“Royal Park” instead of “Green Hell”, Lombardy instead of the Eifel region, totally different, but no less iconic: After two podium results within eight days at the Nürburgring, next weekend sees ROWE RACING enter the European stage of the Blancpain GT series again in Monza for the first time this year. The famous high-speed track to the north of Milan will host the first of the five Endurance Cup races, which the team from St. Ingbert will contest with two BMW M6 GT3.
The two BMW works drivers well-established at ROWE RACING, Nick Catsburg from the Netherlands and Alexander Sims from Great Britain, will receive VIP support in the #99 BMW M6 GT3 at the 5.793-kilometre track in the “Royal Park” of Monza: The two-time DTM champion Marco Wittmann will swap his DTM racer for the GT car and contest his second race for ROWE RACING after the 24h qualifying race in 2016, the year in which he celebrated his second DTM title after 2014.
The sister car with #98 will be driven by young Brit Ricky Collard from the BMW Motorsport Juniors development squad, a successful development programme that celebrated its 40th anniversary last year, for the first time. Collard, who contested two races in a BMW M4 GT4 in the VLN for the team from St. Ingbert in 2017, will share the cockpit with the BMW works drivers Jens Klingmann and Jesse Krohn. Finland’s Krohn drove for ROWE RACING in a few sprint races in the Blancpain GT Series in 2017, and this year is part of the team of drivers for the ADAC Zurich 24h race at the Nürburgring. Klingmann, who was heavily involved in the development of the BMW M6 GT3, has already made guest appearances for the team.
The Monza race weekend really gets going with the free practice on Saturday (11:35 a.m. local time) and the pre-qualifying (5:00 p.m. local time), after test drives the day before. On Sunday (22nd April), the 60-minute qualifying session takes place at 9:45 a.m. (local time), with the three-hour race starting at 3:00 p.m. local time.
Hans-Peter Naundorf, team principal ROWE RACING: “We are looking forward to the start of the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup and with our traditional strength in endurance races are hoping to be up there fighting for the title in this series with a top-class field. In Monza, a two-time DTM champion in Marco Wittmann will reinforce our team, who alongside Nick Catsburg and Alex Sims will no doubt form a strong trio. We are also proud of now becoming part of the legendary and successful BMW Motorsport Juniors development programme. Ricky Collard made a very good impression last year on his two GT4 outings for our team. Now we are working together to get him quickly used to the very high level of the Blancpain GT Series. Jesse Krohn also came through the BMW development school, so is no doubt a good role model for Collard. I am really excited that it finally worked out getting Jens Klingmann on board. He knows the M6 better than other drivers and is very fast. With this trio, we have three young drivers in the #98 who really enjoy GT racing and who have the right attitude.”