ROWE RACING claims second place to celebrate greatest success at the Nürburgring 24h race after crazy finale
Nick Catsburg “swims” to the podium with the BMW M6 GT3 #98 after chaos caused by rain / #99 car secures tenth place after early tyre problems
ROWE RACING finished in second place at the 45th edition of the ADAC 24h race at the Nürburgring, after one of the craziest final phases in the history of the “Eifel Marathon”. After a sudden downpour just minutes before the end of the race, final driver Nick Catsburg almost “swam” to the podium in the #98 BMW M6 GT3, confirming the greatest success yet in the “Green Hell” for the St. Ingbert team. After suffering unfortunate tyre problems in the early phase of the race, the #99 car secured a second top-10 finish for the team by claiming tenth place after a faultless performance.
Dutch driver Catsburg had already recorded one WTCC race win on Saturday, moving into the lead in the world championship in his “part-time job”, and he slid from third place into second on the penultimate lap of 158 when the #29 Audi in front of him had some problems during a pit stop. As heavy rainfall then set in, Catsburg and the leading Audi driver René Rast continued to bob around like rubber dinghies, nearly sliding off the circuit several times on slick tyres before crawling around the 25.738-kilometre long combination of Grand Prix circuit and the legendary Nordschleife. However, the #29 Audi donned wet-weather tyres during a delayed pit stop and Kelvin van der Linde drove through to the front. Catsburg also put on wet-weather tyres for the final lap and claimed second place.
The team’s #99 car, was driven by Sims (as part of his double assault on the Nürburgring), BMW DTM driver Maxime Martin from Belgium, BMW’s Austrian works driver Philipp Eng, and the German Nordschleife specialist Marc Basseng. The squad had already lost a lot of ground in the early phase of the race after suffering a puncture in the Bergwerk section with Maxime Martin having to crawl slowly back to the pits for nearly half a lap and costing the quartet several minutes.
The team does not have much time to enjoy the celebrations. The next round of the Blancpain GT Series is taking place this coming Whit weekend in Zolder, Belgium.
Hans-Peter Naundorf, ROWE RACING team principal: “Everyone on the podium today was a winner; it was a festival of motorsport. It was very exciting and dramatic. After driving round and round for 23 hours, the weather gods suddenly decide to make things interesting just before the end and everything happened so fast. We very nearly snatched the win at the finish. Nicky’s performance in the final stint was masterful. Most drivers would lose the car, driving in this rain on slicks. He deserves maximum respect for catching up and showing nerves of steel. Second place overall is absolutely fine when you take the race as a whole. It was a great show.”
Nick Catsburg, ROWE RACING #98 BMW M6 GT3: “We all read that there was a chance of rain, but in the car I was sure it wasn’t going to – it was so sunny. The team came on the radio and told me spots of rain were reported but I passed that location and it was totally dry. That happened twice… Then suddenly there was massive rain, but it was localised so I stayed on slicks. But then the second lap after it started raining, huge sections of the track were absolutely soaked; I was barely able to stay on the track at 10km/h! On the last lap, the car was amazing on the wets, and we were able to take P2. It feels amazing to be on the podium. It’s a very, very big event and I’m very happy with this result.”
Alexander Sims, ROWE RACING #98 BMW M6 GT3: “I’m ecstatic. It’s absolutely awesome. It’s my fourth time coming here, and just like the victory at Spa last year I didn’t expect it. We didn’t put a foot wrong the whole race; everyone did a superb job. I feel like we capitalised on every opportunity we had so the team deserved to be on the podium. It was a really exciting final stint, and Nick did a fantastic job. I’m really pleased to be on the podium.”
Markus Palttala, ROWE RACING #98 BMW M6 GT3: “If you look at it overall, we didn’t expect a podium this weekend. After top-30 qualifying, when everyone went flat out, we knew it was going to be really tough. Just to be on the podium is awesome. The last few laps were pretty exciting, Nicky was sensational. The whole team, and BMW Motorsport, did a great job this weekend to squeeze the maximum result from the race.”
Richard Westbrook, ROWE RACING #98 BMW M6 GT3: “It almost, in a funny way, feels like a victory. We struggled in practice and qualifying, but then we just drove our socks off. It wasn’t easy with tyres, and the Audi was a little faster, but I feel like the podium is for the whole team, because we had the perfect 24-hour race.”
Philipp Eng, ROWE RACING #99 BMW M6 GT3: “I think that the whole BMW family did a really good job here and the reward was a podium finish, Of course, I would have liked to have been on the podium but I am delighted to congratulate my team-mates. They have earned this success. The early tyre problems with our car left us with a deficit that we could not make good for the rest of the race.”