It was a challenging season for BMW works team ROWE Racing in the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup. ROWE Racing had two M4 GT3s competing in the Pro Cup class all season, but they never made it to the podium in the five races that made up the season, with Mercedes taking the team and driver championship titles.
The GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup held races at Imola in Italy, Paul Ricard in France, Spa in Belgium, Hockenheim in Germany, and Barcelona in Spain. ROWE entered the #98 M4 GT3 that was driven by Augusto Farfus, Nick Yelloly, and Nicky Catsburg for most of the season, with Philipp Eng replacing Catsburg in the season finale at Barcelona. They also had the #50 car with BMW Junior drivers Max Hesse, Dan Harper, and Neil Verhagen.
The best result for the BMWs were a pair of top five finishes for the #50 car of Harper, Hesse, and Verhagen finishing fourth at Paul Ricard and fifth in the 24-hour race at Spa. The best finishing position for the #98 car was a sixth at Spa, and the average finish for both cars for the full season was 9.6.
The lack of success from the M4 GT3s in the series was due to some balance of performance issues that made the M4 GT3 uncompetitive at certain tracks as well as some bad luck with issues like tire punctures. “The last two circuits this season did not really suit our BMW M4 GT3 and its vehicle characteristics,” said Team Principal Hans-Peter Naundorf after the finale at Barcelona. “But drivers and the team once again gave a very professional, faultless performance and did manage to battle their way to a top ten finish, even though this was not the result that we had hoped for. Many thanks to all the drivers and our partner BMW M Motorsport, and not least to all the members of the team for their fantastic and tireless performances throughout an arduous season.”
The GT World Challenge Europe 2023 season opens on April 22nd-23rd with an endurance race at Monza in Italy. There’s no word yet on whether BMW teams will be contesting the championship again next year. —David Haueter
[Photos by SRO]