Sixth place for ROWE RACING after a difficult race day in the “Green Hell”

Not-at-fault contact during the opening stage costs the #98 BMW M4 GT3 a better position / Race over on lap one for the #99 car
St. Ingbert, 1st April 2023
– Unpredictable April weather and not‑at‑fault contact in turn two cost the ROWE RACING #98 BMW M4 GT3 any chance of a better finish in the 47th DMV 4‑hour race. Two‑time DTM title‑holder Marco Wittmann, Connor de Phillippi from the USA and the current DTM champion Sheldon van der Linde from South Africa finished the second race of the Nürburgring Endurance Series (NLS) in sixth place, around 40 seconds behind the winning car. An accident after just a few kilometres led to the retirement of the #99 BMW M4 GT3.
Connor de Phillippi, having made a switch within the team to the #98 car for this race, claimed fifth place in the morning qualifying session, providing opening driver Marco Wittmann with a good starting position. However, the German BMW M works driver fell back quite some way after being pushed wide on turn two. Marco Wittmann completed the first lap through the “Green Hell” in twelfth place, subsequently handing over the car to Connor de Phillippi in seventh after seven laps. Sheldon van der Linde took over from lap 15, working his way up from ninth to cross the line in sixth place after some fast laps.
The race was run for the team’s other car on the very first lap. British driver Nick Yelloly had catapulted the #99 BMW M4 GT3 onto the front row of the grid in qualifying, just seven-tenths of a second off pole position, and Austria’s Philipp Eng then enjoyed a good start. He moved into the lead through the first turns in the AMG Arena, leading the field onto the Nordschleife. However, he left the ideal dry line in the Flugplatz section a few kilometres later, spinning off the track and into the crash barriers. Philipp Eng was unhurt but his car had to be taken back to the paddock on a breakdown truck. Nick Yelloly and Brazilian driver Augusto Farfus were unable to complete any racing laps on the Nordschleife.
The dress rehearsal for the ADAC 24h Nürburgring (20th/21st May) will take place in two weeks, in the form of the third NLS race, the 54th Adenauer ADAC Rundstrecken Trophy on 15th April.
Hans-Peter Naundorf, Team Principal ROWE RACING:
“That was a difficult race weekend for us, although we actually got a lot right. Both cars were competitive in qualifying, despite the very challenging conditions. The #98 was not at fault for that unfortunate contact in the race. That cost us a lot of places and it was difficult get them back. The decision to go with a wet-weather setup cost us a bit of speed, as the weather confounded expectations and stayed dry during the race. We then made a few changes during the pit stops and had one of the fastest cars in the closing stages, which gives us reason to be positive. The #99 could probably have done even better than that. It hurts to retire when you’re in the lead and it is a real shame, as it meant that our drivers were unable to chalk up the racing kilometres we had hoped for.”

Marco Wittmann (ROWE RACING #99 BMW M4 GT3): “I experienced an unfortunate situation after the start, which pretty much put me in a sandwich. A Lamborghini hit the front left of the car and the Audi ahead went into a spin, which forced me to brake and head through the damp section of the track. I lost a lot of positions and I was back in 20th or 25th place after four corners. I battled my way back bit by bit and Connor and Sheldon continued to move up through the field. All those tussles at the start, when I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, meant that sixth place was the best we could hope for. The speed was good enough, so it was a decent test for us. It was important to drive here. We had all sorts of different conditions over the weekend, including rain, the track drying out, and then totally dry conditions, so we were able to gather plenty of data.”

Philipp Eng (ROWE RACING #99 BMW M4 GT3): “That was my mistake and I feel extremely sorry for the whole team and my driving team-mates. The conditions were difficult. There was a dry line through the Flugplatz section and unfortunately my left rear tyre went into the wet area. I spun halfway round and nearly caught it, but then I just wasn’t able to stop it from spinning completely into the crash barriers. Of course, it’s really annoying that we had to retire, but if there’s a team and a manufacturer that can come back from that, it’s ROWE RACING and BMW M Motorsport.“

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