Podium at the 24h Nürburgring: #72 BMW M4 GT3 classified in third place after a foggy race

52. ADAC RAVENOL 24h Nürburgring 2024 - Foto: Gruppe C Photography
52. ADAC RAVENOL 24h Nürburgring 2024 - Foto: Gruppe C Photography

Dense fog was the dominant theme at the 52nd edition of the 24h Nürburgring (GER). Only just under seven and a half hours could be driven under regular conditions, followed by a break of over 14 hours, before the race ended after five formation laps behind the safety car.

As a result, the #72 BMW M4 GT3 of BMW M Team RMG, which started from pole position and with good chances of victory, was ultimately classified in third place. The result is provisional, and the official final result is still pending.

The car, in the design of BMW M Motorsport Premium Technology Partner Shell, was shared by the three BMW M Motorsport Gen2K drivers Max Hesse (GER), Dan Harper (GBR), and Charles Weerts (BEL). The ROWE Racing #98 BMW M4 GT3 driven by Raffaele Marciello (SUI), Marco Wittmann (GER), Maxime Martin (BEL), and Augusto Farfus (BRA) was classified in seventh position. The ROWE Racing #99 BMW M4 GT3, in which Sheldon van der Linde (RSA), Dries Vanthoor (BEL), Robin Frijns (NED), and Farfus took turns, led the race in the early stages but retired after an unavoidable accident.

52. ADAC RAVENOL 24h Nürburgring 2024 – Foto: Gruppe C Photography

Just before the start, the 24-hour race was already typically turbulent. It began to rain on the starting grid, and tyre choice became a lottery. In the pole car, the #72 BMW M4 GT3, starting driver Harper came into the pits after the formation lap to switch to drying wets, as did Wittmann in the #98 BMW M4 GT3. Meanwhile, Farfus in the #99 had already started on those tyres and sprinted from seventh on the grid to the front of the field within 20 minutes. Behind him, Harper and Wittmann also gained position after position and worked their way back to the front. After about two hours of racing, the first driver changes took place.

Van der Linde took over the #99 car and continued to fight at the front. However, in the fourth hour of the race, the leading BMW M4 GT3 was forced to retire through no fault of its own. While lapping, van der Linde was hit on the left rear by a slower car and collided with another car. The fight for victory ended in the track barrier.

The focus then shifted to the other two BMW M4 GT3s which were still promisingly positioned in the race. As the fog on the Nordschleife thickened, the race was suspended at 23:22, with car #72 in second place and #98 in seventh. After more than 14 hours, at 13:30 on Sunday afternoon, the field went back on track behind the safety car for five formation laps. The order of the cars was based on the standings of the race in the lap in which the class leader had crossed the finish line for the penultimate time before the red flag. The minimum pitstop times that had accrued at that point were also taken into account. For the #72, that meant third place, and for the #98, eighth place. Eventually, the race director decided that the race would not be restarted after the five formation laps. The #72 remained in third place, and the #98, which had made a pit stop, finished in seventh place.

52. ADAC RAVENOL 24h Nürburgring 2024 – Foto: Gruppe C Photography

In the other classes of the 24-hour race, BMW M Motorsport teams achieved nine victories. In the SP10 class, FK Performance Motorsport celebrated a one-two triumph with the BMW M4 GT4. In the SP8T class, the BMW M4 GT4 even took all three podium places. First place went, among others, to the two former BMW M works drivers Timo Glock and Timo Scheider (both GER).

An overview of all class winners:

