BMW racked up another win at a major endurance race with the M4 GT3, with ROWE Racing taking the victory at the Spa 24 Hours in Belgium with their #98 M4 GT3 driven by works drivers Phillip Eng, Marco Wittmann, and Nick Yelloly. It was the first overall win for BMW at Spa since 2018 and Eng’s third win in this race. It was also BMW’s second victory this season in the Intercontinental GT Challenge, after Team WRT won the Kyalami nine-hour race in South Africa in February.

The race at Spa didn’t start that well for any of the BMWs, after rain impacted the qualifying session and none of the BMWs were able to set a fast time. The M4 GT3s showed their strength once the race started, as the #98 ROWE car was up to fourth at the six-hour mark and sixth at the halfway point. Other BMWs from ROWE and Team WRT were also running in the top five.

By Sunday morning, the #98 was in a strong position to win the race after they pitted early under full course caution. Eng then put in a strong stint behind the wheel to pass the leading Audi, and Yelloly then stretched the lead to ten seconds when he got into the car. Ultimately, the #98 finished over eleven seconds ahead of the second place Mercedes. The victory for the #98 BMW came after starting way down in 26th position in the 70-car field, and it was only the second time since 2001 that the winning car started outside the top twenty.

The #46 BMW M Team WRT M4 GT3 of Maxime Martin, Augusto Farfus, and Valentino Rossi finished in sixth, while the #30 WRT car of Niklas Krütten, Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer, and Calan Williams finished in second in the Gold Cup category. The most unfortunate incident for BMW took place halfway through the race, when the #998 ROWE car driven by Charles Weerts was hit by the #32 WRT car driven by Neil Verhagen. They were running nose to tail when a message came from race control regarding a full course caution. The two drivers didn’t get the message at the same time, so Verhagen was caught by surprise when Weerts slowed down, making impact with Weerts and forcing both of them off the track with damaged sustained to both cars.

The win for the #98 ROWE Racing BMW was a big one, as the Spa 24 Hours is considered the most competitive GT3 race in the world, with an entry filled with factory-supported teams and works drivers. “This was our toughest victory here at Spa so far,” said ROWE Racing Team Principal Hans-Peter Naundorf. “We know how challenging it is to triumph in this race, which makes it even more special. Our competition was incredibly strong, and the final result was incredibly close. I can’t remember a more intense GT race. What impresses me the most is the consistency of our team. I am also pleased to see how valuable this victory is for everyone involved in this project. It was time for the BMW M4 GT3 to win such a significant race in its second year.”

The next race in the Intercontinental GT Challenge championship is the Indy 8 Hour at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on the weekend of October 5th-7th. —David Haueter

[Photos courtesy BMW, Gruppe C Photography]



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