It may not have the international prestige of the 24 Hours of Le Mans or the Rolex 24 at Daytona, but the Nürburgring 24 Hour is more challenging than either and is a race that most sportscar drivers have on their bucket list. It’s an especially important race for German manufacturers Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Porsche, who have had some tremendous battles over the years at the famed circuit.
This year will be the 50th running of the Nürburgring 24 Hour, which coincides neatly with the 50th anniversary of BMW M. BMW still has the most wins of any manufacturer at the race with twenty, but they’ve only won it once overall in the last ten years. The most recent win came back in 2020 when Rowe Racing secured victory with an M6 GT3, after the race was red-flagged for several hours due to heavy rain. Audi has been the most successful marque at the ‘Ring over the last decade, with five wins.
BMW M Motorsport will contest for the overall victory in the 2022 race with seven M4 GT3 entries, with two entries apiece for Rowe Racing and Schubert Motorsport, and three entries for Walkenhorst Motorsport. Nearly all of the BMW works drivers will be in those cars, including American drivers John Edwards and Connor De Phillippi, who will both compete for Rowe Racing. American junior driver Neil Verhagen will also team up with fellow juniors Max Hesse and Dan Harper in an M4 GT3 fielded by Schubert Motorsport.
Head of BMW M Motorsport Andreas Roos is optimistic about their chances of victory on the 15.8-mile circuit, which includes the Grand Prix track as well as the ultra-challenging Nordschleife. “During the development of the BMW M4 GT3, we gained an awful lot of experience with the car on the Nordschleife,” Roos said. “That will now be very valuable to us in the preparations and the race. Our BMW M Motorsport works drivers are real Nordschleife experts, as are the teams, therefore we have all the ingredients in place to go into this iconic race with a healthy portion of optimism.”
If the opening round of the Nürburgring Endurance Series (NLS) is anything to go by, the BMW teams still have some work to do to be competitive for the 24 Hour. The NLS series is run only on the Nürburgring full circuit and used by most teams to prepare for the 24 Hour. The first race of the NLS was held this past weekend, in which the top three finishers were Porsche-Audi-Porsche, with the best BMW M4 GT3 finishing in sixth. The Nurburgring 24 Hour will be held on May 28–29. You can find out more information about the race on the series website.—David Haueter
[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]