ROWE RACING misses top ten result at Imola season opener due to unlucky circumstances

Nick Yelloly, Nick Catsburg and Augusto Farfus miss P10 by 0.883 seconds / Neil Verhagen wins Esports race and finishes 15th together with Dan Harper and Max Hesse on Sunday
St. Ingbert, 3rd April 2022
– ROWE RACING had a positive first race with the new BMW M4 GT3 at the season‑opener of the GT World Challenge Europe but missed the first top ten result on the traditional Italian track due to unlucky circumstances. Both cars, the #98 BMW M4 GT3 with Brit Nick Yelloly, Dutchman Nick Catsburg and Brazilian Augusto Farfus at the wheel and the #50 car with the BMW Juniors Neil Verhagen from the USA, German Max Hesse and Brit Dan Harper, lost valuable time during pitstops, because the St. Ingbert team wasn’t able to work as usual in the very tight pitlane at Autodromo Dino e Enzo Ferrari.
In the end, Augusto Farfus missed P10 by just 0.883 seconds in the #98 car. The BMW Junior Team crossed the finish line in P15 in the #50 car. Thanks to Neil Verhagen, ROWE RACING had reason to celebrate on Saturday evening. The 21‑year-old celebrated a dominant victory in the Esports GT Pro Series race, which earned him 6,000 euros of prize money and ROWE RACING five points in the team championship. With a total of six points the St. Ingbert team is eighth in the standings. The #98 received one point for the race, because only one car per team can score points and another squad had two cars in the top ten.
In qualifying on Sunday morning, the #98 crew set the ninth fastest average time of all three drivers, but as Augusto Farfus had set his fastest time under yellow flags the crew received a three‑place grid penalty to P12. The BMW Junior Team started the three-hour race that was interrupted by a total of four safety car periods, from P18 on the grid.
After a flawless opening stint, Nick Yelloly handed over the car in lap 34 in eleventh position, but as another team blocked the way to the pits in the tight pitlane, he wasn’t able to stop where he was supposed to for the tyre change. The Brit had to drive a few metres further and the car had to be pushed back which cost a lot of time and saw Nick Catsburg drop to P24 when he returned to the track. Following a pursuit by the Dutchman, Augusto Farfus started the final stage of the race from P12 but as it is very hard to overtake on this track, he could only make up one more position despite having the faster car.
The BMW Junior Team became a victim of the tight pitlane as well. Neil Verhagen had started the race, and the time that Max Hesse wanted to come in for the second pitstop fell in a safety car period so he had to wait one additional lap as it was impossible to service both cars at the same time due to the lack of space. That cost the BMW Junior Team the chance to finish in the top ten at their debut for ROWE RACING and in the GT World Challenge Europe, although Dan Harper made up five positions in the final stint.

Hans-Peter Naundorf, Team Principal ROWE RACING:
“First of all a big thank you to our team that worked tirelessly during the past weeks to get our two cars ready for this event. The premiere of the BMW M4 GT3 was way better than the one of the BMW M6 GT3 six years ago. We only narrowly missed the top ten and can be satisfied with P11 and P15 as well as the performance of drivers and cars. Unfortunately, the tight pitlane cost us better results as both cars lost a lot of time due to unlucky circumstances. Another car blocked the way to our pit spot, which cost us 20 seconds and a possible top ten result with the #98 car. The BMW Juniors had to wait one lap for their second stop as it was impossible for us to service both cars at the same time during the safety car period. The positions we lost could not be made up again on a circuit where overtaking is as difficult as at Imola. Our BMW M4 GT3 could have gone faster than the cars in front of us in certain sections but wasn’t quick enough on the straights to overtake. All in all I am very happy with the first race of the car, and there is a lot of potential left, as not everything was perfect today. I’m also happy about Neil Verhagen’s win in the Esports race. He raised the bar really high.”

Augusto Farfus (#98 ROWE RACING BMW M4 GT3): “I think it was a positive start into my first season together with ROWE RACING. Thank you to the team and to BMW M Motorsport for this opportunity. It was clear before that there would be a learning process with a new car, new teammates and a new racing series. We didn’t execute the race the way we wanted, but that’s also part of the learning process. We could have done and achieved more in this race which is why I’m not satisfied with our result, but the motivation for the next race at Le Castellet is even higher now.”
Neil Verhagen (#50 ROWE RACING BMW M4 GT3):
“All in all I would say it was a good first race for us in the GT World Challenge Europe. We have definitely some things to improve and work on together with the team but it’s a big learning curve for all of us. For us Juniors the racing series is new, for the team the car is new, so it’s normal that we have a lot of potential to get better. I am looking forward to the next races and I’m very happy to have won the first Esports GT Pro Series race. A big thank you goes to Nils Naujoks from BMW SIM Racing Team BS+COMPETITION who helped me a lot during the preparation for this event.”



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