Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 reaches 11th place after chasing performance in Spa-Francorchamps.

BMW:Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 reaches 11th place after chasing performance in Spa-Francorchamps.

Spa-Francorchamps. By the end of a turbulent 24-hour race in
Spa-Francorchamps (BEL), defending champions Walkenhorst Motorsport
had put in an impressive chasing performance as the #34 BMW M6 GT3 –
driven by Christian Krognes (NOR) and BMW works drivers Nick
Catsburg (NED) and Mikkel Jensen (DEN) – claimed 11th
place after starting from 35th on the grid. An accident
that was not the fault of the drivers forced BMW Team Schnitzer’s
#42 BMW M6 GT3, driven by Martin Tomczyk (GER), Augusto Farfus (BRA)
and John Edwards (USA), to retire just before the halfway point
after an equally strong performance had seen them move up to third
place.

 

The 71st running of the classic endurance race in the
Ardennes was affected by extremely changeable weather conditions.
Drivers battled through soaring temperatures of around 40 degrees
Celsius during qualifying, but fog and heavy rain then interrupted the
race for six hours. After 363 laps, victory in the third race of the
Intercontinental GT Challenge was claimed by the #20 Porsche.

 

During the first 12 hours, the #42 BMW M6 GT3 of BMW Team Schnitzer
and the #34 BMW M6 GT3 of Walkenhorst Motorsport had battled their way
through the field thanks to some impressive overtaking manoeuvres.
Both cars struggled with the heat during qualifying but after starting
from 31st and 35th positions they had moved into
the top ten by early on Sunday morning.

Edwards was battling with poor visibility and heavy rain at the wheel
of the #42 car at around 04:30am when he was involved in an accident
through no fault of his own. Another car hit him from behind and sent
him spinning. The damage to the car was so severe that Edwards, Farfus
and Tomczyk had to retire from the race. Shortly after the accident,
the worsening weather conditions saw the red flag come out and the
race suspended.

The #34 Walkenhorst Motorsport car saw out the night without
incident, resuming the race after a near six-hour interruption in
second place. Krognes took the lead after the restart, but the BMW M6
GT3 had to head for the pits after the obligatory technical stop that
cost the team five minutes. The long interruption meant that there was
not enough time left in the race to make up that time and catch the
leaders. The winning car from last year crossed the finishing line in
11th place.

Three BMW M6 GT3s were competing in the Am category. The Boutsen
Ginion team’s #9 car completed a challenging race to secure eighth
place in the Am class. The second BMW M6 GT3 of Walkenhorst Motorsport
and the 3Y Technology team car both retired.

Reactions to the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps:

Henry Walkenhorst (Walkenhorst Motorsport Team Principal):

“Of course, the fact that we won here last year means that we aren’t
really satisfied with 11th place. You could see that the
cars with turbo engines were struggling in the heat throughout the
week and could not reach the performance levels we had hoped for,
especially in qualifying. Our race speed was then pretty good and we
were able to move up through the field until the race was stopped.
Unfortunately, the red flag phase really hurt us due to the technical
pit stop that we still had to make. Some tyre problems and a collision
during the final phase also cost us some time. We could have reached
fifth or sixth despite the race interruption. Congratulations to our
lads, who didn’t make any mistakes.”

Nick Catsburg (#34 BMW M6 GT3, Walkenhorst Motorsport,
11th place):

“After the five-minute technical pit stop in the race, we just didn’t
have any more time to make any progress. But I am still very proud of
the performance from the entire team. We didn’t make any mistakes and
the car was very fast. Ultimately, luck was just not on our side. You
win some, you lose some.”

Mikkel Jensen (#34 BMW M6 GT3, Walkenhorst Motorsport,
11th place):

“To start with, I am happy to have completed a 24-hour race for the
first time in my career. The race went really well during the night.
My lap times were some of the fastest out there. Unfortunately, I
couldn’t get to that speed at the end and the closing phase was very
difficult for me. But it was primarily the fact that we had to make
our five-minute stop under the green flag, and not during the yellow
flag phase like many other teams, that cost us a top finish.”

 

Christian Krognes (#34 BMW M6 GT3, Walkenhorst Motorsport,
11th place):

“Although we didn’t make any mistakes and made good progress, we
didn’t get the result we had hoped for. We came here to fight for a
podium finish and, for a while, it looked like it would be possible. I
think that the red flag benefited our competitors more than it did us,
as we still had to make the technical pit stop. It would have been
good to have a few more hours on the track to make up that time. It
was a shame that the race finished like that, but we will be back to
try again next year.”

Herbert Schnitzer jr. (BMW Team Schnitzer Team Manager):

“Of course, that is a really bitter pill to swallow for the whole
team. We were doing really well and had a realistic chance of a podium
finish. But the accident that led to our retirement was not our fault,
just like at the Nürburgring. The drivers and the whole team really
deserved to be rewarded for their great work.”

John Edwards
(#42 BMW M6 GT3, BMW Team Schnitzer, DNF):

“The conditions were very dangerous for racing. In fact, the fog was
more dangerous than the rain. On every lap I used the radio to say
that a ‘full course yellow’ or a red flag would have been appropriate,
as the conditions were very dangerous. Unfortunately, what happened to
me was the best example for that. That is very disappointing. We were
in third place at the time and I think that we could have recorded a
good result.”

Augusto Farfus (#42 BMW M6 GT3, BMW Team Schnitzer, DNF):

“It is difficult to put this into words. The race was going very
promisingly. The track temperature was in our favour and we worked
really well together as a team. I think we had a good pace and we did
mount a superb chasing performance. The conditions at the end were
extremely difficult and it was a very unlucky situation for John. But
that’s motorsport.”

 

Martin Tomczyk (#42 BMW M6 GT3, BMW Team Schnitzer, DNF):

“That result is hard to take. The weather conditions were pretty
tough. John was hit by a car that was struggling with aquaplaning. It
is a huge shame that we had to retire, as we were doing well at that
point. But those are the pitfalls of a 24-hour race. Unfortunately,
that’s not the first time I’ve experienced it this year.”

Original Press Release