The BMW M6 GT3 repeated last year’s success for its predecessor, the BMW Z4 GT3, by winning the 24 Hours of Spa- Francorchamps. After 531 laps, the ROWE Racing car No. 99, driven by Maxime Martin, Philipp Eng and Alexander Sims, crossed the finish line in first place. The trio clinched the 23rd victory overall for BMW in the endurance classic at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.
Local heroes Pascal Ickx and Gérard Langlois secured BMW’s first triumph at the Ardennes marathon in a BMW 1800 TI/SA back in 1965. Nicky Catsburg, Lucas Luhr and Markus Palttala scored victory with the BMW Z4 GT3 last season. Now its successor, the BMW M6 GT3, has also added its name to the list of winners of the 24-hour race in Spa-Francorchamps – and on its very first appearance.
It was a race of highs, lows and a perfect finish for the victorious No. 99 BMW M6 GT3. In the initial phase in particular, yellow flags, a safety car phase lasting almost an hour and a lot of traffic in the pit lane kept mixing up the field. Martin, Sims and Eng were even outside the top 30 for a while. As the race went on, they were able to battle their way up through the field lap by lap. When night fell, the BMW M6 GT3 had established itself among the front-runners and led the field. The car entered the pits for a mandatory five-minute stop to change its brakes during a yellow flag phase. Afterwards, Sims, Martin and Eng continued to hold their ground among the front- runners and were in fourth place halfway through the race. They returned to first place in the early hours of the morning. Unperturbed by the changeable conditions, ROWE Racing brought home victory. The triumph was a particularly special experience for Belgian driver Martin at his home race in Spa-Francorchamps.
Last year’s winner Nick Catsburg, with Stef Dusseldorp and Dirk Werner, also drove a fantastic race in the car No. 98. ROWE Racing’s second BMW M6 GT3 was in the top 10 for long periods of the race and also completed laps as the leader. Like their team-mates in the sister car, Catsburg, Dusseldorp and Werner also made it through the night without incident. They were in 16th place at the halfway point, made it back into the top 10 with an outstanding display of driving, and established themselves in a strong position. Then, an hour and a half before the end of the race, the No. 98 BMW M6 GT3 suffered a problem with the clutch. Catsburg, Dusseldorp and Werner were forced to retire.