ROWE RACING plagued by bad luck in round one of the Blancpain GT season in Monza’s “Royal Park”
Both BMW M6 GT3s exit race early on / BMW Motorsport Junior Ricky Collard forced to wait for debut / BMW DTM driver Marco Wittmann also reduced to spectator
St. Ingbert, 22nd April 2018 – The “Royal Park” in Monza did not prove to be a happy stomping ground for ROWE RACING as it started its campaign in the Blancpain GT Series. The iconic Formula 1 circuit to the north of Milan was the venue for the opening round of the Endurance Cup, but the three-hour race came to a premature end for both the BMW M6 GT3s run by the team from St. Ingbert. As a result, neither two-time DTM champion Marco Wittmann nor BMW Motorsport Junior Ricky Collard, who, alongside Jens Klingmann and Finland’s Jesse Krohn, is one of the three regular drivers in the #98 BMW M6 GT3 for the five endurance races in this Blancpain season. The young Brit must now wait until the second endurance race on 20th May on home soil in Silverstone to make his debut.
As was expected, the BMW M6 GT3 struggled at the high-speed Monza circuit. With its long straight and chicanes, the 5.793-kilometre track does not feature the quick combinations of corners that better suit the car. Furthermore, the field of over 50 GT3 cars was a very strong one. As such, Collard, Klingmann and Krohn had to settle for 30th place in qualifying, despite the #98 car being just over eight tenths of a second off pole pace. The #99 car, in which Wittmann shared the driving duties with Britain’s Alexander Sims and Dutchman Nick Catsburg, qualified 32nd with an almost identical average time between the three drivers.
In the race, the anticipated fightback from start driver Catsburg came to a premature end when two cars in front of him spun and, despite taking immediate evasive action, the #99 was still involved in a collision. The rear suspension was damaged in the crash, forcing Catsburg to retire the car at the end of the fourth lap.
Krohn enjoyed a more promising start in the #98 car. The flying Finn made up nine positions to end the opening lap in 21st place. He had climbed to 17th place by lap 26, when the engine suddenly died on him in the Parabolica, the famous final corner in Monza. Krohn could do nothing but roll helplessly back to the pits.
Once it has returned from Italy, the team from St. Ingbert will set about preparing for the highlight of the season: the ADAC Zurich 24h race at the Nürburgring on 12th/13th May.
Hans-Peter Naundorf, team Principal ROWE RACING: “It is a shame that the trip to Monza did not pay dividends for us. It was the fifth tough week in a row for the team, but everyone still did an excellent job. Our drivers were flawless and we got everything we could out of our package. However, there is nothing you can do about a collision like that suffered by the #99 car. The #98 could possibly even have been looking at a top-ten finish were it not for the engine problem, which occurred without warning. We must all catch our breath now, then prepare well for the 24h race at the Nürburgring.”