Second place for ROWE Racing and the BMW M4 GT3 at the Nürburgring 24 Hours.

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Nürburgring. The ROWE Racing team finished on the podium at
the 51st staging of the Nürburgring 24 Hours (GER). Dries Vanthoor
(BEL) crossed the line in second place in the number 98 BMW M4 GT3,
26.911 seconds behind the winning Ferrari. Vanthoor had alternated
at the wheel with Maxime Martin (BEL), Sheldon van der Linde (RSA)
and Marco Wittmann (GER) on their way to completing 162 laps. For
BMW M Motorsport, this was the first podium with the BMW M4 GT3 at
the endurance classic in the Eifel Mountains.

Starting from 31st on the grid, the quartet of drivers steadily
worked their way up the field in the opening hours of the race, and
were already in the top ten after the second round of pit stops.
Afterwards they were embroiled in a long-range battle with the
eventual winners, which saw the lead repeatedly change hands between
the two cars. The ROWE Racing crew made up a lot of ground on the
winning Ferrari due to a shorter final pit stop, but were ultimately
unable to close the gap.

The number 100 BMW M4 GT3 also made it to the end of the marathon at
the Nürburgring. The Walkenhorst Motorsport Pro-Am car, with drivers
Christian Bollrath (GER), Jörg Breuer (GER), Sami-Matti Trogen (FIN)
and Henry Walkenhorst (GER), came home 16th, which earned them fifth
place in the Pro-Am class.

It looked for a long time as though several BMW M4 GT3s would have a
say in the battle for overall victory. However, that all changed as
incidents occurred thick and fast in the early hours of the morning on
the 25-kilometre Nordschleife. 13 hours into the race, Connor De
Phillippi (USA), Philipp Eng (AUT), Augusto Farfus (BRA) and Nick
Yelloly (GBR) were forced to retire from the race in the second ROWE
Racing BMW M4 GT3, after De Phillippi collided with a slower car.
Shortly after, the BMW Junior Team hit trouble; the number 72 BMW M4
GT3 suffered more damage as the result of a puncture. BMW M Team RMG
spent a long time trying to repair the car and get it back out onto
the track. Eventually however, Dan Harper (GBR), Max Hesse (GER) and
Neil Verhagen (USA) had no choice but to retire, having spent much of
the race in the top three.

Walkenhorst Motorsport was also unlucky with its remaining SP9 cars;
on course for a top-ten finish in the seventh hour of the race, the
#101 BMW M4 GT3 was forced out after two crashes in close succession.
The race also came to a premature end for the number 102 car after an
accident in the early hours of Sunday morning. At the time of the
crash, the BMW M4 GT3 was running seventh.

This all means that BMW remains on 20 overall victories in “Green
Hell”. No other manufacturer can look back on a more successful
history at the 24-hour race. The last BMW win on the Nordschleife came
courtesy of ROWE Racing with the BMW M6 GT3 in 2020.

The BMW M4 GT4 Media Car was also denied a creditable result in the
SP10 class. Specialist journalists Jethro Bovingdon (GBR), Christian
Gebhardt (GER) and Guido Naumann (GER), together with BMW M test and
development engineer Jörg Weidinger (GER), were initially able to make
up a lot of ground in the first eight hours of the race. However, an
accident then required lengthy repairs before a second collision in
the 14th hour of the race forced the team out of the race for good.

Despite this, there was still cause for celebration in the SP10
class. The FK Performance Motorsport team took victory with the new
BMW M4 GT4. Christian Konnerth (GER), Maxime Oosten (NED), Lorenz
Stegmann (GER) and Miklas Born (SUI) crossed the finish line well
ahead of their closest rivals. Third place also went to an FK
Performance BMW M4 GT4. In the BMW M240i Racing class, first place
went to Adrenalin Motorsport Team Motec. GITI Tire Motorsport by WS
Racing took victory in the SP 8T class with the first-generation BMW
M4 GT4, while Adrenalin Motorsport also won the VT 2 class with the
BMW 330i. Hofor Racing triumphed in the SP 6 class with the BMW M3
GTR, and the number 542 BMW 325i came home first in the V4 class.

Reactions on the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring.

Franciscus van Meel (CEO of BMW M GmbH): “I was
thrilled by the atmosphere this 24-hour race provided. 235,000
spectators turned the race into a festival that is unrivalled in the
world of motorsport. The action on the racetrack was also gripping,
and I was delighted to see that we could stage a fantastic comeback
with the BMW M4 GT3 and ROWE Racing and fight for the win. Second
place is not quite the result we had hoped for in the end, but still
an excellent performance. Congratulations and a big thank you to
everyone! As always, it was also fantastic this year to see the entire
range of BMW M and BMW vehicles on the starting grid and at our
traditional M Corso before the race. BMW M and the Nürburgring are and
will remain closely connected. I’m already looking forward to
returning in the 2024 season!”

