BMW teams were racing on the Nürburgring Nordschleife this weekend in Germany in preparation for the Nürburgring 24-hour race that’s coming up on in June 2024. Both ROWE Racing and BMW M Team RMG competed in the 24h Qualifiers over the weekend, which consisted of two four-hour races. The races were also rounds three and four of the Nürburgring Endurance Series (NLS).

The 24h Qualifiers are an important set of races for any teams that are planning to participate in the Nürburgring 24-Hour, as it gives them opportunities to refine the setup on their cars as well as provide seat time for drivers that are getting used to the track or to new cars that they haven’t raced in before. The races were especially important for BMW drivers Charles Weerts and Raffaele Marciello, as it was the first time they had driven the M4 GT3 on the Nürburgring Nordschleife, which is the nearly thirteen-mile circuit that hosts the 24-hour race.

ROWE Racing and BMW M Team RMG both used the four-hour race on Saturday primarily for setup purposes, with the best finish in that race going to the #72 BMW M Team RMG M4 GT3 of Dan Harper, Max Hesse, and Charles Weerts, which finished tenth. The #99 ROWE Racing M4 GT3 of Augusto Farfus, Sheldon van der Linde, and Dries Vanthoor finished in twelfth. The #98 ROWE Racing M4 GT3 of Raffaele Marciello, Maxime Martin, and Marco Wittmann had a DNF (did not finish) after Martin was unable to avoid hitting another car, causing it to spin on the track.

Things went much better in the second four-hour race on Sunday, with the #98 car of Marciello, Martin, and Wittmann finishing on the podium in second behind the winning Falken Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R. It was the first podium finish for Marciello as a BMW driver. The #99 car of Farfus, van der Linde, and Vanthoor finished in fourth, while the #72 of Harper, Hesse, and Weerts finished in sixth.

Overall, the BMW teams and drivers found the pair of races to be a successful preparation weekend for the 24-hour race. “Our team and our drivers did a very good job this weekend,” said ROWE Racing Team Principal Hans-Peter Naundorf. “Despite the unprovoked retirement in the race on Saturday, we covered many kilometers and gained valuable insights about the new tires. Our drivers were able to get used to the Nordschleife and the tuning again. We have already gotten into a good groove with Raffaele Marciello. Thanks to the good work of the team and some lucky circumstances, we were rewarded with a podium on Sunday-the second within eight days after our victory in the GT World Challenge Europe. It’s a nice reward for the intensive work of the past weeks.”

Raffaele Marciello (left), Marco Wittmann (center), and Maxime Martin celebrate their second place finish.

The Nürburgring 24-hour race runs on the weekend of May 31st – June 1st. If BMW hopes to be successful in the big race, it will come down to strategy and luck more than speed, as the M4 GT3s were not the fastest cars on the track in terms of outright lap times over the two qualifier races.

—David Haueter

[Photos courtesy Gruppe C Photography]




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