ROWE RACING celebrates double podium after heart-stopping finale to dress rehearsal for 24h race
John Edwards and Jesse Krohn in the #99 BMW M6 GT3 just miss out on victory and finish second / Team's second car reaches third place despite time penalty
St. Ingbert, 19th May 2019 – ROWE RACING celebrated a good dress rehearsal for the highlight of the season on the Nordschleife, recording a double podium success in the 24h qualification race at the Nürburgring. In the #99 BMW M6 GT3, the BMW works drivers John Edwards from the USA and Finland’s Jesse Krohn only missed out on the chance of victory a few minutes before the end of the six-hour race, finishing in second place behind a BMW competitor. Connor De Phillippi from the USA, Britain’s Tom Blomqvist and Danish driver Mikkel Jensen also reached the podium, finishing third in the team’s #98 car despite a time penalty. However, the team from St. Ingbert still has room for improvement for the 47th ADAC 24-hour race on 22nd/23rd July.
The ROWE RACING cars had started from third and eighth positions on the grid but both lost a little ground in the early phase of the race. In the #98 car, Tom Blomqvist nearly spun out on turn two, causing him to fall back. The damp conditions had prompted the team to play it too safe with the choice of tyres. The #99 car switched to dry tyres after the first lap, followed by the second car one lap later.
From that point on, both cars put on a strong chasing performance. After the #99 car took the lead for the first time on lap eight, John Edwards and Jesse Krohn were able to defend this for some time, interrupted only by pit stops. The #98 car was in third position for much of the race, until a 1:32-minute time penalty was applied due to an illegal overtaking manoeuvre during a yellow-flag phase. This pushed the car down to sixth place. However, final driver Connor De Phillippi was able to reclaim the third podium spot on the penultimate lap.
At this point, Krohn was still in the lead but 20 minutes before the end, this had shrunk to just a few tenths of a second. The “flying Finn” held off the closest challenger in another BMW for two more laps, but by the start of the penultimate lap, it was clear that he was no longer able to hold out until the finishing line.
Hans-Peter Naundorf, ROWE RACING team principal: “That was a real thriller today, but unfortunately it wasn’t a perfect ending for us. We lost some time at the start as we did not have the right tyres on the first couple of laps. But everyone dug deep and gave their all. So, a double podium is not such a bad result. However, we still have some work to do as we prepare for the 24h race and we will be working with our partner BMW Motorsport to optimise the car further. The penalty for the #98 car was justified. We made a mistake there.”
Jesse Krohn, #99 ROWE RACING BMW M6 GT3: “Of course, I am a bit disappointed to have lost the race after being in the lead. But to be honest, the car that appeared from behind was going too fast for me to be able to hold it off. John and the team did a good job but we weren’t quite good enough. Things are looking good for a BMW top-three shut-out at the 24h race. That was perfect preparation for the big race and I am looking forward to it.”
John Edwards, #99 ROWE RACING BMW M6 GT3: “It’s a shame to lose after being in the lead for so long. But in the end, the car chasing us was simply faster than we were. It was good to come in for the first tyre change so early, as this meant were one of the first cars on slicks and that won us a lot of time. Whether it’s in the VLN, at the qualification race or at the 24h race, the races at the Nürburgring are all sprint races from start to finish. Winning or losing time at any point can be decisive.”
Connor De Phillippi, #98 ROWE RACING BMW M6 GT3: “Third place is OK, as we didn’t have a perfect race. We made an error and received a time penalty, but we are still on the podium. That is a good result. We can still find a bit more performance for the 24h race. Then we will return and hopefully we will be two positions higher up.”
Mikkel Jensen, #98 ROWE RACING BMW M6 GT3: “That was my first proper race in dry conditions on the Nordschleife. Previously, I had only had a few laps in VLN1 and then the rain in VLN3. We had a pretty good pace and got to grips well with our tyres.”
Tom Blomqvist, #98 ROWE RACING BMW M6 GT3: “I had light contact on the first lap and almost spun around, so that lost me a few places. We then split the strategy, which wasn’t ideal for me. Nonetheless, I was able to move up a few positions again. The car is fast, but we still need a bit of fine-tuning. And of course, a 24h race without any errors.”