong second place. We have completed the preparations for the 24-hour race very well with three wins in a row. But we all know that the Eifel classic on the Nordschleife is a very tough race where anything can happen. We are now trying to prepare as best we can in the remaining time.”
Max Hesse (#44 BMW M4 GT3, BMW M Team RMG): “It was definitely a good race. Our pace was already good this morning and we set up well in qualifying. All three of us were very pleased with the car. The team and BMW M Motorsport did a good job. The race went really well. We struggled a bit early on but then were able to make progress again. The conditions were a bit tricky on the final two laps, but we are all really happy to finish with a one-two result for BMW M Motorsport.”
Marco Wittmann (#99 BMW M4 GT3, ROWE Racing): “The highlight for me was clearly taking only two corners to move up from seventh to third place from the start. My reaction was really good and I was able to get into a good position through the first corners. It’s always nice to be the starting driver and it’s even better to move up by a few places. In the first stint, we did struggle a bit with the balance of the car and with tyre wear. We then made a few minor adjustments for the second and third stints, which made the car significantly more consistent. It was also good preparation for the 24-hour race and allowed us to see how the car behaves. That’s what we’re here for, and it’s even better when we manage to reach the podium.”
Sheldon van der Linde (#98 BMW M4 GT3, ROWE Racing): “I’m very happy with my first pole on the Nordschleife. It took me quite long obviously, four years. I’m very happy because it shows that the team has done a lot of work in the three preparation races to take the car to a very good level. So, I’m very happy where we are before the 24-hour race. Obviously the main target is to be fully prepared for the 24 hours which I think we are. Today in the race we had a good showing running constantly in the top five. The BMWs in general look very strong. It’s very promising for us as a brand. I’m very much look forward to the most important one which is at the end of next month with my team-mates Dries, Maxime and Marco where we finally drive together and not against each other.”
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