BMW Team RLL looking forward to Road America.

BMW:BMW Team RLL looking forward to Road America.

Munich. The annual trip to Road America (USA) is always a
highlight for BMW Team RLL. The classic Wisconsin circuit hosts the
eighth GTLM round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and
was the site of BMW Team RLL’s very first pole position and victory
in 2009 behind the efforts of Bill Auberlen and Joey Hand (both USA)
in their BMW M3 GT. Over the past eight seasons the team has scored
an additional two poles and seven podium finishes at the historic
motor circuit, including two more wins in 2010 and 2012.

 

Sunday’s 2:40-hour race will see the team looking to add to the
positive results for the all-new BMW M8 GTE. To date, in the first
seven rounds of the year the BMW M8 GTE has scored two pole positions
and two second place finishes at Sebring (USA) and Mid-Ohio (USA).

Turner Motorsport has entered Auberlen and Robby Foley (USA) in the
no. 96 TMS BMW M6 GT3. Turner has won the GTD class twice before at
Road America. First, with the BMW Z4 GT3 in 2014 during their
championship winning season and in 2017, before joining BMW Team RLL
this year, Jesse Krohn (FIN) co-drove the Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3
with Jens Klingmann (GER) to the GTD class victory.

 

Statements on the race at Road America.

Bobby Rahal (BMW Team RLL, Team Principal): “I always
look forward to Road America. We have been competitive with every BMW
model we have raced there over the years – BMW M3 GT, BMW Z4 GTLM and
BMW M6 GTLM. I have every reason to believe that the BMW M8 GTE will
be no different.”

 

Connor De Phillippi (#25 BMW M8 GTE): “Road America
is one of my top-three circuits on the calendar and a place where my
expectations are high for our BMW M8 GTE. High speed and flowing with
a few low speed technical bits is exactly what our car is built for!
We’ve regrouped, made improvements and are ready to get back on the
podium where we know we’re capable of performing.”

 

Alexander Sims (#25 BMW M8 GTE): “Since Lime Rock I
have been to Spa in Belgium for the 24-hour GT3 race where we finished
second to another BMW, so that was a fun and successful weekend!
Looking ahead to Road America though, it’s yet another amazing circuit
that the IMSA championship goes to and I am looking forward to
hustling our BMW M8 GTE around the track. I’m hopeful that we can get
our car dialed in to the circuit and get some momentum going for the
last third of the season.”

 

John Edwards (#24 BMW M8 GTE): “Road America is a
classic. The track has great flow with a big variety of slow, medium,
and high speed corners, including the fastest corner on our schedule,
the kink. It takes commitment, but it’s possible to take the kink
flat-out at around 150mph, even in a big GT car! After a very
challenging season thus far, Jesse and I will be looking to bounce
back on Sunday in Elkhart Lake.”

 

Jesse Krohn (#24 BMW M8 GTE): “Road America is my
favourite track in the U.S. so I am looking forward to driving there
with the BMW M8 GTE. Last year was good with the BMW M6 GT3 as we
scored a win and I hope we can be as competitive this year with the
new car.”

Original Press Release

Walkenhorst on sensational victory with the BMW M6 GT3: “This win means an awful lot to every one of us.”

BMW:Walkenhorst on sensational victory with the BMW M6 GT3: “This win means an awful lot to every one of us.”

Munich. The biggest success in the history of Walkenhorst
Motorsport so far is the  sensational victory at the iconic
Spa-Francorchamps (BEL) 24 Hours. After 24 hours and 511 laps of
racing, the BMW customer racing  team from Melle near Osnabrück
(GER) came home ahead of all the high-class teams from other
manufacturers. The #34 BMW M6 GT3, driven by BMW works drivers
Philipp Eng (AUT) and Tom Blomqvist (GBR) together with their
team-mate Christian Krognes (NOR), crossed the finish line in first
place. The BMW success was rounded off by a fine second place for
the ROWE Racing #99 BMW M6 GT3 which, like Walkenhorst Motorsport,
is a customer team supported by BMW Motorsport.

 

The owner of the Walkenhorst Motorsport team is Henry Walkenhorst
(GER). He is a racing driver himself and was also in action at Spa.
Walkenhorst and his team-mates Ralf Oeverhaus (GER), Anders Buchardt
(NOR) and Immanuel Vinke (GER) finished fifth in the AM-Cup and
38th overall. In an interview, Walkenhorst speaks about his
team’s victory, his emotions as success was secured, and the factors
behind a result of this magnitude.

Mr. Walkenhorst, a sensational victory in a thrilling race.
How did you feel in the closing minutes?

 

Henry Walkenhorst: “It was obviously very exciting. We had actually
planned for me to do the final stint in our second BMW M6 GT3.
However, I gave that a miss, as I was really very tense. When you are
on the cusp of achieving such a big success, I think that everyone in
the team feels the same. Like me, every one of us was trembling with
excitement. I was very, very nervous and was pacing up and down. I
could not sit still during the final stages.”

 

Has what your team achieved with the BMW M6 GT3 at
Spa-Francorchamps sunk in now?

