Jesse Krohn and Connor De Phillippi, driving the #99 Rowe Racing M6 GT3, won the four-hour VLN enduro at the Nürburgring on Saturday, April 7. It was the first win for De Phillippi as a BMW factory driver, the first for Krohn with Rowe , and the first for Rowe at the Nürburgring as a BMW Motorsport team.
But it was no easy victory. The team worked on the #99 car until 2:00 a.m. on race morning after a shunt on Friday; there was no time to repaint the hood in white, so the team ran it in black. After starting seventh, Car #99 quickly moved into the top five; it took the lead in the final hour, consolidating it after a late pit stop just three laps before the end of the race. Krohn held off a late charge from Dirk Müller in the #14 Black Falcon Mercedes AMG-GT3; Müller and his co-drivers, Maro Engel, Adam Christodoulou, and Manuel Metzger, finished second.
The #35 Walkenhorst M6 GT3 driven by Jonathan Hirschl, Hunter Abbott, and Christian Krognes, finished tenth. The #98 Rowe M6 GT3, driven by John Edwards and Richard Westbrook, had to pit after just two laps with an electrical problem; it returned after 25 minutes in in the pits and treated the balance of the race as a test session.
Heiko Eichenberg and Yannick Mettler, driving an M4 GT4, won the SP10 class for GT4-homologated cars, while David Griessner and Yannick Phübrick won the M235i Racing Cup class for Pixum Adrenalin Motorsport. Their win was a reprise of their victory in the VLN season-opener.
Rowe Racing team principal Hans-Peter Naundorf said, “What an unbelievable weekend! After yesterday’s crash, we weren’t sure if we would be able to rebuild the car, but there is no surrender in this fantastic team. All of our mechanics worked flat-out until 2:00 a.m. to get the car ready. I want to thank every single member of the team for this fantastic job! Time was just too short to get a new white bonnet, but the black one did a great job. If you never give up and keep pushing, you can make it through difficult times. It’s a great feeling to be up there on the podium again after a long time, and a great motivator for the team. During the race, our strategists and drivers performed really well; Connor and Jesse didn’t make a single mistake and consistently drove at a very high level. Our #98 car had the potential to be as quick as the #99 car, but unfortunately we had an electrical problem right at the beginning of the race. After having repaired the car, which took quite a lot of time, we used the rest of the race and the great weather to gain valuable experience with setup and tires ahead of the 24-hour race.”
Rowe and other BMW teams will return to the Nürburgring on April 15 for the six-hour qualifying race for the Nürburgring 24, which will be run on May 10–13.—Brian Morgan