Nick Catsburg, Martin Tomczyk, and Alexander Sims in the #81 BMW Team MTEK M8 GTE finished second in the GTE class in the World Endurance Championship 1000 Miles of Sebring, run on the Friday before the IMSA 12 Hours of Sebring. The second Team MTEK 8 GTE, the #82 car driven by Augusto Farfus, António Félix da Costa, and Bruno Spengler finished seventh. The win went to the #91 Porsche 911 RSR driven by Gianmaria Bruni and Richard Lietz.
Both BMWs were front-runners in the GTE class. Farfus led early in the race in #82, but the car fell back later; Félix da Costa said afterward that it lost time by double-stinting tires. Catsburg led much of the final two hours in #81. A deluge near the end of the race sent teams into the pits for rain tires. The Porsche beat the BMW out the pits. The BMW held onto second, but a late full-course yellow came out and stayed out for the balance of the race, so there was no chance to chase down the Porsche.
BMW motorsport director Jens Marquardt said, “What a thriller. This was an amazingly gripping race, with a dramatic finish in the rain over the final 20 minutes. In this finale we narrowly missed out on the victory, but managed to take a satisfying second place after a good fight. Obviously you want to make it onto the top-step of the podium after such a dramatic final phase, and of course it was a pity that the race finished behind the safety car. However, positive emotions dominate today due to the strong performance we delivered.”
Two races remain in the 2018-2019 WEC season, including the Six Hours of Spa in May and the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.—Brian Morgan
[Photo courtesy BMW AG.]