Strong showing in the “Green Hell”: BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS finished second at the Nürburgring 24 Hours (DE). After 156 laps, the number 25 BMW Z4 GT3 crossed the line at the 43rd running of the endurance classic just 40.729 seconds behind the winning car. It was the closest finish in the history of the event since 1970. Maxime Martin (BE), Lucas Luhr (DE), Markus Palttala (FI) and Richard Westbrook (GB) shared the driving duties over the course of the 24 hours and, like the team, produced impressive performances. In the end, however, they just came up short of what would have been a 20th overall victory for BMW.
BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS repeated its result from 2013, when it finished the runners-up with the BMW Z4 GT3 – again with Martin at the wheel. The second BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS car also claimed an excellent result in front of 200,000 spectators: Dirk Adorf (DE), Augusto Farfus (BR), Nick Catsburg (NL) and Jörg Müller (DE) were at the wheel of the number 26 car and narrowly missed out on a podium finish, coming home in fourth place. Catsburg clocked the fastest lap of the entire race on lap 120, with a time of 8:18.690 minutes.
The number 17 BMW Z4 GT3 of the Walkenhorst Motorsport team, driven by Felipe Laser (DE), Michela Cerruti (IT), BMW USCC driver John Edwards (US) and Daniel Keilwitz (DE), came home sixth to complete a strong BMW showing. The sister car, the number 18, crossed the finish line in 15th place. In contrast, BMW Sports Trophy Team Schubert endured a luckless race: both the number 19 and the number 20 BMW Z4 GT3s were forced to retire following crashes.
“Over the past 24 hours we have seen virtually everything that makes this endurance classic so enthralling,” said BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt. “In a thrilling race, we eventually finished an excellent second and came within a whisker of winning. That is a fantastic result for the BMW Z4 GT3 on its last works-assisted outing – especially given the strong opposition. Although we did not quite get our 20th overall victory, the combination of a flawless job by the team and drivers, and a robust, mature car kept the race extremely exciting right through to the finish. Our quartet of drivers, who worked perfectly with each other, deserve particular mention: Lucas Luhr, Maxime Martin, Richard Westbrook and Markus Palttala never let anything knock them off their stride – even in some extremely difficult conditions. They were fast when they had to be, but reined themselves in when necessary. They did a very good job. The second BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS car also had a very good race. It dropped back a bit due to some problems during pit stops, but was still able to claim a good result.”
“Although we are all pleased about the great overall result, I feel particularly sorry for BMW Sports Trophy Team Schubert today. The team also did a very good job – but it just goes to show how quickly your luck can change here in the Eifel Mountains. Two sudden showers, two scary moments for Claudia and Dirk, and suddenly you are denied any chance of winning. The Walkenhorst team also enjoyed a fantastic race: they also had a flawless race with the number 17 car and finished an excellent sixth. Another great performance came from the Sorg Rennsport team in the BMW M235i Racing Cup: 25th place overall – that is not to be sniffed at. And our media BMW M235i Racing was also flawless. The drivers showed incredible consistency and ultimately came home 42nd overall. I would also like to highlight the extraordinary backdrop to this race: the great fan community created a genuine festival atmosphere. Although I have been coming here for many years, I really noticed it this year. And that is despite the tragic events in the run-up to the race. However, we saw that the measures put in place were effective, thanks in no small part to the discipline shown by the competitors. At this point, we would like to dedicate our podium finish to the spectator who died a few weeks ago. Congratulations to the Audi WRT team.”
The BMW M235i Racing Cup class, which featured a strong field of 14 cars, saw Michele Di Martino (DE), Moritz Oberheim (DE), Kevin Warum (DE) and Torsten Kratz (DE) of the Securtal Sorg Rennsport team emerge victorious. They finished an impressive 25th overall in the number 301 car.
The number 235 BMW M235i Racing, in which the two motorsport journalists Bernd Ostmann (DE) and Christian Gebhardt (DE) alternated with BMW Motorsport Junior Victor Bouveng (SE) and Harald Grohs (DE) at the wheel, enjoyed a successful race, winning the SP 8T class and finishing 42nd overall. This marked Grohs’ 30th start at the Nürburgring 24 Hours – and his last, as he announced after the race.