The racing season on the Nürburgring Nordschleife couldn’t have started any better for BMW M Motorsport and shows that they will be the team to beat in the big dance when the annual Nürburgring 24 Hour race is held on May 20th-21st. BMW Team RMG with works drivers Neil Verhagen, Dan Harper, and Max Hesse won the third round of the NLS (Nürburgring Endurance Series), making it three BMW wins in three races so far this season.
The strength of both the M4 GT3 and the BMW teams campaigning it was evident in that there have been three different BMW teams that have won the first three races. ROWE Racing won the first round with drivers Maxime Martin and Dries Vanthoor, Walkenhorst Motorsport won round two with Jesse Krohn and Jakub Giermaziak, and the RMG trio of Hesse, Harper, and Verhagen won race three. Martin and Wittmann finished in second on Saturday in the #99 ROWE car, making it a BMW one-two finish this time out.
Sheldon van der Linde was the fastest of the BMW drivers in qualifying, putting the #98 ROWE Racing M4 GT3 on the pole, his first at the Nürburgring Nordschleife. The #44 RMG car started from second, but moved into the lead after the #98 car fell back. Once the RMG team got into the lead, they held it until the end and finished seventeen seconds ahead of Wittmann and Martin, who struggled with tire wear during the first stint with the car after a strong start.
Winning a few four-hour races is a lot different than winning a 24-hour race, but the success of BMW in the first three NLS rounds show that the car and drivers certainly have the potential to win if the cars stay reliable and the drivers stay out of trouble. “Three wins in three races–perfect results on the Nordschleife for the BMW M4 GT3 this season!” said BMW M Motorsport Director Andreas Roos. “The fact that the BMW M Team RMG has now followed in the footsteps of ROWE Racing and Walkenhorst Motorsport by celebrating a victory shows just how strong all our teams are. We have completed the preparations for the 24-hour race very well with three wins in a row. But we all know that the Eifel Classic on the Nordschleife is a very tough race where anything can happen. We are now trying to prepare as best we can in the remaining time.”
Coming up next weekend are the qualifying races for the 24-Hour, but several of the works drivers who have competed in the first three races at the ‘Ring will miss that one, as they have a conflict with the GT World Challenge Europe season opener at Monza in Italy. Connor De Phillippi and Erik Johansson will be handling the driving duties in the qualifying races for BMW M Team RMG. —David Haueter
[Photos by BMW]