Nick Catsburg, Alexander Sims, and Nick Yelloly in the #99 ROWE Racing M6 GT3 won the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring. Their winning car was the first of three M6 GT3s in the top four finishing positions. The overall win, the twentieth for BMW, came ten years after the team’s last overall win in the race, and 50 years after its first win, when Hans Stuck and Clemens Schickentanz won the first-ever Nürburgring 24 in a 2002ti.
The race began in the rain, with BMW playing catch-up in the early hours, but moving up before heavy rain and standing water on the circuit brought out a red flag seven hours into the race. At that point, Sims was fourth and Martin Tomczyk in the #42 Schnitzer M6 GT3 was sixth. The red flag stayed out for about nine-and-a-half hours.
After the restart, the BMWs moved up as the track dried. They switched to intermediate “drying wet” tires as the leading Audis stayed on full rain tires. Later, when the rain returned, BMW quickly went back to wet weather tires, gaining a necessary edge on the leading Audi that pitted to change tires a lap later. In the end, the #99 M6 GT3 crossed the line first, holding off the #3 Audi driven by Christopher Haase, Mirko Bortolotti, and Markus Winkelhock. Augusto Farfus, who had been part of the winning BMW team in 2010, finished third in the #42 BMW Team Schnitzer car that he shared with Jens Klingmann, Sheldon van der Lind,e and Martin Tomczyk. The second ROWE M6 GT3, the #98 car driven by Lucas Auer, Tom Blomqvist, Philipp Eng, and Marco Wittmann finished fourth.
The BMW Junior Team of Dan Harper, Max Hesse, and Neil Verhagen made their Ring 24 debut with a win in the SP8T class in the #73 BMW M4 GT4. Their nineteenth overall finish made them the best non-GT3 team in the entire field.
The BMW M2 CS Racing media car, with its anniversary livery celebrating BMW’s initial win in the race, fell back after a collision, but it did finish the race.
BMW motorsport director Jens Marquardt said “What a fantastic win! 50 years after the first overall victory for BMW at the Nürburgring 24 Hours, we have come full circle with our twentieth triumph. Congratulations to the whole ROWE Racing team, as well as drivers Nick Catsburg, Alexander Sims, and Nick Yelloly. They stuck to the plan, despite all the difficulties we mainly had in the wet, and then made a magnificent comeback in the final few hours when the track first started to dry out before the rain returned. Thanks to a perfect team effort, everyone responsible made all the right decisions at the right time. The closing stages, when every second counted, were incredibly nerve-racking. We have tried many times with the BMW M6 GT3 to win this iconic race, which is extremely important to BMW Motorsport. Now we have done it, and the joy at this achievement is huge. The crews in cars #42 and #98 also fought their way back into the race superbly, and achieved very strong results with third and fourth place. Congratulations to BMW Team Schnitzer on their podium. I am also very pleased with the class win for the BMW Junior Team and their BMW M4 GT4. The guys passed the test in extremely difficult conditions and can be proud of themselves. They did a great job. So did the many BMW M Customer Racing teams, who competed here despite the extraordinary circumstances resulting from the pandemic. Although this year’s 24-hour race took place in extraordinary conditions due to the current situation, and we missed the many fans around the circuit, this race is an incredibly emotional highlight of what has been a difficult motorsport year so far. Thank you to everyone whose hard work has made this success possible.”—Brian Morgan
[Photos courtesy BMW Motorsport.]