24H: Rowe Racing gives BMW anniversary win after 9.5h red flag for rain at the Nürburgring

24H: Rowe Racing gives BMW anniversary win after 9.5h red flag for rain at the Nürburgring

Sep 27th 2020-

• 20th success 50 after the win in the first Nürburgring 24h Race back in 1970
• Catsburg, Sims and Yelloly secure the win with a 15.4-second lead
• For the seventh time in 50 years the race had to be red-flagged.

In the 48th ADAC TOTAL 24h race Rowe Racing gave BMW the 20th overall win. 50 years
after the success in the debut edition, the Munich based manufacturer in an extremely
close battle, thus making an end to a 10-year dry spell in the ‘Eifel Marathon’. With an
impressive performance on Sunday morning, following a 9.5-hour rain break in the night,
the drivers took the ROWE-BMW #99 to the perfect position and on the occasion of another
rain shower, they made a great decision.

“What a fantastic anniversary success 50 years after our overall win in the debut edition of
the Nürburgring 24h Race,” said BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt.. “With the 20th
win things have come full circle. Congratulations to the entire ROWE Racing squad and
the drivers, Nick Catsburg, Alexander Sims and Nick Yelloly. We already made many
efforts with the BMW M6 GT3 to win this tradition-rich ace that is extremely important for
BMW Motorsport. Now we made it and the delight is huge.”

Thanks to a fast switch to wets, Nick Catsburg passed the two leading Audis to secure the
first win of the German team. The previously leading Audi #3 pitted a lap later and
consequently dropped back to second. Despite an impressive catch-up race Christopher
Haase didn’t make it as the Audi rejoined the race after its final pit stop some 18 seconds
behind the BMW that made its final stop a lap earlier.


“Just incredible,” beamed Nick Catsburg. “This is my favourite race by far and it took me
so long to win it. But now I finally made it. All of us, team and drivers, didn’t make any
mistakes. And now let’s party!” In 2017, Catsburg already came close to winning the race
with ROWE Racing but in the end, they had to settle for finishing second. This time,
however, the Dutchman and the two Britons Alexander Sims and Nick Yelloly crossed the
line after 85 laps and 2,157.13 kilometres with a 15.4-second lead.

“When it came to the strategy, the weather spiked our guns,” said Audi’s Haase. There was rain in the Brünnchen area but we believed that we could continue on the slicks. But the rain wandered and that
arguably cost us the win. But I also am happy with having finished second. Behind him and
his team-mates Mirko Bortolotti and Markus Winkelhock, the Schnitzer-line-up Augusto
Farfus, Jens Klingmann, Martin Tomczyk and Sheldon van der Linde took the #42 to third
place.

Up to 8,500 spectators followed the race action from the GP-circuit’s grandstands – with
the Corona caused distance. They witnessed a memorable race with many spectacular
moments and – inter alia – the seventh weather caused red-flag situation in the history of
the race. From 22:32 CEST on Saturday evening to 08:00hrs on Sunday morning, the only
action was the torrential rain. The Eifel’s freak weather already temporarily stopped the
races in 1992, 1994, 2007, 2013, 2016 und 2018.

Prior to the red flags, continuous rain, sometimes really heavy, sometimes less, as well as
extremely difficult track and visibility conditions made for a lot of weird situations, beginning
as early as on lap one. The Octane-126-Ferrari #26 with Jonathan Hirschi at the wheel took
the lead during the sprint to turn one but after the field had turned off to the Nordschleife it
quickly dropped back to 26th. Raffaele Marciello in the Getspeed-Mercedes-AMG #9 and
pole-sitter Maro Engel in the HRT-Mercedes-AMG #4 were the first to pass the Ferrari to
afterwards hold the lead for a long time.

Another man of the first hour was Marco Mapelli in the Konrad-Lamborghini #21 Franck
Perera that leaped up from 23rd to third position. While his team-mate should be the first of
the front runners to be stopped by a massive engine failure. Later in the evening, the two
leading Mercedes vehicles were stopped by the more and more slippery track conditions.
At first, #4 crashed in the hands of Manuel Metzger to retire from the lead and then,
Marciello and the new leader, #9, also hit the crash barriers.

So, all of a sudden three Audis held the positions at the front end of the field – until Race
Director Walter Hornung pressed the red-flag button. “The conditions worsened more and
more, the rain got more and more torrential and the huge amount of water just wouldn’t
drain,” he revealed.

