Thursday, July 7, 2022

24h Nürburgring: BMW M Motorsport teams unable to convert the strong pace of the BMW M4 GT3 into good results.

Nürburgring. The 50th edition of the 24-hour race at the
Nürburgring (GER) represented the conclusion to the anniversary week
for BMW M GmbH. However, the race debut for the BMW M4 GT3 did not
go as well as hoped. The BMW M Motorsport teams showed strong pace,
but both cars, from ROWE Racing and the BMW Junior Team, retired
after accidents. Schubert Motorsport was in fourth position until
just before the finish, only to be forced to retire due to
overheating in the engine compartment. BMW M GmbH provided a
spectacular support programme around the classic endurance race,
which took part in front of an impressive 230,000 fans, to mark its
50th birthday – the highlight being the BMW M Race of Legends on Saturday.


The crew in the Schubert Motorsport #20 BMW M4 GT3, Jens Klingmann
(GER), Jesse Krohn (FIN), Alexander Sims (GBR) and Niklas Krütten
(GER), retained their composure during the hectic early hours of the
race. The four deliberately took as few risks as possible, working
their way up gradually from 20th on the grid once the race had calmed
down a little. They were within sight of a podium for a long period,
but around 30 minutes before the finish Krohn was forced to head for
the pits due to overheating in the engine compartment. The only BMW M4
GT3 to cross the line was the #102 from Walkenhorst Motorsport, a long
way back after several breaks for repairs.

Starting from second place, the ROWE Racing #99 BMW M4 GT3 battled
for the lead, as did the BMW Junior Team in the #72 car. However, BMW
Junior Dan Harper (GBR) first collided with a slower car when lapping
and consequently had to spend 30 minutes in the pits to repair the
suspension. Nick Yelloly (GBR) then suffered similar misfortune with
the #99 on the Grand Prix circuit as suspension damage ended his race.
The #98 car was in the hunt for first place into the night, but
Sheldon van der Linde (RSA) was forced to retire due to a problem with
the front-right suspension. After the long break for repairs, the BMW
Junior Team put on a strong recovery to return to the top 20, only for
Max Hesse (GER) to retire the damaged car after taking a spin.

BMW M Motorsport teams celebrated wins in the individual classes. FK
Performance Motorsport triumphed with the BMW M4 GT4 in SP10,
Adrenalin Motorsport by Alzner Automotive with the BMW 330i in VT2 RWD
and with the BMW M240i Racing in the Cup class, Schubert Motorsport in
the BMW M2 CS Racing Cup category, Hofor Racing with the BMW M3 e46
GTR in SP 6 and Rockstar Games by Viken Motorsport & Tomcat with
the BMW 325i in V4.

BMW M Race of Legends thrills fans with plenty of action.

As part of the 50th anniversary celebrations, BMW M GmbH provided
some spectacular highlights for fans in the support programme. Most
notably, the BMW M Race of Legends, which featured BMW M Motorsport
heroes from the past and BMW M CEO Franciscus van Meel dishing up
top-quality racing action on Saturday in the BMW M2 CS Racing cars on
the Grand Prix circuit. Cheered on by the fans, no mercy was shown as
they executed overtaking manoeuvres, drifts, battles and some
accidents before celebrating together on the podium. Victory went to
Bill Auberlen (USA), who fought his way through the entire field after
starting from last place on the reverse grid, having posted the best
time in qualifying. Second and third places went to the BMW DTM
legends Johnny Cecotto (VEN) and Steve Soper (GBR). Guest of honour,
the former FIA President Jean Todt waved the chequered flag and joined
Franciscus van Meel and Jochen Neerpasch, co-founder of BMW M GmbH, to
hand over the trophies. Spectators were drawn to the BMW M Race of
Legends paddock throughout the weekend and the drivers lost count of
the autograph requests.

The support programme included more highlights in the M Town event
space in the Ring Boulevard, where BMW M Motorsport drivers and
management appeared regularly for interviews and autographs. Directly
opposite, the M Showroom housed BMW M Motorsport race cars from
various eras for the fans to admire in detail. The BMW M parade
featured around 40 BMW M vehicles on a demonstration lap of the
Nordschleife, greeted enthusiastically by the many spectators at the campgrounds.


Reactions to the 24h Nürburgring.

