The race on the historic Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium was punctuated by a number of caution periods and a red-flag period at night that lasted almost two hours, but ultimately Philipp Eng, Tom Blomqvist, and Christian Krognes in the #34 Walkenhorst Motorsport M6 GT3 won the 24 Hours of Spa, finishing ten seconds ahead of Jens Klingmann, Alexander Sims, and Nick Catsburg in the #99 Rowe Racing M6 GT3.
The #29 Audi R8 LMS driven by Kelvin van der Linde, Sheldon van der Linde, and Jeffrey Schmidt finished third behind the two BMWs, just over 37 seconds back, still on the lead lap. There were two additional M6 GT3s in the 2018 race; Marco Wittmann, Jesse Krohn, and Ricky Collard in the #98 Rowe Racing car were contenders until they had to retire with a technical problem in the overnight hours, and the #36 Walkenhorst car driven by Henry Walkenhorst, Ralf Oeverhaus, Anders Buchardt, and Immanuel Vinke finished fifth in the AM class and 38th overall.
This year’s win was the 24th for BMW in the race, and the third for the marque in four years. Eng, Sims, and Maxime Martin won in a Rowe Racing M6 GT3 in 2016, while Nick Catsburg, Lucas Luhr, and Markus Palttala won in 2015 in a Marc VDS Z4 GT3.
BMW motorsport director Jens Marquardt said, “Congratulations to the Walkenhorst Motorsport team on their victory in the 24-hour race at Spa-Francorchamps. After 2016, this is now the second time that the BMW M6 GT3 proved unbeatable at the world’s largest GT race. We are very proud of this; once again, it underlines the competitiveness of the GT3—the flagship in our customer-racing range. This 24th triumph has cemented our position as the most successful manufacturer by far at the Spa 24-hour race. I was particularly impressed by the way in which Philipp Eng, Tom Blomqvist, and Christian Krognes secured their victory. Just like the whole crew, this trio made no mistakes, stayed out of trouble, and were in the leading pack from the start. The strategy during the numerous yellow-flag and safety car phases was also ideal. This is just the kind of performance required to come out on top at such a tough endurance classic. The fact that Jens Klingmann, Alexander Sims, and Nick Catsburg also reached the podium, finishing second in the Rowe Racing BMW M6 GT3 and completing a one-two result, makes the 70th edition of the 24-hour race at Spa just perfect. Now we can celebrate.”—Brian Morgan