John Edwards, Nick Catsburg, and Richard Westbrook drove the #98 Rowe Racing M6 GT3 to a tenth-place finish in the four-hour VLN season-opener at the Nürburgring on March 24. A second Rowe M6 GT3 that Edwards’ IMSA Team RLL co-driver Connor De Phillippi shared with Jesse Krohn and Alexander Sims appeared to be headed for a top-ten finish until it suddenly lost tire pressure some twenty kilometers away from the pits. Rather than damage the car by attempting to drive it back to the pits, the team elected to retire it. The overall win went to Earl Bamber, Kevin Estre, and Laurens Vanthoor in the #911 Manthey Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R.
Rowe team principal Hans-Peter Naundorf said, “Overall, that was a very good start to the 2018 season for us. I was particularly happy with the debuts for Connor De Phillippi and John Edwards; both of them have settled into the team right away. They are really likeable guys, and extremely fast. Connor fought some great battles, while John’s persistence in #98 secured tenth place at the end, although we had tried out some strategic stuff earlier on with the car. The #99 car was well-placed in the top eight for some time until we had that unexpected tire problem. The tire had probably collected some debris during the lap and then lost all pressure within just a few hundred meters. It would have made no sense to drag the car back to the pits and risk damaging more parts of the car, as this would have meant a lot of additional work for us to get it fixed up before the second VLN race in two weeks’ time. Overall, the new Evo package for the BMW M6 GT3 did really well on the Nordschleife. It was a step forward for us, but the other teams put on a hell of a performance today.”
David Griessner and Yannick Fübrich won the M235i Cup class in the #650 Team Adrenalin Motorsport M235i Racing after the leading M235i R of defending champion Michael Schrey stalled just a few meters from the finish. Schrey pushed the car across the line, but was disqualified.
BimmerWorld’s James Clay and Cameron Evans contested the race in the #693 Securtal Sorg Rennsport M235i R. Clay reported on Facebook that a fuel issue on the circuit set them back several laps; the car was towed back to the pits and returned to the race, finishing fourteenth in class.
The next VLN race, another four-hour enduro, will be run at the Nürburging on April 7.—Scott Blazey