“So, we had no choice but red-flagging the race. The remaining cars continued the race only on Sunday morning at 08:00hrs CEST behind the safety car. At this point in time, just the first 16 cars were racing on the same lap

 

Quotes winners’ Press Conference

1st place / #99 ROWE Racing BMW M6 GT3

Alexander Sims (GBR):
“The car handled really great in the changeable conditions throughout the race. After the
re-start it was particularly important to be able to match the pace and be able to work our
way up without talking too many risks. And we succeeded in doing so in great style.”

Nicky Catsburg (NED):“The dry conditions certainly were an advantage for us. And I think that represented the difference compared to our opponents. But altogether it was a truly challenging race – and
the definitely most difficult race in my career to date. Making the right decisions at the right
point in time was the key factor for our triumph – particularly when it came to the tyres. And
of course you had to avoid making any driving mistake to be able to secure the win.”

Nick Yelloly (GBR):
“I’m so excited that we succeeded in winning the race at this fantastic circuit 50 years after
the BMW triumph in the debut edition of the legendary event. Just incredible. Despite the
extremely difficult conditions we made no mistakes at all. The car was really super. This
win also means a lot to the team. They tried it so often and now they finally did it It’s such
a good feeling.”

2nd Place / #3 Audi Sport Team CarCollection Audi R8 LMS GT3

Markus Winkelhock (Tschechien)
“By qualifying 11th we were the fastest Audi but definitely not among the favourites. But we
knew that the car was able to deliver and we encountered no technical problems
whatsoever throughout the race. A feat that also would have deserved a trophy. Due to the
freak weather, this year’s 24h Race certainly was one of the most difficult 24h Races ever held in the Eifel. Of course we came here to win the race but in these conditions we also
are happy with having finished second.”

Christopher Haase (Kulmbach)
“Yesterday, prior to the red flags, I spun but fortunately without the slightest consequences.
Today the conditions unfortunately weren’t really better, as the returning rain and the dirt
on the track made our lives really difficult. And it also didn’t help that I had to complete a
lap in the wet on slicks before we could switch to wets. Therefore I’m really proud of our
second place. The red flag was the absolutely right decision to prevent worse incidents.”

Mirko Bortolotti (AUT)
“The perfect debut for me as coming second is a great result. We gave our very best to win
the race and held the lead for quite a while but sometimes, small details can make for a big
difference. We were a great driver team and everybody made a fantastic job. It’s a pity
that our fourth driver, Robin Frijns, couldn’t contest the race due to a flu. We all send him
get-well-soon wishes from here.”

3rd Place / #42 BMW Team Schnitzer BMW M6 GT3

Augusto Farfus (BRA)
“In 2010 the circuit was different but the race always was demanding. This year there was
rain and we had to cope with difficult conditions. We had to give our very best. In 2010 we
had a brand-new car and a dry race, this year we had a lot of rain and a race that was redflagged for a long time. But today is a great day. Two BMWs on the podium, what a result!
I’m delighted for the brand, the entire BMW family and BMW Motorsport.”

Jens Klingmann (SUI)
“Yes, I’m fit again – but it was a long way. I had to make do without extensive preparation
for the race. Because of a bicycle accident I joined the team only for the fifth VLN round to
make my first experiences with the car and the tyres. And now, this event offered me the
chance of racing in the rain. But Martin already said it: we cooperated really well as team.
Team Schnitzer did a great job and ROWE Racing also delivered in great style and
deserved to win the race. We can be proud and happy.”

Martin Tomczyk (Kolbermoor)
At this circuit you can test as much as you want – it will surprise you every time. And without
situations we experienced this weekend it wouldn’t be the Nürburgring 24h Race. Actually,
we never raced with the optimum tyres for the respective conditions. We hoped so long for
a BMW win and today it counts that BMW has won the race as manufacturer. Of course
we would have loved to win as Team Schnitzer but the top priority was to see BMW on the
top spot. And this was achieved by ROWE Racing. It’s great to have celebrated the 20th
win after so many years. And it goes without saying that we hope the fans will be back for
the 49th Nürburgring 24h Race. Let’s hope for the best.”

Sheldon van der Linde (Kempten)
“It was a really good weekend. The #99 was just more competitive but I’m happy for BMW.
To see two cars on the podium and even three in the top four – what a great result! The restart was just crazy. So much spray. The track was rather wet in the morning and therefore,
it took quite a lot of time until it dried. But fortunately, our car delivers in both conditions.
The performance was fantastic.”

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