Bitter experience in the “Green Hell” for ROWE RACING in the iconic 24h race at the Nürburgring-Nordschleife
#98 BMW M6 GT3 hampered by a time penalty then a technical issue / Minor rear-impact collision with big consequences for the #99 car
St. Ingbert, 13th May 2018 – Instead of the desired maiden victory, it was to be a first double retirement: The 46th ADAC Zurich 24h Race ended prematurely and in disappointment for ROWE RACING. Making its eighth appearance in the race, the team from St. Ingbert arrived at the iconic Nordschleife as one of the hot favourites on the back of fine results earlier in the season. However, both BMW M6 GT3s failed to finish due to technical issues.
The magic of the black bonnet, with which the #99 car had taken victory in round two of the VLN and finished runner-up in the 24h qualification race, appeared to have run out at the highlight of the season. For the four BMW works drivers, Connor De Phillippi (USA), Alexander Sims (Great Britain), Jesse Krohn (Finland) and Martin Tomczyk (Germany), the race came to a premature end early on Saturday evening, following a chain of unfortunate circumstances. A minor collision caused radiator damage, which in turn damaged the engine, resulting in a retirement.
The #98 car, which featured two of last year’s runners-up – Nick Catsburg (Netherlands) and Richard Westbrook (Great Britain) – alongside BMW works drivers John Edwards (USA) and Tom Blomqvist (Great Britain), had opted for a different strategy and consequently led the race on several occasions in the early stages. The first set-back then came in the form of a 3:32-minute time penalty, before problems occurred with the electric throttle position. The result: another retirement.
“Unfortunately, that was not the 24-hour race we had hoped for. We were right up there with the leading group in terms of pace and had the fastest car in the field at times. That makes it all the more disappointing that incidents and technical difficulties prevented us from being involved in the battle for the top positions in the overall standings. That is bitter for everyone who worked so hard during the preparations and in the race”, BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt said.
ROWE RACING now moves on to the Formula 1 circuit in Silverstone, England, this weekend for round two of this season’s Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup.
Hans-Peter Naundorf, team principal ROWE RACING: “We are obviously all very disappointed. We have never had a result like that before at a 24h race. Up to now, we have always finished with at least one car. We lost the first car early on, due to a crash and the resulting damage, although we tried everything to keep the #99 car in the race. After that, we concentrated on the second car. However, what happened to that car over the course of two hours would have sufficed for three 24-hour races. Our team repeatedly found solutions and, despite everything, was still hoping for a top-ten result until the gremlin struck decisively. We would have liked to have flown the flag for BMW Motorsport here. Unfortunately, however, we were not granted that opportunity. Despite this, I am proud of our team and all our partners. We worked harder and better than ever before during the preparations, but our efforts went unrewarded. Thank you very much to everyone involved.”
John Edwards, #98 ROWE RACING BMW M6 GT3: “A retirement at a 24-hour race is always disappointing, but it is particularly painful when you would have been in with a chance of winning – and we were in with a chance. The BMW M6 GT3 was very fast in the first few hours, in which we led the race at times. I was very confident ahead of the rest of the race. Unfortunately, we then had issues.”
Connor De Phillippi, #99 ROWE RACING BMW M6 GT3: “I was the third car in a chain at the start of a Code 60 zone. The first car braked very early, which resulted in collisions behind it. I drove into the rear of the Audi in front of me and damaged the radiator on my car. We did not have any water pressure and I was unable to continue. I feel very sorry for the team and my team-mates.”