After a long, tough 24-hour race, there was unbridled joy for the BMW teams. Walkenhorst Motorsport and ROWE Racing recorded a one-two result for BMW at the 70thedition of the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (BEL). BMW works drivers Philipp Eng (AUT) and Tom Blomqvist (GBR) topped the podium with their team-mate Christian Krognes (NOR), triumphing after 511 laps in the #34 BMW M6 GT3. This was a maiden Spa victory for the Walkenhorst Motorsport team, which was competing in the PRO Cup for the first time.
The ROWE Racing #99 BMW M6 GT3 crossed the line ten seconds after the winner to claim second place. The three BMW works drivers Jens Klingmann (GER), Alexander Sims (GBR) and Nick Catsburg (NED) rounded off the one-two result for BMW. This success marks the 24thoverall win for BMW at the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, and the first one-two result since 1997. BMW is by far the most successful brand in the history of the legendary race. BMW has claimed three wins in the last four races at Spa (2015, 2016 and 2018).
This year’s race was characterised by numerous yellow flag and safety car periods, and was red-flagged for nearly two hours after a serious night-time accident. The ROWE Racing #98 BMW M6 GT3 started from 27thposition and was also involved in the battle for victory for a considerable period. However, Marco Wittmann (GER), Jesse Krohn (FIN) and BMW Motorsport Junior Ricky Collard (GBR) had to retire overnight due to a technical issue. The fourth BMW M6 GT3 to compete, the #36 Walkenhorst Motorsport car, was in action in the AM Cup. The driving quartet of Henry Walkenhorst (GER), Ralf Oeverhaus (GER), Anders Buchardt (NOR) and Immanuel Vinke (GER) secured fifth place in class and finished 38thoverall.
Jens Marquardt (BMW Motorsport Director):
“Congratulations to the Walkenhorst Motorsport team on their victory in the 24-hour race at Spa-Francorchamps. After 2016, this is now the second time that the BMW M6 GT3 proved unbeatable at the world’s largest GT race. We are very proud of this – once again, it underlines the competitiveness of the GT3 – the flagship in our customer racing range. This 24thtriumph has cemented our position as the most successful manufacturer by far at the Spa 24-hour race. I was particularly impressed by the way in which Philipp Eng, Tom Blomqvist and Christian Krognes secured their victory. Just like the whole crew, this trio made no mistakes, stayed out of trouble and were in the leading pack from the start. The strategy during the numerous yellow flag and safety car phases was also ideal. This is just the kind of performance required to come out on top at such a tough endurance classic. The fact that Jens Klingmann, Alexander Sims and Nick Catsburg also reached the podium, finishing second in the ROWE Racing BMW M6 GT3 and completing a one-two result, makes the 70th edition of the 24-hour race at Spa just perfect. Now we can celebrate.”
Philipp Eng (#34 BMW M6 GT3, Walkenhorst Motorsport, 1stplace):
“That is just unbelievable. I am simply delighted to have won the race for a second time, ahead of such a tight field with these great drivers and cars. Our BMW M6 GT3 ran incredibly well – and my two team-mates were legendary. There is so much going through my head right now. I am overjoyed for the whole Walkenhorst Motorsport crew and for the BMW Motorsport guys here at the circuit and in Munich. Now I am looking forward to a cold drink.”
Tom Blomqvist (#34 BMW M6 GT3, Walkenhorst Motorsport, 1stplace):
“Words cannot describe my feelings. Who would have thought at the beginning of the race that we could really win it? Not one single mistake by the team, not one problem with the car over the whole week – it’s unbelievable. What this small team has done is just fantastic. It is one of my special moments, to enjoy such a sensation with a team like this is just incredible.”
Christian Krognes (#34 BMW M6 GT3, Walkenhorst Motorsport, 1stplace):
“This is crazy! I would never have thought this when I came here. But I believed in the team and I had two fantastic team-mates in Tom and Philipp that I could rely on. What Philipp pulled out of the hat in the last two hours was just fantastic. I have been with this team for two years, mainly on the Nordschleife. It is a young and inspired team; they all want to win and this came to fruition here.”
Jens Klingmann (#99 BMW M6 GT3, ROWE Racing, 2ndplace):
“I think that second place was the best we could have achieved. I am particularly happy for the BMW family. First and second for BMW Motorsport – who would have thought we would manage that before the race? This is the toughest GT race in the world, and we can all be proud of our achievement.”
Alexander Sims (#99 BMW M6 GT3, ROWE Racing, 2ndplace):
“I’m very pleased to be back on the podium. I won it with Maxime Martin and Philipp two years ago. I’m very, very proud of all the ROWE Racing guys and BMW Motorsport. They did an awesome job with this one-two victory. It’s a shame it wasn’t the first place for us but I’m very, very pleased with second place and proud of what we achieved.”
Nick Catsburg (#99 BMW M6 GT3, ROWE Racing, 2ndplace):
“Finishing second is never that nice, honestly. But losing against another BMW makes up for it. I’m really, really happy to be on the podium and happy for BMW for the one-two. BMW won in 2015, in 2016 and now again in 2018. I think we are doing something right here.“
Marco Wittmann (#98 BMW M6 GT3, ROWE Racing, DNF):
“We started the race well and moved up from 27th place to second. The team and the drivers were doing a great job. It’s a shame, because we had the fastest car on the track before the problems started. But sport is like that sometimes, even if it’s hard to accept. On the positive side, BMW still has something to celebrate here.”
Jesse Krohn (#98 BMW M6 GT3, ROWE Racing, DNF):
“I have mixed feelings. I am really happy for BMW for the one-two result and for my team to finish second but on our side, we didn’t have the luck. We had a great run and the team had a great strategy putting us from 27thon the grid to second place before the issues. We would have been just getting to the point of the race that would have been strong for us so it’s really a shame that we were denied the chance to fight for the win.”
Ricky Collard (#98 BMW M6 GT3, ROWE Racing, DNF):
“It’s a massive shame. We had some really, really good stints and great pace – just before the retirement, we were the fastest car on track. The steps forward we’ve made this year have been massive. It was my first 24-hour race in a GT3 car, and for a long time it was going really well.”