Having finished runner-up last year, luck once again deserted ROWE Racing. The #99 BMW M6 GT3 – with drivers Connor De Phillippi (USA), Alexander Sims (GBR), Jesse Krohn (FIN) and Martin Tomczyk (GER) – was forced to retire on Saturday evening, following a chain of unfortunate circumstances: As a consequence of a damaged radiator following a minor collision, the engine was damaged to such a degree that the car could not continue.
The #98 car, with Nick Catsburg (NED), John Edwards (USA), Richard Westbrook (GBR) and Tom Blomqvist (GBR) at the wheel, led the race several times early on, but was then handed a time penalty that saw them drop back through the field. They then encountered issues with the electric drive by wire system in the night, which cost them any chances of a good position and led them to retire.
Jens Marquardt (BMW Motorsport Director): “Unfortunately, that was not the 24-hour race we had hoped for. We were right up there with the leading group in terms of pace, and had the fastest car in the field at times. That makes it all the more disappointing that incidents and technical difficulties prevented us from being involved in the battle for the top positions in the overall standings. That is bitter for everyone who worked so hard during the preparations and in the race.”
John Edwards (#98 BMW M6 GT3, ROWE Racing): “A retirement at a 24-hour race is always disappointing, but it is particularly painful when you would have been in with a chance of winning – and we were in with a chance. The BMW M6 GT3 was very fast in the first few hours, in which we led the race at times. I was very confident ahead of the rest of the race. Unfortunately, we then had issues.”
Connor De Phillippi (#99 BMW M6 GT3, ROWE Racing): “I was the third car in a chain at the start of a Code 60 zone. The first car braked very early, which resulted in collisions behind it. I drove into the rear of the Audi in front of me and damaged the radiator on my car. We did not have any water pressure and I was unable to continue. I feel very sorry for the team and my team-mates.”