Andreas Roos (Head of BMW M Motorsport): “That was an
eventful 24-hour race for us. Second place with the #98 BMW M4 GT3 of
ROWE Racing is a fantastic result. Congratulations and a big thank you
to everyone! Our drivers did a flawless job and worked their way into
the leading group from outside the top 30. At the same time, I would
like to congratulate the Frikadelli Racing Team on a deserved victory.
Our other SP9 crews were also showing good pace and were in with a
chance of a podium finish. At times, we had four BMW M4 GT3s in the
top ten. However, the ‘Green Hell’ then struck back, particularly in
the night, and took out no fewer than four of our trump cards with the
#99 BMW M4 GT3 of ROWE Racing, #72 BMW M4 GT3 of the BMW Junior Teams,
and the two Walkenhorst Motorsport Pro cars. As such, the podium is a
nice way to finish and, above all, a worthy reward for the hard work
of all the teams, drivers, and the BMW M Motorsport employees. I would
also like to thank all the BMW teams who gave it everything and
produced some fantastic motorsport in the various different classes.
We were also able to make a statement with our new BMW M4 GT4. I
congratulate the FK Performance Motorsport team on victory and third
place in the SP10 class. Generally speaking, the 24-hour race was an
outstanding event in 2023 with a crowd and atmosphere, the likes of
which I have never experienced in my career. We will be back next
year, when we will again do our best to make it 21 overall victories.”

Hans-Peter Naundorf (Team Principal ROWE Racing):
“For us, the top priority is always to be capable of winning here –
and we were precisely that! We were always in contention for the
podium. The challenge we faced was not easy, but everyone involved did
a super job. We don’t know what we could have done better. The
drivers, particularly in the race, did a flawless job. You cannot but
admire the ability to come through from 31st on the grid to finish
runner-up, and to be in contention for the win for so long. That is a
really great effort. My team feels like a champion. It is a real
honour to stand on the podium here. That cannot be taken for granted.”

Maxime Martin (#98 BMW M4 GT3, ROWE Racing, 2nd
place):
“All in all, we had a strong race and, given our
starting position, that is a good result. The team did a perfect job
with the strategy. We were fast and consistent. However, I am also
pleased for Frikadelli Racing. Klaus and the whole team deserved it.
We can be happy with ourselves.”

Sheldon van der Linde (#98 BMW M4 GT3, ROWE Racing, 2nd
place):
“Simply getting through this race without any major
issues or incidents is a very good performance. We saw a lot of
crashes, particularly during the night. We wanted to survive that
phase without any issues – and we managed that. We were just lacking a
little bit of pace that would have allowed us to push for victory.
However, we still produced a flawless race.”

Dries Vanthoor (#98 BMW M4 GT3, ROWE Racing, 2nd
place):
“That was not an easy race. We gave it everything and
were ultimately rewarded with second place. Everyone did a fantastic
job. A lot happened in the race, and the traffic was very difficult at
times. Thank you to ROWE Racing and everyone at BMW M. We’ll go again
next year.”

Marco Wittmann (#98 BMW M4 GT3, ROWE Racing, 2nd
place):
“We can be extremely proud of ourselves. To challenge
for victory from the back row of our starting row, that is a very good
team effort. That goes for both the team and us drivers. Not once did
we make contact with another car. Although we did not quite have the
pace to take victory, we can be happy on the whole.”

Connor De Phillippi (#99 BMW M4 GT3, ROWE Racing,
DNF):
“The Nürburgring 24h was an eventful one this year.
Unfortunately in the early morning there was a light contact with a
slower car that made a sudden movement on the straight and ended our
race for the #99 crew. The team deserved a podium result and I’m sorry
to have not achieved that this year for them. Hopefully next year we
will have more luck on our side. Congratulations to our sister car on
the podium finish.”

Dan Harper (#72 BMW M4 GT3, BMW M Team RMG, DNF):
“Obviously I am a bit gutted about how it ended after a strong showing
especially during the night. We had a super-strong car that was very
nice to drive. It all went well until the end of my second double
stint, when we had our first problem. After that another problem arose
for Max, and we decided together with the team and BMW M Motorsport to
retire the car. This is very disappointing for everyone in the team.
They work so hard to prepare for this event. Up until our problems, we
were super-fast and in a strong position. I think all of us three
drivers did a very good job. It is a big shame for everyone.”

 

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