- Heavy rain on parts of the Nordschleife turn the first hour of the race into a tyre lottery.
- Martin Tomczyk puts on an impressive chasing performance in the ROWE Racing #98 BMW M6 GT3.
- Three BMW M6 GT3s now in the top five on a dry track
The BMW M Motorsport teams managed to avoid any accidents during the turbulent opening stage of the Nürburgring 24 Hours (GER) and are battling for top positions after four hours of racing. Heavy rain on parts of the Nordschleife and dry stretches in in other areas made tyre selection extremely difficult. Both ROWE Racing and Schubert Motorsport displayed a knack for making the right choice. The three cars for the two teams are now in the top five on a much drier track. The chasing performance given by Martin Tomczyk (GER) was particularly impressive, as the starting driver in the #98 BMW M6 GT3 from ROWE Racing moved up from 25th on the grid to third place.
BMW Junior Team endured some poor luck in the opening stage however. Together with BMW Team RMG, Augusto Farfus (BRA) decided to switch to wet-weather tyres immediately after the formation lap. That proved to be a premature decision, as the expected rain did not appear straight away. An additional pit stop pushed the #77 BMW M6 GT3 further back. The best-placed Walkenhorst Motorsport car is the #102 BMW M6 GT3. Like the BMW Junior Team car, it is still in the top 20.
The #241 BMW M2 CS Racing, featuring BMW M CEO Markus Flasch (AUT) at the wheel, lost time due to a break for repairs and is in fifth place in the CUP5 class.
Reactions from the drivers:
Nick Catsburg (#1 BMW M6 GT3, ROWE Racing): “I think I aged by about five years in those two hours after the start. With the type of wet-weather tyres that we had put on, it was extremely difficult to keep the car on the track through those wet passages. That’s why I was very careful and lost some time in that phase. Things got better as the track dried out. The main thing is that I was able to get the car back and we are still right in the race.”
Martin Tomczyk (#98 BMW M6 GT3, ROWE Racing): “I had an unbelievable amount of fun during my chase. It was my first race in the rain on the Nordschleife for about a year but our preparations with the car were outstanding and I was able to show that you are not on the scrapheap at 39 years of age. I have the experience and I know where the standing water is most likely to be in these conditions, and where I have to be careful.”
Jens Klingmann (#20 BMW M6 GT3, Schubert Motorsport): “I am proud that we were able to manage this opening stage so well. It was very difficult out there, especially during the first laps after our switch to wet-weather tyres. We did not risk it all, as you have it all to lose during the opening phase of such a long race. Unfortunately, we lost a few seconds during the pit stop but there is still a long way to go in the race. We will catch up.”
Augusto Farfus (#77 BMW M6 GT3, BMW Junior Team): “Unfortunately, we made the wrong decision at the start. We thought that it would rain a bit more right from the word go, and we switched to wet-weather tyres after the formation lap. We took a risk that sadly did not pay off. The pace was good in my second stint, but we had already lost a lot of ground by that point. That is a real shame, but there is plenty of racing left and we will give it our all.”