BMW Places 6th in GT2 at LeMans

M2 GT2

The 24 Hours of LeMans was nothing if not eventful for BMW. And as it turns out luck was definitely not on BMW ‘s side this weekend. From having a completely new set-up (to comply with ACO rules for LeMans) to a restrictor plate to limit power, the GT2s faced an uphill battle. However in the end car number 78, with Jörg Müller (DE), Augusto Farfus (BR) and Uwe Alzen (DE) alternating at the wheel, completed 320 laps to finish sixth in the LM GT2 class in front of 240,000 spectators. At one point they were in fact 4th before some mechanical issues brought them in for a lengthy stop.

The BMW M3 GT2 Art Car, designed by American artist Jeff Koons, turned out to be a true fan favourite over the course of the Le Mans week. Dirk Müller (DE) made a good start in car number 79 and was in a promising sixth when he had an accident following a puncture and lost a lot of time in the pits. Andy Priaulx (GB) then also struggled with technical problems. He eventually had to retire at the entrance to the Indianapolis curve shortly after 20:00hrs on Saturday. As a result, Dirk Werner (DE) is still yet to make his racing debut at the “Circuit de la Sarthe”. Victory in the LM GT2 class went to Marc Lieb (DE), Richard Lietz (AT) and Wolf Henzler (DE) in their Porsche 997 GT3 RSR.

Official Release: While BMW triumphed with the open-top BMW V12 LMR prototype at its last outing in Le Mans in 1999, Team Manager Charly Lamm ‘s team lined up in the GT2 category for the first time at this year ‘s race. The opposition, which included Porsche, Ferrari and Chevrolet, arrived at the 78th running of the event with the advantage of a wealth of experience. In contrast, Team BMW Motorsport had to work hard on the two BMW M3 GT2s in ACO specification, to make progress during the short preparation time.

BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen said: “The 17th BMW Art Car caused a real stir among fans and media. Everyone in the team enjoyed working with Jeff Koons and it was fascinating to see how his work of art was received in Le Mans. It goes without saying, we hoped this car would see the chequered flag. We were well aware this weekend would represent a major challenge, due to the short preparation period. The BMW M3 GT2 seen in action here differs in many areas from the car that won at the Nürburgring. During qualifying we were still busy working on the car ‘s basic set-up. In addition, it is very difficult to get involved in the fight for the top positions in the strong GT2 category when you then have to cope with incidents in the race, which result in unscheduled pit stops. Despite this, car number 78 had the podium in its sights until four hours from the end of the race. The return of BMW to Le Mans, eleven years after our 1999 overall victory, attracted massive attention.”

The 17th BMW Art Car was one of the highlights of this year ‘s sports car classic. Jeff Koons had travelled to Le Mans with his family to follow the first start by a BMW Art Car at the “Circuit de la Sarthe” since 1979. “This race has been a very invigorating experience for me,” he said. “It’s amazing to see the commitment of all the people involved. This has me really going, as I understand it is something truly special for all the people to be here. It’s unfortunate the BMW M3 GT2 Art Car had to retire early, but it’s part of racing.”

The BMW M3 GT2 is the fifth BMW Art Car to line up at the Le Mans 24 Hours. Works of art created by American artists Alexander Calder, Frank Stella, Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol had already cast their spell on fans in Le Mans in the 1970s. The BMW M1 designed by Warhol finished sixth overall in 1979.

Reactions.

Jörg Müller (Car Number 78):

“Le Mans is and always will be a unique event. As a motorsport fan, it is worth coming here for the drivers’ parade alone. I don ‘t think I have ever signed as many autographs as I did on Friday. In the short time available to us with our car in this specification, we were not able to prepare perfectly for the peculiarities of this circuit. On top of that, we were unlucky during the race. Despite that, our team deserves great praise. Everyone continued to work consistently and refused to let the setbacks get them down.”

Augusto Farfus (Car Number 78):

“Our car is still very new in this specification. That is why we struggled with numerous teething problems over the course of this demanding race. However, the team never got down and always kept fighting. We were even within reach of a podium finish until the problems with the drive shaft delivered another blow. Despite our difficulties, I really enjoyed my debut in Le Mans. I now have some idea about just how big this event really is.”

Uwe Alzen (Car Number 78):

“I am disappointed we were not rewarded for our hard work. We had the podium in our sights towards the end of the race, but then we suffered a setback with a technical problem. But that’s racing. Just like our victory at the Nürburgring, it was great fun working with this team. The atmosphere is superb. I think the spectators witnessed another amazing race here in Le Mans.”

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
  • JonPD

    Not the best showing for BMW, lets hope we see them back in 2011 with some more time to work on the setup.

    Btw great job to Audi for its 1,2,3 finish and Porsche’s 1st in GT2.

  • Can someone clue me in as to why the BMWs are crying about not having enough time and need to meet ACO regs, BUT the Corvettes went from GT1 last season, just sorted out their chassis this year for GT2 and were much more competitive (minus the wrecks)? It is not like BMW decided last week they were going to run this race. I hate to call them out, as I am huge fan of the racing program but it seems to my personal opinion that they went all out for the ‘Ring and looked at this race as an after thought… This seems most probable to me as when in racing do you ever hear the head of a team say that they have no chance to win?

    I am glad they raced, I wish they had finished better but at the same time a ‘Ring victory means more to true race fans- it is just that now the masses will say BMWs were not competitive in the biggest race out there.

    In the end it is all conjecture but I still was hoping for a better showing, especially with all the issues the cars had.

    -M

  • JonPD

    I agree Michael about the oddness of BMW saying it didn’t have enough time to sort everything out. AS far as I am aware the standards were set long enough ago that they should have had time to sort everything out. While I have huge respect for the win at the ring Lemans is still the 24 hour king to me.

    I have to say the rather pathetic results have to lay with the race team itself and BMW. Its almost like they were more worried about the art car perspective than getting the cars competitive.

  • Bob

    Definatly a “junior effort” for the biggest race of the year. They seemed much more serious at Sebring. The fuel restricter plate may have caught them by suprise and they did not have enough time to sort out the rest of the car to compensate. I’ve been involved in racing long enough to know the rules have more to do with your sucess than the car and team.

  • ///MPWR

    Michael, one thing you have to keep in mind here is that it is not a single factor but a variety of challenges that needed to be tackled for LeMans: * new engine configuration with changed restrictor * new suspension geometry * new aero package * new track for the drivers * track characteristics (top speed) Given that the weather during practice was very changeable it proved impossible to establish a solid base line from which to work up.

    These circumstances prevented BMW from matching the level of competitiveness shown by the competitors.

    But the disappointment expressed here is certainly shared. Now it is on to Miller where BMW RLR have a great opportunity to show improvement, also vs last year’s “interesting” experience.