In just over 100 days the “Green Hell” hosts one of the highlights of international GT racing for the 45th time: The 24-hour race at the legendary Nürburgring-Nordschleife (GER) will be held on 27th and 28th May. The squad of BMW drivers for the classic in the Eifel region has been decided. The BMW M6 GT3 teams will compete with a fast and experienced mix of DTM stars, GT specialists and well-known BMW newcomers.
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In addition to the reigning champion Marco Wittmann (GER), DTM drivers Bruno Spengler (CAN), Maxime Martin (BEL), Augusto Farfus (BRA) and Tom Blomqvist (GBR) will also take on the “Green Hell” challenge. Wittmann, Martin, Blomqvist and Farfus, who was part of the winning team in the BMW M3 GT2 in 2010, have competed at the Nordschleife successfully before, while Spengler will make his debut at this 24-hour race on the last weekend in May.
Drivers from the BMW Motorsport works programme in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will also be at the Nürburgring. At the wheel of a BMW M6 GT3, Martin Tomczyk (GER), Alexander Sims (GBR) and John Edwards (USA), who all represented BMW at the Daytona 24 Hours in January, will pit their skills against their rivals. The same goes for Kuno Wittmer (CAN) and Nick Catsburg (NDL), who flew the flag for BMW in November at the wheel of the BMW M6 GT3 in the FIA GT World Cup in Macau (CHN).
Richard Westbrook (GBR) and Markus Palttala (FIN) will re-join the BMW squad for the 24 Hours Nürburgring. BMW works driver António Félix da Costa (PRT), who contests the FIA Formula E Championship for the MS Amlin Andretti team, will compete in a 24-hour marathon for BMW for the first time. Jörg Müller (GER, winner in 2004 and 2010), Philipp Eng (winner of the 2016 Spa-Francorchamps 24 Hours), Jens Klingmann (GER) and Jesse Krohn (FIN), return to the Nordschleife with a lot of experience of this amazing track under their belts.
As well as many well-known faces, numerous BMW newcomers also make up the squad for the legendary race in the Eifel mountains. Two-time DTM Champion Timo Scheider (GER) will compete in BMW colours for the first time in the “Green Hell”. He made it onto the list of winners of the 24-hour race in 2003.
Other new faces are Tom Onslow-Cole (GBR) and Marc Basseng (GER), who, with 26 wins in the VLN Endurance Championship and overall victory at the 24-hour race in 2012 behind him, takes a seat in the BMW M6 GT3. Alex Lynn (GBR) will also make his maiden 24-hour race appearance with BMW. In 2014 he drove the BMW M4 DTM car in the Young Driver Test.
“We’re looking forward to the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring,” said BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt. “It is always a special weekend for us, after all, this iconic race plays an important role in the history of BMW Motorsport. We have celebrated 19 victories there to date. After finishing fifth on the BMW M6 GT3’s debut last year, we’d be happy to move up a few places this time. To make that possible, you need experienced teams and reliable, fast drivers. We will field both of these once again in 2017. This is perhaps our most varied and excellent squad ever at the Nürburgring which is why I am confident that we will put on another good show for the BMW fans at the Ring.”
As in 2016, the Schubert Motorsport and ROWE Racing teams will each field two BMW M6 GT3s. BMW Team Schnitzer, a team that has won this event five times, strengthens the already powerful squad even further. The teams will experience their first race action at the Nordschleife this year on 25th March, when the VLN Endurance Championship season gets underway.
More driver statements regarding the 24 hour line-up:
Marco Wittmann: “As a driver, you are fired up for the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring every year. It’s always a highlight, a true motor racing festival. Everyone wants to be a part of it. The Nordschleife is arguably the best track in the world. Our pace was good in 2016. That’s why I’m definitely optimistic for this year’s race. The fans there are unique. This special atmosphere can be found nowhere else but at the Nordschleife.”
Timo Scheider: “I’m extremely happy that BMW Motorsport is giving me this very special opportunity. The anticipation of proving myself with a new brand and to write an all-new chapter in my career is huge. It’s a perfect fit that the Nürburgring 24 Hours will be our first major race appearance. The Nordschleife myth is unique. I’m very grateful to BMW for giving me this chance. And I’m looking forward to everything that could come.”
Jörg Müller: “I’m really looking forward to the Nürburgring 24 Hours. I have been a BMW works driver for more than 20 years now and have contested countless races for the brand, particularly on the Nordschleife. In most cases we were successful. I have won the 24-hour twice. You obviously dream of making it a hat-trick. But the ‘Green Hell’ has its own rules. We will work hard in order to be able to battle it out at the front end of the grid.”