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Nürburgring. The perfect start to the season for ROWE Racing: BMW M works drivers Dries Vanthoor and Maxime Martin (both BEL) won the opening race of the Nürburgring Endurance Series in the #99 BMW M4 GT3. After four hours of exciting racing, Vanthoor took the chequered flag with a lead of 6.5 seconds. The BMW Junior Team came home fifth in the #44 BMW M4 GT3 run by BMW M Teams RMG. The number 34 Walkenhorst Motorsport car started from pole position but was forced to retire shortly before the finish.
A total of five BMW M4 GT3 lined up on the Nordschleife for the 68th ADAC Westfalenfahrt. As well as the winning car, ROWE Racing also ran the number 98 BMW M4 GT3. That car started from third place on the grid, but was unable to complete the full race distance, as the two drivers, Vanthoor and Martin, focussed on the better-placed #99 car. The other ROWE Racing drivers are in action this weekend in Sebring (USA) in the 12-hour race in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Having started from ninth place, the members of the BMW Junior Team and BMW M works drivers Dan Harper (GBR), Max Hesse (GER) and Neil Verhagen (USA) found themselves delayed in the pack after a slight collision, and ultimately crossed the finish line fifth. Jakub Giermaziak (POL) secured pole position for Walkenhorst Motorsport. However, his team-mate Andy Soucek (ESP) immediately lost several positions at the start. The #34 BMW M4 GT3 was running fifth until shortly before the end of the race, but was then forced to retire. BMW M works drivers Jake Dennis (GBR) and Thomas Neubauer (FRA) shared the driving duties in the #35 car. They finished 39th after suffering technical issues.
The new BMW M4 GT4 also started the season with a victory. FK Performance Motorsport and the trio of Michael Schrey, Thorsten Wolter and Nick Wüstenhagen (all GER) triumphed in the SP10 class.
Quotes on the race:
Andreas Roos (Head of BMW M Motorsport): “Congratulations to the whole crew on this fantastic start to the season on the Nordschleife, and the great job done during the winter preparations! Congratulations also to Maxime Martin and Dries Vanthoor, who took victory on their first appearance with the BMW M4 GT3 in the NLS. The BMW Junior Team also started the season with a good result. And then there was also the pole position for Walkenhorst Motorsport – let’s hope we continue this way until the 24-hour race.”
Hans-Peter Naundorf (team principal ROWE Racing): “I can swap ‘Welcome to the team’ for ‘Welcome to the podium, Dries and Maxime!’ They both had a superb debut with us in the team. The race was the perfect start to the season, although it was closer than it perhaps looked. There were a lot of crashes and Code 60 phases on the track, which made it tiring and demanding. However, both drivers did a perfect job and we don’t have a single scratch on the cars. As we only had two drivers at the track today, we had to decide whether to just make up the numbers of go for the win. We decided to go on the offensive and, after one and a half stints, put all our eggs in one basket – the better-placed car – and took the #98 out of the race. The success shows we made the right decision.”
Maxime Martin (#99 BMW M4 GT3, ROWE Racing, 1st place): “That is a dream result. It was the first time in the BMW M4 GT3 on the Nordschleife for both of us. Dries is totally new to BMW M Motorsport, I am returning. There was just the two of us in two cars – and yet we still won in the end. That is perfect!”
Dries Vanthoor (#99 BMW M4 GT3, ROWE Racing, 1st place): “Everything was new here for Maxime and me, but the car is superb on the Nordschleife. I am excited to see how it gets on in the 24-hour race. The Audi behind me was pretty strong. I then pushed hard and tried to get clear of it on the final lap. With a little fortune, I was able to open a larger gap thanks to some traffic.”
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