ROWE RACING is well equipped for the big highlight of the season on the Nordschleife, the ADAC 24h Nürburgring on 20th/21st May. At the dress rehearsal for the “Eifel Marathon”, the team from St. Ingbert claimed pole position and finished second and fourth in the 54th Adenauer ADAC Rundstrecken‑Trophy, the third race in the Nürburgring Endurance Series (NLS).
DTM champion Sheldon van der Linde from South Africa recorded a lap time of 7:51.852 minutes to catapult the #98 BMW M4 GT3 to first place on the grid, celebrating his first pole position on the Nordschleife. He was initially able to defend that position at the start, leading the field onto the Nordschleife. However, he was forced to surrender the lead on lap two, handing the car over after six laps to Belgian driver Dries Vanthoor in fourth place. After switching drivers on two more times, the duo then finished the race in the same position after 28 laps.
In the team’s #99 car, two‑time German DTM title‑winner Marco Wittmann made an even better start, moving up from seventh to third place through the first two corners. He and Maxime Martin, his BMW M works driver team‑mate from Belgium, then lost some ground but battled their way to third place after the halfway point of the race. Just after the final pit stop, Maxime Martin then moved up into second place and defended that position to the finish line.
Rather than competing against one another, Marco Wittmann, Maxime Martin, Sheldon van der Linde and Dries Vanthoor will be racing together in the #98 BMW M4 GT3 at the ADAC 24h Nürburgring. The #99 BMW M4 GT3 will be driven by BMW M works drivers Philipp Eng from Austria, Augusto Farfus from Brazil, Connor de Phillippi from the USA and Nick Yelloly from Great Britain.
Hans-Peter Naundorf, Team Principal ROWE RACING: “All in all, it was a successful weekend for us with pole position, finishing second and fourth, as well as the fact that both cars completed the full distance without so much as a scratch. We should actually be satisfied with that in terms of final preparations for the ADAC 24h Nürburgring. However, when you see how many GT3 cars overtook us out there today, it felt more like we weren’t even in the top ten. A lot of people will have to watch the race again and see how it progressed to get a true feel for how the individual cars performed.”
Marco Wittmann (ROWE RACING #99 BMW M4 GT3): “The highlight for me was clearly taking two corners to move up from seventh to third place from the start. My reaction was really good and I was able to get into a good position through the first corners. It’s always nice to be the starting driver and it’s even better to move up by a few places. In the first stint, we did struggle a bit with the balance of the car and with tyre wear. We then made a few minor adjustments for the second and third stints, which made the car significantly more consistent. It was also good preparation for the ADAC 24h Nürburgring and allowed us to see how the car behaves. That’s what we’re here for, and it’s even better when we manage to reach the podium.”
Sheldon van der Linde (ROWE RACING #98 BMW M4 GT3): “I’m very happy with my first pole on the Nordschleife. It took me quite long obviously, four years. I’m very happy because it shows that the team has done a lot of work in the three preparation races to take the car to a very good level. So, I’m very happy where we are before the 24‑hour race. Obviously the main target is to be fully prepared for the ADAC 24h Nürburgring which I think we are. Today in the race we had a good showing running constantly in the top five. I’m very much look forward for the most important one which is at the end of next month with my team mates Dries, Maxime and Marco where we finally drive together and not against each other.”