  • SP10: #188 BMW M4 GT4, FK Performance Motorsport, Maxime Oosten (NED), Nick Wüstenhagen, Nick Hancke, Lorenz Philipp Stegmann (all GER)
  • SP8T: #145 BMW M4 GT4, Cerny Motorsport, Timo Glock, Timo Scheider (both GER), Jeroen Bleekemolen (NED), Peter Cate (GBR)
  • M240i: #650 BMW M240i Racing, Adrenalin Motorsport Team Mainhattan Wheels, Sven Markert, Philipp Stahlschmidt, Nick Deißler (all GER), Ranko Mijatovic (SUI)
  • SP3: #275 BMW 318ti, Marc David Müller, Christopher Groth, Alexander Becker (all GER)
  • SP4: #152 BMW 325CI, Ingo Oepen, Henrik Launhardt, Thorsten Köppert (all GER)
  • SP6: #207 BMW M3 CSL, Hofor Racing, Michael Kroll, Chantal Prinz (both SUI), Alexander Prinz, Thomas Mühlenz (both GER)
  • V4: #711 BMW 325i, Desiree Müller, Tim Lukas Müller, Henning Hausmeier (all GER), Michael Fischer (AUT)
  • VT2-Hecka: #504 BMW 330i, SRS Team Sorg Rennsport, Piet-Jan Ooms (NED), Hans Joachim Theiß, Mathias Baar (both GER), Yutaka Seki (JPN)
  • VT3: #599 BMW 335i, Keeevin Sports and Racing, Serge Van Vooren, Jörg Schönfelder, Meik ter Haar, Guido Wirtz (all GER)
52. ADAC RAVENOL 24h Nürburgring 2024 – Foto: Gruppe C Photography

Comments after the 24h Nürburgring:

Franciscus van Meel (CEO of BMW M GmbH): “It was a very short 24-hour race, with seven and a half hours of racing. We were doing great with all three cars. The drivers and the teams did a great job. We were unlucky when Sheldon, who was leading, had to retire through no fault of his own. After that, the other two cars flew our flag very high. It’s a pity that the race was not restarted. I would have liked to see where we would have ended up. We were highly motivated.”

Andreas Roos (Head of BMW M Motorsport): “This was an extremely unusual 24-hour race on the Nordschleife. The bad weather was very unfortunate for the participants and especially for the 240,000 fans on site. We had chances to win with all three BMW M4 GT3s. We laid the foundation with a fantastic qualifying, in which Max Hesse became the youngest driver ever to secure pole position. Unfortunately, we lost the leading #99 early on through no fault of our own. Then the fog came, and we could no longer use the good performance of our BMW M4 GT3 and the excellent work of the teams. A big thank you to all BMW M works drivers, BMW M Team RMG and ROWE Racing, and our BMW M Motorsport employees who once again faced the challenges of the Green Hell. Congratulations also to all BMW teams that were successful in the individual classes.”

Max Hesse (#72 BMW M4 GT3, BMW M Team RMG): “I have mixed feelings. Of course, we are super happy that we finished and are on the podium with P3. We would have liked to make more use of our pace, but we couldn’t race again today, although it must be said that we were a bit lucky because other cars went to the pits. If it had been a green flag, it might have been difficult for us with the fuel but we are on the podium, although of course, we would have liked to have landed two steps higher.”

Dan Harper (#72 BMW M4 GT3, BMW M Team RMG): “P3 in the 24h Nürburgring, I think it’s an amazing result for us. It has been the first time with Charles as part of the team. It was fantastic to be back with BMW M Team RMG; we have been competitive the whole week and been at the front. BMW M Team RMG and BMW M Motorsport gave us an amazing car It’s a shame with the conditions as the race was stopped for most of the time and we could not really get back racing. But we came away with the podium and it’s a great feeling.”

Charles Weerts (#72 BMW M4 GT3, BMW M Team RMG): “I’m very happy to finish third in my first ever 24h Nürburgring on the Nordschleife. If I would have known this before I would have been of course extremely happy. It was quite a special race with a lot of time under the red flag which is not something we want to have as a racer and as the spectators, but today it was safety first and it was probably the right call. We don’t know how the race would have finished without the red flag. We could have won it, maybe we would not have been on the podium. Now we finished third, a big thank you to BMW M Motorsport, to BMW M Team RMG and to my team-mates who were incredible during the whole weekend.”

Sheldon van der Linde (#99 BMW M4 GT3, ROWE Racing): “My heart hurts after such an accident, and it wasn’t my fault. If I were in that situation again, I would do exactly the same thing. I believe the driver in the other car didn’t see me. I was in her blind spot as I passed. I was almost past, and then she hit me on the left rear. Then I hit another car that was completely uninvolved, and that’s how it happened. A racing incident. But at the end of the day, we were out after leading for so long and that hurts, also for the team, which puts so much work into it. We work almost half a year towards a 24-hour race, and then it goes so wrong.”

52. ADAC RAVENOL 24h Nürburgring 2024 – Foto: Gruppe C Photography
52. ADAC RAVENOL 24h Nürburgring 2024 – Foto: Gruppe C Photography

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