ROWE RACING displayed a marked improvement in form, 34 days before the start of the 45th ADAC Zurich 24h race at the Nürburgring. One of the BMW M6 GT3s competing for the team from St. Ingbert on Sunday claimed sixth place in the 24-hour qualification race, while the second car clawed back 14 positions in the dress rehearsal event, only missing out on the top 10 by one place. ROWE RACING was the best-placed BMW team, five weeks before the highlight of the season takes place in the Eifel mountains on 27th/28th May.
Current BMW DTM driver Maxime Martin from Belgium, who shared the cockpit of the #99 BMW M6 GT3 with BMW works drivers Philipp Eng from Austria, Britain’s Alexander Sims and the team’s new German Nordschleife specialist Marc Basseng, battled a Mercedes for fifth place as the race drew to a close, attempting to secure early confirmation of a place in top 30 qualifying for the 24h race. Martin had started the race from 14th place and was faster than his opposite number, but had no chance to overtake on the last lap on the long straights from Döttinger Höhe down to the finish line. He missed out by just 1.027 seconds.
British driver Sims, who competed in both cars, started the chase in the #98 car from even further back. Starting from 25th place, he took the M6 up to 17th before the first change of drivers. Together with Dutch driver Nick Catsburg, Finland’s Markus Palttala and his compatriot Richard Westbrook, Sims was able to further improve, reaching eleventh place as the race progressed.
The team is still searching for some top speed improvement before the 24h race, without losing the strengths of the BMW M6 GT3 in the numerous fast corners on the 25.378-kilometre long combination of Grand Prix circuit and Nordschleife. However, this will be no easy task with the current “balance of performance”. Nonetheless, those in charge of ROWE RACING were very pleased with the reliability of the cars and the faultless work of the drivers and the team at the dress rehearsal.
Hans-Peter Naundorf, ROWE RACING team principal: “We are noticing a positive trend approaching the 24-hour race and we are coordinating better in all areas. I am very pleased with the performance of the drivers and the whole team, who didn’t make a single error and were always battling to progress, especially with regard to the starting positions. We were not so dead-set on top times in qualifying, but were working more towards the race and this strategy proved itself. However, we were a little unlucky that some other teams improved so much in second qualifying. Had we started a few places higher up, we may have been able to achieve a little more. We must certainly work on our performance, which takes us to the current BoP. If the faster car cannot overtake on the straights, some questions must be asked.”
Alexander Sims, ROWE RACING #99 BMW M6 GT3: “Sixth place is a solid result. Of course, we would have liked to have secured starting place in the top 30 qualifying here already, but now we have to do that in four weeks’ time. I would think that we will be OK to do this. We learned a few things during the race that will help us with the 24-hour race. The tyres seemed to start working a bit better during the race, which was the main difference to qualifying and why our racing speed was better. All in all, I am satisfied with the qualification race.”