55 GT3 cars from eight different manufacturers and a spectacular backdrop provided by the Royal Park in Monza could hardly be a more spectacular start to the 2023 GT World Challenge Europe season for ROWE RACING. This Sunday (23rd April), the team from St. Ingbert will contest the first of five races in the Endurance Cup within the biggest GT series in Europe. ROWE RACING will field two BMW M4 GT3s with the traditional start number 98 and the reactivated number 998, with which the team finished runner-up at the 24 Hours of Spa in 2019.
In the #98 BMW M4 GT3, two‑time DTM champion Marco Wittmann from Germany, who finished runner‑up on the Nürburgring‑Nordschleife last Saturday, will share the cockpit with Austrian Philipp Eng and Britain’s Nick Yelloly, who have both won a 24‑hour classic with ROWE RACING in the past: Eng in 2016 in Spa and Yelloly at the Nürburgring in 2020. The team is looking to consistency in the second BMW M4 GT3; the only change for the former BMW Junior Team, consisting of Brit Dan Harper, German Max Hesse and Neil Verhagen from the USA, is the new number- 998.
The 5.793‑kilometre high‑speed circuit in the famous Royal Park is the home of the Italian Grand Prix in Formula 1 and represents a unique and extremely demanding test for the cars. The switches between long straights and slow chicanes make good traction and steady braking important, as well as top speed. The circuit also features two very fast corners in Curva Grande and the iconic Parabolica.
The opening weekend of the GT World Challenge Europe kicks off on Saturday (22nd April) with free practice from 09:00 to 10:30. This is followed by the 90-minute Pre-Qualifying from 13:40 to 15:10. Max Hesse will contest the one-hour race in the Esports GT Pro Series from 18:00. On Sunday (23rd April), the grid positions for the three‑hour GT World Challenge Europe race will be determined in qualifying from 09:00 to 10:00. The race itself begins at 15:00. Cheering the team on at the weekend will be 35 Italian guests of ROWE MINERALÖLWERK GMBH, who will be looked after in their own ROWE Hospitality area.
Hans-Peter Naundorf, Team Principal ROWE RACING: “For ROWE RACING, the coming season in the GT World Challenge Europe is perhaps the biggest motorsport challenge we have faced in the history of our team. Achieving success is a real challenge in such a huge and top‑quality field as this – with 55 cars from eight manufacturers already set to contest the opening round of the Endurance Cup in Monza. We are well prepared with our BMW M4 GT3 and, with six BMW M works drivers, also have a lot of quality in the cockpit. On the one hand we have three very experienced and top drivers in the #98 BMW M4 GT3, who have already enjoyed a lot of success. On the other hand, in the #998 car, we have three young guns who did well as juniors last year and have developed superbly. Monza is a unique track, which really puts both man and machine to the test. The brakes and engine power are very important. Monza also has a lot of Italian flair and motorsport history, which makes it the perfect stage for the opening round of this season’s GT World Challenge Europe.”
Marco Wittmann (#98 ROWE RACING BMW M4 GT3): “I hope that the opening round of the GT World Challenge Europe at Monza will see us continue where we left off with ROWE RACING in NLS3 on the Nordschleife last Saturday. The team is very motivated, and we drivers are also looking forward to Monza. We have an extremely strong driver line-up – in both cars – and are hoping for a good result to start the season.”
Max Hesse (#9980 ROWE RACING BMW M4 GT3): “I am really looking forward to this season’s GT World Challenge Europe finally getting underway. We had a very good season with ROWE RACING last year, on which we are now looking to build. We have already had a few tests this year, which have seen us take another step forward. Monza is a new circuit for me, and I am looking forward to learning something new. We have a super unit; ROWE RACING is superbly prepared as a team, as are we juniors.”