António Félix da Costa and Augusto Farfus in the #82 BMW Team MTEK M8 GTE finished fourth in class in a Six Hours of Spa that saw snow, rain, hail, and even a little sunshine. Their teammates Martin Tomczyk and Nicky Catsburg finished ninth in car #81.
It was sunny at the start, but sleet began to fall on the second lap; then snow came down heavily, bringing out the safety car at about the 25-ninute mark. The race then went green again in about 25 minutes. Félix da Costa led early in the race but fell back as track conditions improved. The weather continued to surprise, with periods of snow, hail, rain, and dry conditions. Both BMWs moved up and down in the order; they made a charge in the final hour, pitting late. They appeared to be moving up, but the race was red flagged in deteriorating conditions with about eleven minutes remaining, before the team’s strategy could pay off.
The class win went to Maxime Martin and Alex Lynn in an Aston Martin Vantage. Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado were second in a Ferrari, and Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen were third in a Porsche. Porsche clinched the GTE manufacturers’ title with one race remaining in the season.
Félix da Costa said, “It was an insane race where we went through every possible weather condition – dry, drizzle, rain, heavy rain, sleet, hail and snow – at times, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing! It was good fun and we had a good car in both the dry and heavy wet. We were in P2 and then the weather changed and we took a gamble, but then the race was red-flagged and the gamble didn’t work. The car and team have come a long way in twelve months of the WEC and we’re ready to return to Le Mans.”
The 24 Hours of Le Mans in June marks the end of the WEC Super Season. BMW has not yet decided whether to return to WEC for the next season; the deadline for entries for the next season, which begins at Silverstone in September, is May 21.—Brian Morgan
[Photo courtesy BMW AG.]