Team BMW Motorsport has made a triumphant return and won the 2010 24-hour race at the Nürburgring-Nordschleife. Five years since the manufacturer’s last victory, the no. 25 BMW M3 GT2 claimed BMW’s 19th victory at this endurance classic on Sunday. The winning car, with Jörg Müller (DE), Augusto Farfus (BR), Uwe Alzen (DE) and Pedro Lamy (PT) at the wheel, crossed the finish line first after 154 laps of the 25.378-kilometre circuit. The quartet of drivers produced a flawless performance and fought their way onto the top step of the podium despite gearbox problems in the last three hours.
An impressive fight back saw the second BMW M3 GT2, car number 26, driven by Dirk Werner (DE), Dirk Müller (DE), Andy Priaulx (GB) and Dirk Adorf (DE) race through the field to finish in seventh in front of 220,000 spectators. A crash, while swerving to avoid a collision, resulted in the four drivers losing an hour in the pits early on in the race and dropping back to 182nd. In cool, but dry conditions, car number 26 worked its way back up the field lap by lap. The drivers’ fighting spirit was ultimately rewarded.
The two private BMW Z4 GT3 cars with numbers 76 and 69, run by Schubert Motorsport and Dörr Motorsport respectively, rounded off an excellent overall result for BMW by finishing in fourth and ninth. In addition to the win, BMW teams secured ten class wins at the Nordschleife. These results have further strengthened BMW’s position as the most successful manufacturer in the history of the race. Of the 198 cars lining up for this year’s event, 63 were BMWs.
BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen said: “That was a fantastic return for us at the 24-hour race here on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife. This win reminds me of the triumph in Le Mans in 1999. I have never known excitement like I experienced today. After some of our direct rivals fell by the wayside, our victory was also hanging by a thread. At about 12.00 the winning car developed a gearbox problem, resulting in the loss of one gear. Shortly after 13.00 other gears gradually gave up. It was a masterful performance how Jörg Müller and Uwe Alzen brought the car home in first place in this crucial phase. The tension was enormous for all of us, so the relief was all the greater when the car crossed the finish line. I must say a big thank you to every single member of the team. Everyone worked perfectly together. Thanks also to our loyal fans, who have taken us to their hearts after a five-year break and given us such great support.”
For the Schnitzer Motorsport team this is the fifth win in the “Green Hell” after previous victories in 1989, 1990, 2004 and 2005. Team Manager Charly Lamm said: “Days like this are the ultimate reason why I love my profession so much. The commitment shown by the entire team today is really unique. We had to overcome some tricky situations, but always believed in ourselves. The preparation time was tough, as we had to get the best possible package on its feet within a relatively short timeframe. We obviously succeeded. It goes without saying that I feel sorry for the rivals who did not finish the race. However, reliability is crucial in a race like this, and in that regard we were number one today.”
The fast and flawless work which Schnitzer Motorsport has demonstrated for decades played a big role in this triumph. Following Werner’s crash on the eighth lap, the mechanics changed the front-left suspension, the radiator and the rear-left shock absorber on the number 26 BMW M3 GT2. The winning car also experienced difficulties: tyre damage on lap 46 and a damaged radiator just six laps later also required unscheduled pit stops. In addition, the car developed a gearbox problem in the last three hours. However, the team and drivers stayed calm and refused to be denied victory once they had taken over at the head of the field with two hours remaining.
A fifth victory on the Nordschleife sees Pedro Lamy draw level in the all-time winners’ list with Marcel Tiemann (DE), who is the only driver to have enjoyed as much success at the 24-hour race as the Portuguese BMW driver. For Jörg Müller and Uwe Alzen this was the second victory at probably the most challenging circuit in the world. Augusto Farfus also goes into the Nordschleife history books following his first 24-hour start in a works car.
Jörg Müller (Car Number 25):
“During my last stint we lost fourth gear. The problem gradually got worse. The main priority was to be careful and keep the car in the race. Everything worked out superbly in the end. The entire team has worked extremely hard over the last few months. This victory belongs to them. We drove consistent laps over the entire distance. If you can achieve that at a 24-hour race, you normally find yourself up at the front. For us today, it was even enough to finish first.”
Augusto Farfus (Car Number 25):
“That is my first victory at a 24-hour race. To win on the Nordschleife is a unique experience. I would like to thank BMW and Charly Lamm for putting their trust in me. I have learned a lot here, particularly from the Nordschleife old hands in my team. We knew that first we had to make it through the event before we could start to dream of winning. Our reliability was our greatest advantage today.”
Uwe Alzen (Car Number 25):
“To come away with that kind of result from a race that was anything but easy is sensational. First a puncture, then a damaged radiator and the gearbox problems. I have never seen a pit crew work so quickly and professionally, particularly when replacing the radiator. The whole race was unbelievably exciting. I am back on the top step of the podium for the first time in ten years. That is a great feeling. For me it is a great honour to work with BMW and Schnitzer. I feel on top of the world in this team. Today I am simply over the moon.”
Pedro Lamy (Car Number 25):
“That is definitely my best win here on the Nordschleife. Each one of my five victories was special in its own way, but the way we won this one was particularly difficult. Maybe some of the other teams were missing the bit of luck that was needed here. However, as you can make your own luck, this entire team most definitely earned its victory. I am pleased for BMW, everyone in the team and, of course, for myself.”
Dirk Werner (Car Number 26):
“Our race started with the worst possible scenario: we fell back almost to last place on the first lap. I felt really bad, as I was the one in the car when we had the crash. However, the team worked incredibly hard to boost my confidence again. My compliments to my fellow drivers, who did not make any mistakes. Seventh place after that start is a great result.”
Dirk Müller (Car Number 26):
“That was my fourth 24-hour race at the Nürburgring for BMW – and the third time we have won. We can be very proud. I say ‘we’ deliberately, although it was car number 25 that crossed the line in first, as we are a true team. Of course we are a bit disappointed that we did not finish higher with the no. 26 car. However, we showed an incredible morale. After the crash the car looked really bad, but the team fixed everything perfectly. First and seventh is a great result.”
Andy Priaulx (Car Number 26):
“I am more than happy. Our team claimed victory, which is fantastic for BMW. On the other side, we would have hoped for more with our car. Having said that, we did finish the race – and after a magnificent fight back. I simply cannot rate the performance of my team-mates highly enough. Nobody in our team gave up. We will take this fighting spirit with us from this week at the Nürburgring.”
Dirk Adorf (Car Number 26):
“After qualifying, nobody really expected a result like this from us. I am very impressed that we managed to turn the tide in this way. Charly Lamm and his team were fantastic and always believed we could win. The morale in the team is very impressive. Over the course of the race we made up three laps. I don’t like to think what might have been in it for us if we hadn’t been so unlucky at the start of the race.”