Christian Krognes, Nick Catsburg, and Mikkel Jensen in the #34 Walkenhorst Motorsport M6 GT3 finished eleventh in the 24-Hour race at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium on July 27–28. The #42 BMW Team Schnitzer M6 GT3 driven by Martin Tomczyk, Augusto Farfus, and John Edwards retired just before the halfway point of the race when it was hit by another car while running third. The #34 car had won the race in 2018, with Krognes, Philipp Eng, and Tom Blomqvist at the controls.
Weather was a major factor at Spa. Qualifying took place during the extreme heat plaguing the continent, and the race, much of which took place in heavy rain and fog, was red flagged for almost six hours on Sunday morning because of the rain.
The hot weather set the turbocharged BMWs back in qualifying, but they moved up during the race. After the red flag period, the #34 car led, but it had been unable to serve a required five-minute technical stop before the race was halted. After the restart, the car came in to serve the five-minute stop; it fell back, and was not able to return to the front of the pack afterward. The overall win went to Kevin Estre, Michael Christensen, and Richard Lietz in the #20 GPX Racing 911 GT3 R.
The #34 and #42 cars are competing in SRO’s five-race Intercontinental GT Challenge series. The Spa race was the third round, following the Bathurst 12 Hours in Australia in February and the California 8 Hours at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in March. The remaining rounds are the Suzuka 10 Hours in Japan during August and the Kyalami 9 Hours in South Africa in November.
Three other M6 GT3s ran in the Am class at Spa. The Boutsen-Ginion car finished eighth in class, while the second BMW M6 GT3 of Walkenhorst Motorsport and the 3Y Technology team car both retired.
Team principal Henry Walkenhorst said, “Of course, the fact that we won here last year means that we aren’t really satisfied with eleventh place. You could see that the cars with turbo engines were struggling in the heat throughout the week and could not reach the performance levels we had hoped for, especially in qualifying. Our race speed was then pretty good and we were able to move up through the field until the race was stopped. Unfortunately, the red flag phase really hurt us due to the technical pit stop that we still had to make. Some tire problems and a collision during the final phase also cost us some time. We could have reached fifth or sixth despite the race interruption. Congratulations to our lads, who didn’t make any mistakes.”—Brian Morgan
[Photo courtesy BMW Motorsport.]