Spectacular overtaking manoeuvres from ROWE RACING at the VLN season-opener as the team enjoys a successful start to the Nordschleife season
Great debut for BMW works drivers Connor De Phillippi and John Edwards / Tenth place for the #98 BMW M6 GT3 / Bad luck as tyre damage stops the #99 car
|St. Ingbert, 24th March 2018 – ROWE RACING celebrated a successful start to the 2018 Nordschleife season with some fast laps and impressive overtaking manoeuvres. After good performances in qualifying allowed them to start from sixth and ninth positions, the team from St. Ingbert finished in tenth place with the #98 BMW M6 GT3 in the 64th ADAC Westfalenfahrt, the first race of the VLN Endurance Championship at the Nürburgring. A top 10 finish could also have been on the cards for the #99 car, but tyre problems suddenly put paid to those ambitions about one hour before the end of the race.
Up to that point, BMW works driver Connor De Phillippi (USA) had put on a good debut performance for the ROWE RACING team in the #99 car. The winner of last year’s ADAC Zurich 24h race took over behind the wheel from Britain’s Alexander Sims and put on a great show on the Nordschleife with some spectacular and well-prepared overtaking manoeuvres in heavy traffic. He passed the car on to Finland’s Jesse Krohn, who had to park the car at trackside after a sudden loss of tyre pressure just after entering the Nordschleife. Attempting to drive the car slowly back to the pits for nearly 20 kilometres may well have caused more serious damage.
De Phillippi’s compatriot and BMW team-mate John Edwards also delivered an equally convincing debut performance. As the final driver, taking over from Dutchman Nick Catsburg and Britain’s Richard Westbrook, Edwards was always in attack mode and claimed the top 10 finish for his team right at the end. During the last lap of the four-hour race, he moved alongside the tenth-placed car at the entry to Döttinger Höhe and refused to back down at top speed for several kilometres, before outbraking his competitor to take the position coming into the Hohenrain chicane.
Both ROWE RACING cars had been on good form during qualifying on Saturday morning. This had started late due to fog, which then the start of the race by 39 minutes. The #99 car was in sixth place, just 1.6 seconds off pole position, while the team’s second car recorded the ninth-best time.
The next event on the Nordschleife awaits in two weeks’ time. The second VLN race of the year, the 43rd DMV 4-hour race, will take place on 7th April.
Hans-Peter Naundorf, ROWE RACING team principal: “Overall, that was a very good start to the 2018 season for us. I was particularly happy with the debuts for Connor De Phillippi and John Edwards. Both of them have settled into the team right away. They are really likeable guys, and extremely fast. Connor fought some great battles, while John’s persistence in #98 secured tenth place at the end, although we had tried out some strategic stuff earlier on with the car. The #99 car was well-placed in the top 8 for some time until we had that unexpected tyre problem. The tyre had probably collected some debris during the lap and then lost all pressure within just a few hundred metres. It would have made no sense to drag the car back to the pits and risk damaging more parts of the car, as this would have meant a lot of additional work for us to get it fixed up before the second VLN race in two weeks’ time. Overall, the new Evo package for the BMW M6 GT3 did really well on the Nordschleife. It was a step forward for us, but the other teams put on a hell of a performance today.”