Walkenhorst: “I have comprehended what we achieved, but it still
feels really sweet. It sometimes takes a little longer to sink in. It
is definitely a very nice feeling. I am already looking ahead. As team
principal, it is my job to already be thinking about the upcoming
races and perhaps even the seasons ahead. You have to strike while the
iron is hot. This win means an awful lot to every one of us in the team.”

This was your first appearance in the PRO class as a private
team, and you beat the other manufacturers’ works teams at the first
attempt. How did you pull that off?

Walkenhorst: “I don’t think you can sum that up in one sentence. The
decisive thing is simply not to make any mistakes and to have a good
strategy. It is standard procedure for everyone to line up with a
well-prepared car. I think the combination we had this year was
crucial. BMW Motorsport gave us great support, we had superb drivers,
all of whom were flawless. We had perfectly-prepared cars and a
different strategy to what many would perhaps have expected from us.
We were progressive and repeatedly opened up a gap of 10 to 15
seconds. However, we were also aware that that could be wiped out by a
relatively large number of safety car periods. In the end, we came
away with this fantastic result.”

At what point in the race did it dawn on you that the win was
a distinct possibility?

Walkenhorst: “You obviously start hoping relatively early in the
race, then you spend the rest of it biting your fingernails. We are
VLN specialists and, unfortunately, have also had results over the
past three, four or five years, in which one or other of the cars has
had to retire on the final or penultimate lap, there has been a
technical issue, and so on. You really get your hopes up in the last
two hours, and then it gets closer and closer. After the final pit
stop it was clear to us that we had a very good chance of winning,
provided the technology held up. And it did.”

You mentioned the support you received from BMW. What form did
that support take, and how important was it?

Walkenhorst: “You cannot put it into percentages. We have enjoyed a
close relationship with BMW for years. Over the past eight years, we
have consistently built up our little team. We have had a bit of bad
luck on a few occasions in the past. The support was taken to a new
level when we entered the GT3 racing scene. That started with the BMW
Z4 GT3. We ran that car for three years. We are now in our third year
with the BMW M6 GT3. This is top-class sport and you obviously need a
good engineering back-up, which we receive from BMW. In this case, the
superb driver line-up obviously also helped. The interaction and trust
in each other are important. You don’t just get given someone like
Philipp Eng or Tom Blomqvist. I think BMW knows which teams they are
going to allocate certain drivers to. You have to have a very decent
and trustworthy partnership  to be given that kind of opportunity.”

Philipp Eng, Tom Blomqvist and Christian Krognes: How would
you describe your three winning drivers?

Walkenhorst: “Christian has always tended to hide his light under a
bushel. That is simply because he is yet to record the kind of results
at such special races as the one at Spa-Francorchamps or the
Nürburgring 24 Hours, which would attract a lot of media attention.
That aside, Christian Krognes is the record hold with our BMW M6 GT3
on the Nordschleife. He set the lap record in 2016. He is one of the
very best drivers – very level-headed and very focussed, but also a
privateer, who is obviously not able to take his place in the car for
races and practice sessions every week or fortnight. With that in
mind, his performance here must certainly be rated just as highly as
the absolute top performances delivered by Tom Blomqvist and Philipp
Eng. For those three days, they spoke about nothing else. They
exchanged ideas, brooded over data and were focussed. It is this
down-to-earth attitude and commitment that make Tom and Philipp so
special. We already knew we could expect that from Christian.”

You are team principal and racing driver. However, you are
also a BMW dealer. What does this victory mean to your everyday job?

Walkenhorst: “My main job is obviously a BMW dealer. With everything
going on, you cannot forget that. Our idea, years ago, was to combine
professional racing with our business, so that more people would buy
sporty BMW cars from us. Refined models with M Performance parts.
Forming this link is important to me, not just as a team principal but
also as a BMW dealer. And it is working very well. The customers say:
If Walkenhorst is actively involved in motorsport, and is doing well,
then he is probably better than others. That is, to a certain degree,
our approach. It has worked well in recent years. We have been able to
convince our customers that we can be successful in motorsport. As a
result, we have seen an increase in sales of M cars, such as the M240,
M3, M4 and M5. This win will obviously allow us to play this card to
an even greater extent.”

What next for your team?

Walkenhorst: “This weekend, we are straight back to business at the
hillclimb here in Borgloh – one of the biggest hillclimbs, which is
being staged for the 51st time this year. This is our home
race, right on our doorstep, just three kilometres from the team
headquarters. We will compete in the individual classes there with the
BMW M6 GT3, BMW M4 GT4 and the BMW M235i Racing. We are also providing
the Race Taxi. We have modified a BMW Z4 GT3 and fitted a passenger
seat for that purpose. That is obviously fully booked and we are
raffling off places. Our guys returned home on Monday night,
reassembled the cars on Tuesday, then we head to the hillclimb on
Thursday. The two races are on Saturday and Sunday. After that, in
mid-August, we have the next VLN race, at which we will field a full
team and two BMW M6 GT3s, a BMW Z4 GT3, a BMW M4 GT4 and two BMW M235i Racings.”

Original Press Release