ROWE RACING drives to first victory with BMW Motorsport at the Nordschleife with a perfect strategy after a nightshift
BMW works drivers Connor De Phillippi and Jesse Krohn win the second VLN race / Black bonnet is a lucky charm / First VLN success for ROWE RACING since 2015
St. Ingbert, 7th April 2018 – A big day for ROWE RACING: in the second VLN race of the year, the St. Ingbert team celebrated their first victory at the Nürburgring-Nordschleife with BMW Motorsport – after a huge rebuild effort during the night before the race. Courtesy of a perfect race strategy, the two BMW works drivers, Connor De Phillippi from the US and Jesse Krohn from Finland, were the big winners of the 43rd DMV 4-Stunden-Rennen, after the mechanics completely rebuilt the #99 BMW M6 GT3, only finishing at two o’clock in the morning. The car had been damaged in a heavy accident on Friday. There was just no time left to apply the white colour scheme to the bonnet, but in the end the unusual black bodywork proved to be a lucky charm.
With this win, a waiting period of 959 days ended for ROWE RACING. The last time that the German anthem was played in the Eifel mountains to honour the team was on 22nd August 2015. Connor De Phillippi started from seventh on the grid. After four hours of racing – this time with bright sunshine in the “Green Hell” – Jesse Krohn crossed the line with an advantage of 8.789 seconds over the closest rival.
After the great effort in the night, the key to success was an alternative race strategy by the team. Krohn completed his third pit stop only three laps before the finish, being the last driver of the leading group to do so, defending the lead he had taken in the meantime. On the following two laps, the “flying Finn” even increased his advantage and remained unchallenged in the final kilometres to claiming victory. It was Krohn’s first win with ROWE Racing, as it also was for De Phillippi, who had only his second appearance with the team.
35 days before the season highlight, the 46th ADAC Zurich 24h-Rennen on 12th/13th May, ROWE RACING proved themselves impressively by being at the very front at the Nordschleife. The big goal for the “Eifel marathon” is to improve by one position compared to last year’s second place, and to celebrate the long-awaited first overall victory in the 24h race.
The #98 sister car, driven by British-American duo Richard Westbrook/John Edwards, had the speed to compete at the very front, but an electrical problem forced BMW works driver Edwards to pit after the second lap. After a 25-minute long repair stop, the team used the remaining time for test and set-up work under race conditions.
The dress rehearsal for the 24h race is taking place in the Eifel mountains this coming weekend. In the six-hour long qualifying race for the 24 hours on 15th April, the best five cars can secure a place in the important Top-30 qualifying for the 24h race. The #98 car missed a chance of a guaranteed top-30 slot by only 61-thousands of a second in Saturday’s timed practice for the second VLN race, and finished fifth. The #99 car was seventh, missing out by just seven-tenths of a second. Another ten slots will go to the ten fastest cars in the Top-30 qualifying for the 24h qualifying race.
Hans-Peter Naundorf, team pricipal ROWE RACING: “What an unbelievable weekend! After yesterday’s crash we weren’t sure if we would be able to rebuild the car, but there is no surrender in this fantastic team. All our mechanics worked flat out until 2am to get the car ready. I want to thank every single member of the team for this fantastic job! Time was just too short to get a new white bonnet but the black one did a great job. If you never give up and keep pushing you can make it through difficult times. It’s a great feeling to be up there on the podium again after a long time and a great motivator for the team. During the race our strategists and drivers performed really well. Connor and Jesse didn’t make a single mistake and consistently drove at a very high level. Our #98 car had the potential to be as quick as the #99 car but unfortunately we had an electrical problem right at the beginning of the race. After having repaired the car, which took quite a lot of time, we used the rest of the race and the great weather to gain valuable experience with set-up and tyres ahead of the 24h race.“
Jesse Krohn, #99 ROWE RACING BMW M6 GT3: “It’s mega racing here in this weather, with so many people watching and with the team that did such a fantastic job. It’s a great preparation and very good motivation for the team. I’m really happy for the whole crew; they worked really hard this weekend. It wasn’t easy but the team did a great job with the strategy – and it was a great drive by Connor.”
Connor De Phillippi, #99 ROWE RACING BMW M6 GT3: “It is my second race in the BMW M6 GT3 here at the Nordschleife and my first win with my new family at BMW. It feels really great. I’m very happy for the team because they worked very hard. We didn’t get the result we wanted in VLN 1 but we bounced back – with a win. We have been strong over the entire race and even if we were unlucky with the Code 60s, we managed to fight our way back to the front.”