Error-free performance from John Edwards, Marco Wittmann and Jesse Krohn #99 BMW M6 GT3 / Technical problems for second car
ROWE RACING was once again in the leading pack at the second VLN appearance of the year, successfully defying the extremely difficult weather conditions on the start of the race on the Nürburgring Nordschleife at the 61st ADAC ACAS H&R Cup. After their win in the season-opener, American driver John Edwards and two-time DTM champion Marco Wittmann from Germany were this time joined by their BMW works driver colleague Jesse Krohn from Finland, and crossed the line in sixth place in the #99 BMW M6 GT3.
However, the #98 car, in which BMW DTM driver Philipp Eng from Austria celebrated his 2019 race debut alongside BMW works drivers Tom Blomqvist from Great Britain and Denmark’s Mikkel Jensen, faced early setbacks due to a technical problem and then concentrated on testing various set-ups for the highlight of the season, the 47th ADAC 24h race (22nd/23rdJune). This also gave Mikkel Jensen and Tom Blomqvist the chance to clock up some race kilometres before the #98 car headed for the pits just before the end. Starting driver Philipp Eng had already made up seven places from a starting position of 19th before the problem occurred, and he had chosen an alternative strategy with a very early tyre change.
John Edwards made up four places from the start in the #99 car and entered the Nordschleife for the first time in fifth position. He slipped back by two places on the long Döttinger Höhe straight but reclaimed these on the very next lap. The American driver kept his nerve and kept his car on the road as heavier rainfall, and even brief hailstorms, set in. He was able to move up to third place for a period, but lost a lot of time through no fault of his own, as a series of Code 60 zones were in place after various accidents involving other cars.
Nonetheless, the #99 did briefly take the lead on the last lap before the pit stop. As a lot of his competitors had already made their stops, second driver Marco Wittmann returned to the track in eleventh place. The DTM driver worked his way to fifth before handing over to Jesse Krohn and the “flying Finn” began the final third of the race in seventh position. The became drier towards the end of the race and the team from St. Ingbert decided to switch back to dry tyres and go back on the charge. A fast pit stop allowed them to move past one competitor and up to sixth place, where an attack on fifth position was almost made possible with a lap time just three tenths of a second off the fastest lap of the race.
Hans-Peter Naundorf, ROWE RACING team principal: “Today’s race taught us a lot. We gathered plenty of information and were able to test out a lot of things in these difficult weather conditions, which I hope we will not need at the 24h race. Congratulations to our drivers, who stayed calm and drove a faultless race in these track conditions. There isn’t a scratch on our cars. It was a shame that a technical problem occurred so early with the #98 car. We were able to fix it quickly but that still left us a lap behind. That is why we decided to use the rest of the race as a test. We were doing well with the #99, but we lost considerably more time than our competitors in the chaos surrounding the downpour. We decided to try something out by changing to slicks just before the end. We had nothing to lose and went on the attack again. We nearly closed up on fifth place, but another Code 60 phase put paid to that on the final lap.”