Franciscus van Meel (CEO BMW M GmbH): “First and
foremost, we wanted to celebrate with our fans this weekend. I think
they more than deserved that after two years away due to the pandemic.
We managed to do so with an impressive programme of events. The motto
was: 50 years of motor racing, 50 years of emotion, 50 years of BMW M,
50th edition of the 24h Nürburgring. Virtually the whole area was
sporting the M colours. Our set-up in the paddock, at the circuit and
at the Ring Boulevard was fantastic and the fans loved it. It was an
honour for me personally to be able to compete against the legends in
the BMW M Race of Legends. The race was really exciting for us and
also for the fans. The announcement of the reverse grid just before
the race certainly contributed to that. Of course, the legends really
had the bit between their teeth. Congratulations to Bill Auberlen on
the win. Unfortunately, the 24-hour race then didn’t go as we had
hoped. The car, the teams and the drivers all had the speed to reach
the podium. It is disappointing that we were unable to convert this
speed into fitting results. Congratulations to Audi on the overall win.”

Andreas Roos (Head of BMW M Motorsport): “Sadly, that
was a very disappointing race for us and we could have done
significantly better. Our expectations were high after the good,
intensive preparations saw us show good pace and record some top
results. It is particularly galling that we lost two cars early on due
to our own errors. We allowed ourselves to be influenced by the hectic
events on the track. There was nothing Sheldon van der Linde could do
about his accident. He had a problem with the front-right suspension.
Schubert Motorsport was in fourth place until just before the end, but
then struggled with overheating in the engine compartment. The very
positive aspect is that our new BMW M4 GT3 has shown that it has the
potential to win this race, being right up there in qualifying and in
the race. Many thanks to our teams, the engineers and the drivers for
their efforts! We are all highly motivated to go back on the attack
next year. Congratulations to Audi on their win.”

Jens Klingmann (#20 BMW M4 GT3, Schubert Motorsport, DNF):
“I think that the Nordschleife really did prove to be the
“Green Hell” for the BMW M Motorsport teams this time. Until just
before the end, we were in a good position. We lost a lot of time in
the morning after a slip-up when in the lead, but we were able to
battle our way back to within touching distance of third spot. A
podium would not have been a dream result, but would have been
pleasant consolation for the team. Not even making it to the chequered
flag after battling away from 23.5 hours is a bitter pill to swallow.
However, there are some positives for us and we will be back even
stronger next year to claim the 21st overall win for Munich.”

Nick Yelloly (#99 BMW M4 GT3, ROWE Racing, DNF): “Of
course, it’s disappointing to retire so early – for me, for the team
and for BMW M Motorsport. We entered the turn three abreast and once I
noticed that the Porsche was moving over from the far right, it was
too late to brake. Ultimately, it was my mistake. I am very sorry that
the team lost both cars. However, the BMW M4 GT3 is great to drive and
has huge potential. We will be back and I am sure we will win this
race sooner or later.”

Sheldon van der Linde (#98 BMW M4 GT3, ROWE Racing, DNF):
“The race actually went very well and we moved up plenty of
places. I felt good in my first night-time stint, but then this
accident was caused by a technical problem. The highlight of my
weekend was the lap in Top Qualifying 1. There was great pressure to
get us into Q2, as it is difficult to reach the front if you don’t
start in the top 20 but I drove a great lap. It’s a shame that the
weekend ended like it did, but that’s how it goes.”

Max Hesse (#72 BMW M4 GT3, BMW Junior Team, DNF): “A
disappointing weekend for us. It is a big shame for everyone at BMW M
Motorsport that we were unable to record any good results here on the
debut for the BMW M4 GT3. In the run-up, everything went well:
preparation, qualifying and the start of the race. We were always at
the front, but then Dan’s accident meant that we had no chance of a
good result. Nonetheless, the BMW M Team RMG did a fantastic job and
repaired the car quickly. Then I lost the rear end in ‘Mutkurve’ in my
second stint and wasn’t able to catch it. That was that. Finishing
empty-handed after all the preparations is really hard to take but we
will not stick our heads in the sand. Our team prepared a phenomenal
car and we still have a few races this season to make it better.”


Bill Auberlen (BMW M Race of Legends winner): “That
was so much fun! I had a superb time on the track with these guys. I
knew that Johnny Cecotto would be the toughest nut to crack – and he
did shove me into the gravel once. Once I passed him, I simply enjoyed
watching his duel with Steve Soper in the rear-view mirror. Overall, a
fantastic event from BMW M. Thanks for letting me be part of it!”


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